00:00 Saturday 11 February 2012  Written by John Murphy

Double delight for Bandon as they celebrate a superb year

FLAMBOYANT celebrations are in order, as Bandon GAA Club regales and recalls one of the most successful playing seasons in the Lily Whites proud and chequered history!

For the most part Gaelic teams and clubs have to endure the trials and tribulations of being so near, yet so far away when it comes to annexing titles and championships. However, comes the rare occasion when everything seems to fall into perfect tandem. Such a year was 2011 for Bandon when success followed success in a seemingly endless conveyor belt of glorious victories, both in hurling and football, making it even more remarkable. A quick glance at their CV reveals a magnificent list of triumphs and surely must be the envy of many clubs of greater stature within the county.

Pride of place goes to the intermediate hurlers who captured the Cork County Intermediate Hurling Championship by decisively defeating Fr O'Neill's in the decider to rightly claim their place amidst the upper echelons of hurling society. They also qualified for the final of Division 2 of the hurling league ensuring they were promoted to Division 1 in 2012.

Not to be outdone, their football counterparts competing at junior level won the South West Junior A Football Championship by defeating Clann na nGael in the final and completed a unique double by beating Kilmacabea in the league final. In fact they came close also at county level. They were beaten by Kanturk in the championship semi-final and by Kilmurry in the penultimate stage of the football league.

Throw in the fact that the U21 footballers and junior B footballers also made it to the finals of their respective championships and one gets a true picture of what best can be described as a stunning array of successful return from their playing activities in both codes at various levels.

It was only proper and fitting that all these fantastic achievements did not go unnoticed as the intermediate hurlers and junior footballers were joint winners of the Buckley Financial Team of the Year Award for 2011 which was announced recently at a banquet held at the Maritime Hotel, Bantry. Not to be outdone the junior A footballers won the Buckley Financial Team of the Month in September, while the intermediate hurlers won the counterpart award in hurling in October to conclude a quantum of off-field awards as a bonus.

While the players naturally take most of the plaudits, and rightly so, it would be remiss to ignore the fact that selectorial wisdom, advice and astute management from the sideline all play key roles in garnering ultimate success and in this aspect Bandon was well served in both hurling and football.

The intermediate hurlers were under the experienced eye of former Cork dual star Teddy McCarthy who was the team coach and ably assisting him were the other selectors Pádraig Crowley, Paddy Cahalane and Niall Geary. Statistics were in the able hands of Mick Kelly, Paul Gray was the physiotherapist and medicinal matters were looked after by Dr Anthony Calnan.

Coach to the footballers was Colm Aherne, while the selectors were John Wilmot, Colman O'Mahony and Jimmy Gabriel. Aisling Holland and Paul Gray are the team physiotherapists while the sponsor of the club is ODM Financial, Bandon.

Onwards and upwards

Little wonder then that the mood was proactive with the theme being one of onwards and upwards to even greater glory in 2012 as a capacity attendance of over 230 patrons consisting of players, mentors, club officials , supporters and special guests sat down to sample the appetising cuisine at a gaily and aptly decorated Munster Arms Hotel, Bandon, last Friday night.

The important task of MC for the evening was left in the capable hands of Colman O'Mahony. In his introductory remarks he stated it was indeed a proud and historic night for the Bandon GAA Club and one he felt on occasions in the past may never have arrived. Few could quibble with his statement and sentiments given the vast glittering array of silverware adorning the top table.

Pride of place had to go to the Paddy Walsh Cup for winning the Cork County Intermediate Hurling Championship. Proudly in place also was the Mick McCarthy Perpetual Memorial Cup won by Bandon for the third time in five years as South West Junior A Football Championship winners in 2011. The Mick Godley Cup for the football league title and a very recent and welcome addition was the cup for being nominated joint winners of the Buckley Financial Team of the Year completed a truly remarkable haul of trophies.

The guest list at the top table comprised Fr Denis O'Leary PP who had some welcoming and prayerful words for all and sundry prior to the meal and was fulsome in his praise for all concerned and involved from St Brogan's underage club right up to adult level, and the pastor expressed the wish that the good work which was so vital for the town and youth would continue in 2012.

There too was hard working honorary secretary Don Desmond and efficient club chairman Denis Lucey accompanied by his wife Bernie. Representing the West Cork Board was chairman Declan Walsh accompanied by his wife Clodagh, with newly elected Cork County Board,chairman, Bob Ryan, and his wife Teresa, together with John Murphy, Southern Star completing the list.

A warm welcome

Prior to the first guest stepping up to the podium Colman O'Mahony extended a warm welcome to the wife and relatives of the late Judge Con Murphy who were present at the function. Con of course had formed an integral part of the Bandon Club before his untimely death left a huge void to be filled.

The first speaker was Denis Lucey, who in a comprehensive and eloquent address covered a wide ranging spectrum of activities involving the club's successful progress during 2011 culminating in those marvellous victories in both hurling and football. Denis remarked that 37 years was a long wait for that elusive breakthrough and county intermediate hurling title but it had been worth it all. He paid tribute to the role played by the two guests, Bob Ryan and Declan Walsh, who had both been actively involved when the club had partaken a couple of important developments in the recent past.

