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Blues drawing on last season’s experience as Bantry hit business end of Premier IFC campaign

September 22nd, 2023 12:00 PM

By Ger McCarthy

Blues drawing on last season’s experience as Bantry hit business end of Premier IFC campaign Image
Bantry's Arthur Coakley - in action against Iveleary's Daniel O'Leary - is a key players in the Blues' PIFC campaign.

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BANTRY Blues can draw on their run to the 2022 county final as they countdown to Sunday’s Bon Secours Premier IFC quarter-final against Nemo Rangers.

The Blues’ path to a second consecutive county final appearance is clear. Overcome Nemo Rangers this weekend, Killshannig await in the last four and then it’s one from Cill na Martra, Uibh Laoire or Castletownbere in the county decider.

It’s far easier said than done.

That’s why Bantry Blues are not looking beyond Sunday’s quarter-final clash with Nemo Rangers in Enniskeane (2pm throw-in).

The West Cork side head into that knockout clash on the back of three incredibly hard tests against Uibh Laoire, Naomh Abán (both wins) and Macroom (draw) in the group stage of the competition that saw them top Group B.

‘We have had three big tests, yes, and are just delighted to be through to the knockout rounds,’ Bantry mentor Arthur Coakley told The Southern Star.

‘In terms of last year’s county final defeat (to Kanturk), we have some new, younger players on the panel so we have parked it. In another way, the memory is still very much there in that we want to progress, want to get back there again and get over the line if we can.’

Will Ruairí Deane be fit to line out for Bantry?

As Coakley attests, losing 3-11 to 1-10 Kanturk in the 2022 Premier IFC county final, albeit a disappointing loss, has helped spur the Blues on this year.

‘The memory of last year’s county final is definitely still there,’ Coakley commented.

‘We had a couple of injuries going into that game. For Bantry Blues to play their best football, we need everyone there and going well for us.

‘Look, it didn’t work out for us last year but, hopefully, this year, we can go further.’

Paddy Cronin currently tops the Bantry scoring charts with 1-14 from his three group outings to date. Cork senior Ruairí Deane, Arthur Coakley (junior) and Sean O’Leary have been equally proficient in front of goal.

Accruing 1-14 and 1-10 (twice) in their three group games underlines the Blues’ consistent efforts this season. They will need a similar total if not better against their next opponents.

‘You can’t beat the experience of big days like last year’s county final with Kanturk and we will need that against Nemo Rangers,’ Coakley added.

‘I can see that the players have learnt an awful lot from last year’s run to the final. Hopefully that will stand to us.

‘Nemo Rangers play a great brand of football. Their players are all coached the right way. Ephie Fitzgerald is looking after them so you know Nemo are going to be in tip-top condition for this game. They will be hard to beat.

‘We are focussed on ourselves though. We play a particular style and I don’t think we have played enough of it this year. The hope is that we can pull it all together on Sunday and play an entertaining, fast game of football.

‘We haven’t played enough of that compared to last year but we are getting there. I believe that there is a big performance in us. Hopefully, we will see it in Enniskeane against Nemo.’

Ruairí Deane missed the Blues’ recent championship draw with Macroom. A full bill of health, including the return of Bantry’s Cork senior,  would represent a welcome boost ahead of their toughest test of the year.

‘Come throw-in, we are hoping that our first 15 will be available to us,’ Coakley added. ‘There is no club that doesn’t have a few injuries. That is the way it is. There are a few lads on the treatment table but we are hoping that they will all come good for us.’

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