Mallow RFC played host to Clonakilty last Sunday in what was a titanic clash between the top two sides in the league. This game really lived up to its billing as the two in-form sides in the league battled it out for bragging rights. Both teams arrived looking to preserve their 100% record and the mouth-watering encounter that played out highlighted why both teams are right up at the business end of the table. It was Mallow who got off the mark early in the game as they looked to kick for territory early on. The entire pack carried with intensity and put Mallow in a strong position. When the ball found its way out wide, Dave Breen, as he has done so often all season, identified a gap and stepped around is opposite number to score under the sticks for Mallow's opening 7-pointer. It was exactly what the home side needed so early in the game, knowing that Clon would inevitably put pressure on. Mallow's second try followed shortly after. The front row of Chris O' Regan, Timmy Fitzgerald and Tysone Stephens really brought the game to Clon and had a huge part in this try. Pick-and-go's around the fringes, the hard yards, really sucked the Clon defence in and once the ball went wide, the backs finished off the forwards hard work. Mike O' Flynn called a training ground move which came off with devastating effect. Breen passed it out the back to Flynn, who's defender bit in on the decoy runner. He provided an excellent assist out wide to Conor O' Donovan who sprinted past the winger and down the line to score in the corner. Breen added the crucial touchline conversion to put Mallow into a 14-0 lead before the fifteen minute mark. The remainder of the half saw Mallow put in a defensive shift like no other. Hugh Keena, Owen Glynn and Brian Henry exercised their supreme defensive abilities time and time again. Desperate to protect their lead, Mallow found themselves camped on their own line for fifteen minutes following their try. Their defensive effort around the fringes was phenomenal and it was Chris O' Regan who eventually won a monumental turnover as Clon were beginning to sniff the Mallow try-line. This turnover was huge for the home side as they exited to relieve an energy sapping period of intense pressure. Mallow went into the interval with their lead still in tact.
When play restarted, Mallow knew Clon would throw the kitchen sink at them. Playing up the hill and with a difficult breeze, the home side found it difficult to get out of their own half. Mallow absorbed further pressure right from the off but held out until the hour mark. A line-out maul saw the visitors march right up to the Mallow line. Following numerous pick-and-go's, they eventually crossed the whitewash for a converted try of their own to leave the score line a dangerous 14-7. Roared on by the huge home support, Mallow eventually found their feet in the second half but attacking opportunities seemed to be rare. No. 8 Mike Lenihan, picked off the back of the scrum with good effect and Mallow's crash-ball-merchant, Mike Sweeney both repeatedly got the home side on the front foot when Mallow were deep in their own half. They were consistently tested defensively and time after time, held strong, protecting their try-line with ruthless efficiency. Needless handling errors and excessive costly penalty concessions as well as a Mike O' Flynn yellow card led to relentless pressure inside their own 22m line, however Mallow held firm, owing to the sheer determination of the pack. Peter Cosgrove kicked the ball off the pitch as Mallow closed out the game to win 14-7. Despite the lack of tries compared to other fixtures this season, this game was as good a performance as any, and it had to be.
Sean Hickey of Hickey's Bar in Dromahane who was amongst the massive crowd in attendance was Sunday's match-day sponser and the club would like to thank him sincerely for his continued support of Mallow RFC. Up next is an away clash against Youghal next Saturday at 3pm.
Updated 08:44 - 4 Dec 2018 by Michael Sweeney