A SUPERB second-half saw Blackrock retain their Rebel Óg Premier 1 MHC title at Páirc Uí Rinn last night.
But few, if any, watching would have predicted such a scoreline at half-time as they went into the break two points down, having played against the wind. For periods of the first half they were hanging on as Mallow played some great hurling with Aaron Sheehan, Pa Herlihy and Sean Hayes causing problems for the Rockies’ defence.
Defensively Killian O’Connor and Daniel Sheehan were keeping Blackrock at bay.
Were it not for the accuracy of David King and Stephen Murphy from frees the Rockies could have been further behind at the break.
But what a turnaround after the break, they were simply awesome in the second half and there wouldn’t have been a minor side in Cork who would have got next or near them.
Defensively they tightened up, with Alan O’Callaghan and Andrew Murphy leading by example at the back.
In midfield the impressive Stephen Murphy took over and up front Joe Logue started the goal rout.
The introduction of sub Alan Nolan half-way through the second-half was another crucial part of their win.
Such was his performance when introduced he ended up top scorer for his side, with two goals and two points.
Logue ended up winning the Man of the Match award, but it could just as easily have gone to Stephen Murphy with Mallow’s Pa Herlihy also in the running.
Mallow are well known for starting at pace and were quickly in front when Hayes scored. David King equalised from a free for Blackrock, but points from Harkin, Hayes and Herlihy made it 0-4 to 0-1 after seven minutes.
Murphy and Ryan Dineen put only one between them, with Sheehan hitting two and Harkin also scoring as Mallow stretched their lead again.
Another from Sheehan, along with one from Hayes made it 0-10 to 0-5 after 20 minutes. Three from Murphy kept the Rockies in the game with Sheehan and Herlihy responding for Mallow.
King and Dineen got the last scores of the half as Mallow led 0-12 to 0-10 at the break.
The first 15 minutes of the second-half unbelievably only saw two points scored, with O’Callaghan and O’Keeffe pointing to level it at 0-12 apiece.
Sheehan put Mallow back in front, but with 47 minutes gone the game turned in the Rockies favour.
A long ball in from Murphy was caught superbly by Logue and he turned to blast to the back of the net to put his side in front for the first time.
Three minutes later Murphy and Logue combined to set up Nolan for their second goal and from the re-start he added a point to make it 2-13 to 0-13 and effectively end the game as a contest.
With five minutes to go Logue got his second goal, with Sheehan responding for Mallow, only their second score of the half. Dineen, Nolan and Crowe, with two, all pointed for Blackrock to make it 3-17 to 0-14.
Blackrock weren’t finished yet with Murphy scoring from a 65 and Nolan getting his second and their fourth goal. Herlihy pointed for Mallow to make it 0-15 to 4-18, but it was no more than a consolation score as the Rockies showed why they are champions to make it two-in-a-row at this grade.
At U16 level they made it four in-a-row a couple of weeks ago, so even before a ball is hit they will be the team to beat again next year and with some of this side still around and add in those coming out of the U16 grade, they are going to take some stopping.
They game did end on a sour note with a fracas in the final minute of injury time involving players and subs from both sides, but with the intervention of selectors from both sides it was over as soon as it started and the celebrations could begin for the Rockies.
Scorers for Blackrock: A Nolan 2-2, J Logue 2-0, S Murphy 0-5 (3f, 0-1 65), R Dineen, C Crowe 0-3 each, D King (2f), I O’Keeffe 0-2 each, A O’Callaghan 0-1.
Mallow: A Sheehan 0-6 (5f), P Herlihy 0-4, S Hayes 0-3 (1f), R Harkin 0-2.
BLACKROCK: G Connolly; P Redmond, A Murphy, E McCarthy; J Ryan, A O’Callaghan, N Cashman; S Murphy, D Meaney; R Dineen, I O’Keeffe, C Cormack; C Crowe, J Logue, D King. Subs: A Nolan for D King, F De Faoite for I O’Keeffe.
MALLOW: P Buckley; A Luttrell, D Sheehan, J O’Hanlon; P Healy, K O’Connor, R Mills; J Murphy, P Buckley; A Sheehan, R Harkin, P Herlihy; D Sheehan, S Hayes, S Walmsley. Subs: M O’Rourke for D Sheehan, J Cosgrave for R Mills.
Ref: Ger O’Connell, Lisgoold.