The joy of winning had banished the heartbreak of losing county finals narrowly in the past and it was so important in these recessionary times to boost the morale and ego of the town and parish. It had all resulted in a truly wonderful sense of achievement and while the intermediate hurlers had given them a few scary moments on the way to ultimate glory, they certainly had silenced their critics with a truly magnificent display in the decider.

Finally, he congratulated both the hurling and football selectors and the respective coaches together with team management on a job well done and added that it was great to see also the Bandon players who had worn the Cork jersey with pride during 2011.

Cork County Board chairman, Bob Ryan, got a prolonged and generous round of applause as he commenced his often witty and most interesting speech to the assembled attendance. Bob said that he was deeply honoured to be at the function in his new role as chairman of Cork County Board, a position he was privileged to hold.

The night was really about what is the most important thing in any club, the players. In this respect down the years the commitment from the Bandon players to their club and their parish was simply outstanding. 2011 was truly a splendid year for Bandon, said Bob. Winning the South West Junior A Football championship and capturing what is arguably one of the most difficult championships to win, the Cork County Intermediate Hurling Championship were truly historic achievements.

No greater honour

There is no greater honour than for players to don the club jersey and go on and win a county championship and in this respect ye did just that bringing honour and glory to the club and parish and that is exactly what happened, continued Bob.

Regarding the hurling, Bob said that they were lucky to have the colossus from Sarsfield, Teddy McCarthy, driving the bus. He jocosely remarked to great laughter that surely a statue will be erected to him shortly in Bandon and if he continues maybe in Laois in the future. On a serious note he was lavish in his praise of Teddy who is a passionate hurling man and indeed his fellow selectors, Pádraig Crowley, Paddy Cahalane and Niall Geary.

Finally, he had words of praise for all concerned who had made this great night and occasion a reality and did not forget the late, great Judge Con Murphy who, he said, was a huge loss to his family, club and surrounding hinterland.

The last speaker was South West Board chairman, Declan Walsh. In congratulating Bandon, Declan remarked it was a great occasion for the team and town in the fact that the intermediate hurlers had emerged in triumph. In their wisdom, some selectorial members at other levels seem to have the impression that there is no hurling played west of the Viaduct something which is complete folly of course.

The footballers too had a great campaign and from a GAA perspective towns have a key role in promoting the games, given the strength of counter attractions that are available. Finally, he thanked the club members who were involved with Carbery teams and expressed the desire that Carbery hurlers would emerge again as a potent force in the near future.

A club is only as good as the officers and mentors who guide it and in that aspect Bandon certainly is not found wanting. The following are the current officers: President, Liam Deasy; chairman, Denis Lucey; vice-chairman, Pat McCarthy; hon secretary, Don Desmond; assistant secretary and cultural officer, Gerald Collins; registrar, David Crowley; development officer, Noel McNamara; pavilion secretary, Ms Kathleen Canty; communications officer, Stephen Murphy; liaison and children's officer, Frank Long; St. Brogan's delegate to central committee, Colman O'Mahony; Cork County board delegates, Gerald Collins and Mick Kelly; SW Board delegates, Don Desmond, Mick Kelly, Frank Long, Denis Lucey. The central committee consists of the above plus Neilie Hallahan, Essie O'Leary, Joe McCarthy and the players representatives.

Making sure the function went like clockwork were the organising committee consisting of Colman O'Mahony, Donough Lucey, James O'Donovan, Joe McCarthy, Ian McCarthy, David Lehane, Noel McNamara, Niall Morrissey and Eoghan O'Donovan.

The formalities dispensed with and various presentations complete came the highlight of the evening with Bob Ryan doing the honours with the intermediate hurlers and Declan Walsh likewise with the footballers.

A total of 28 players received county intermediate hurling medals as follows: Eoghan O'Donovan, captain, James McSweeney, Philip Crowley, Joe Burke, James O'Donovan, Donough Lucey, Kieran Hurley, Cha Dullea, Darren Crowley, Ronan Crowley, Mark Sugrue, Jason Hickey, Roy Payne, Niall O'Rourke, Jason McCarthy, Stephen Murphy, James Walsh, Alan Johnson, Darren O'Donoghue, Kevin Lucey, Joe Harrington, Patrick O'Neill, Eoghan Ryan, David Lehane, Vincent Goggin, Darren Ryan, Tomás O'Donoghue, Mike Minihane.

Some 35 footballers got South West and league medals: Alan Johnson, captain; Pat Prendergast, Joe Harrington, Kevin Lucey, Peter Murphy, Donough Lucey, Charles Dullea, Jason Hickey, Tomás O'Donoghue, Eoghan O'Donovan, David Aherne, Darren Crowley, Mark Sugrue, Rob Moloney, Cian O'Mahony, Jamie Crowley, Conor Sugrue, James Milner, Philip Crowley, James Walsh, Jason McCarthy, Darren Murray, Ronan Crowley, Adam Tobin, Fionn O'Leary, Patrick O'Neill, Kevin Walsh, John O'Connell, Colin Swanton, Matthew McNamara, Ronan McCarthy, Brian Crowley, Ray Brennan, Mark Muir, Roy Payne.

All too soon it was time to head for the hills and with the melodic tones of The Dreamers from Tipperary ringing in our ears we took our leave with the knowledge that a great night and occasion in the illustrious history of Bandon GAA was about to conclude and that the future was certainly looking rosy.

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