Mallow travelled to Ballincollig for their 6th Munster Junior 2 league game of the season last Sunday. It was a perfect day for rugby with little or no wind and dry conditions. To add to that, Ballincollig's pitch was more akin to a carpet than most of the pitches in this league. The home side started much the stronger opening the game's scoring with an unconverted try on 10 minutes. This came as a result of sloppy defending on Mallow's part, particularly around the fringes and 10m either side of breakdowns. Mallow were quick to get a foothold in the game however, with a pushover scrum shortly afterwards. No. 8 Mike Lenihan dived on the ball as the Mallow scrum decimated their opponents from 5m out. Dave Breen added the extras to put Mallow in the lead. The away side were next to dot down as they slowly started to exert their dominance. Ronan McCarthy fired out a pass to Owen Glynn who identified a mismatch down the blindside. He popped it to Sean Glynn who’s quick hands found Conor O Donovan on the wing. He beat his opposite number with ease and raced away to score. As Mallow began to find themselves in the ascendency, Breen was next to add to the score line with a moment of brilliance. Following a period of intense pressure inside the Collig 22m area, Breen sent a deft chip over the top only to collect his own kick and dot down under the posts for Mallow’s 3rd try of the game. Half time arrived with Mallow holding a 21-5 lead.
During the second half, the north Cork side sought to correct the litany of mistakes that hampered their first half performance. They managed to secure the bonus point within 10 minutes of the restart. Ballincollig again found themselves under considerable pressure come scrum time and Mallow exploited this weakness with clinical effect. Lenihan picked off the back of the scrum and made excellent yardage. Hugh Keena, Timmy Fitzgerald, Chris O’ Regan and Tysone Stephens punctured holes in the Ballincollig defence around the fringes with quick and abrasive pick & go’s getting Mallow over the gain line. Eventually, thanks to a slick set play backs move, the ball found its way out to O’ Donovan who crossed the whitewash for his second and Mallow’s fourth try. Ballincollig however, never gave up and made Mallow fret during the last 20 minutes. They dragged themselves back into the tie with 2 second half tries of their own, again coming from uncharacteristically lapse pillar defence. Despite Mike Sweeney picking up a broken nose, Mallow did respond to put the game beyond doubt during the latter stages of the game. First, the agile Mike O' Flynn cut through the opposition cover and dotted down under the sticks following outstanding continuity of phase-play. Then, Breen got in on the act again, to register a second try and his fifth of the campaign to date. He offloaded to Owen Glynn down the blindside who's quick hands sent O' Donovan down the line. He returned the pass back inside to Glynn who was tackled and offloaded from the ground to release Breen for his try.
It was as physically demanding a contest as Mallow have endured so far this year, with many sore bodies at the full time whistle but with the bonus point in the bag, they will be glad to now focus on the looming fixture that lies ahead this Sunday. Second placed Clonakilty make the trip to St Joseph's Road for what will be a titanic clash of the top 2 sides in the league. 2.30pm this Sunday, more than ever, Mallow RFC need the support of everyone who can make it, as a victory would really help their push for promotion and put considerable daylight between themselves and the chasing pack.
Updated 15:34 - 27 Nov 2018 by Michael Sweeney