JJ HURLEY REPORTS
BANDON hurlers exited the premier intermediate hurling grade following a lacklustre performance to Carrigaline in the relegation decider at Ballinspittle on Sunday.
This is Bandon’s second relegation in three seasons, have slipped out of the senior A grade in 2021, and next season they will campaign at intermediate A level.
Failing to register their first score until 20 minutes into the opening half, Bandon were obviously in for a difficult day at the office.
Their woes had been registered even before the first ball was thrown in, losing their talisman Robert Long to illness. For manager Donal Kelleher, Long’s absence was a tremendous blow.
'Rob was a huge loss. He has been a fantastic leader on and off the pitch all year, and when I got the call this morning, I was devastated for him because he is a Bandon man, and he's a hurling man. We could have done with his leadership today,’ Kelleher remarked.
Admitting the opening 20 minutes had probably cost his side the tie, Kelleher said, 'We let ourselves down in the early stages. We allowed Carrigaline to drive at us, overpower and dominate us, and the early goal was telling, too.'
However, despite the defeat, Kelleher praised his charges for their efforts, describing the fantastic character in this bunch of players and their efforts to come back into the game.
From the opening minute, when Finn O'Connell goaled, the cards were stacked against the Carbery men, who struggled to come to terms with the game's pace as Carrigaline had raced into a lead of 1-7 to 0-0. Five of those points came from Brian Kelleher, who punished Bandon with four frees and a 65, as his teammates David Griffin and Rhys McCarthy also found the target.
While Bandon tried to find their target, their shooting was wayward as Carrigaline led by 1-10 to 0-0, following three scores from McCarthy, Kelleher and Dan Green.
Eventually, Bandon opened their account on 20 minutes, as Charlie Long sent over a free, but the Carrigadhoun outfit's response showed they were in no mood to relinquish their stranglehold on the game as McCarthy and Kelleher (2) stretched their lead.
Finally, Bandon got a break as a speculative free from Charlie Long deceived the Carrigaline goalkeeper and ended up in the net, followed by two more pointed frees from Long. It was beginning to look more favourable for Bandon approaching half time.
Carrigaline sent over the first score of the second half from the stick of McCarthy, but Bandon, led by Aidan O'Mahony on the small square, was beginning to cause problems. Claiming the following three points from O'Mahony, Long and an outrageous point from James McSweeney from inside his 45, Bandon were now trailing 1-6 to 1-14.
Carrigaline replied with Kelleher and Eanna Desmond points, as Bandon managed a single reply.
With the game's intensity rising, the referee Pat Lyons gave marching orders to Bandon's Darren Crowley and Carrigaline's Kieran Kavanagh following an altercation.
Bandon grasped the advantage from here, narrowing the score to leave seven points between them as Eolan McSweeney and Long found their range. The rally was short-lived for Bandon, and four unanswered Carrigaline points followed another fine save from Sweeney. As Bandon ran out of road, they managed a late goal from Eolan Sweeney, but it was all in vain.
Carrigaline: Brian Kelleher 0-11 (6f); Rhys McCarthy 0-4; Finn O'Connell 1-0; David Griffin 0-2; David Drake, Dan Green, Kevin O'Reilly, Eanna Desmond 0-1 each.
Bandon: Charlie Long 1-5 (4f, 1 65); Eolan McSweeney 1-2; Aidan O’Mahony, James McSweeney (f) 0-1 each.
Carrigaline: R Foster; D King, S Williamson, C Vaughan; Kieran Kavanagh, D Griffin, Kev Kavanagh; J McCarthy, E Desmond; R McCarthy, F O'Connell, D Greene; R O'Shea, K O'Reilly, B Kelleher.
Subs: D Drake for O'Connell (inj, 5), N Coleman for Greene (50), R Kelleher for McCarthy (52), N O'Keeffe for Desmond (63), P Mellet for McCarthy (63).
Bandon: J McSweeney; H Lillis, P Murphy, E Twomey; S Collins, T Twohig, C McCarthy; E McSweeney, C Calnan; D Collin, D Crowley, J Mulcahy; C Long, A O'Mahony, M Cahalane.
Subs: J Walsh for C McCarthy, R Fogarty for D Collins (both 28), N McCarthy for C Long (57).
Referee: P Lyons.