BANDON AFC will celebrate their 50th anniversary with a glamour friendly against Cork City in Town Park this weekend.
The West Cork soccer club is using the visit of Neale Fenn’s League of Ireland side as an opportunity to showcase their Town Park playing facilities with free entry to the game on Saturday afternoon.
It is a busy time for the club’s committee but PRO Richie O’Regan is looking forward to what should be an entertaining game against a side that made its last appearance in Bandon over 16 years ago.
‘We are delighted to have Cork City coming down to play us as they are a fantastic League of Ireland club,’ O’Regan told The Southern Star.
‘We appreciate City coming down to help launch our 50th celebrations. Cork would have previously played Bandon back in 2004 to celebrate Bandon town’s 40th anniversary. I remember as a teenager being in Town Park to watch that Cork City team complete with Irish international Kevin Doyle (who scored) and Roy O’Donovan.
‘Bandon earned themselves a 2-2 draw against a City side that would go on to win the League of Ireland title the following season. Interestingly, Neale Fenn played in that game and is now returning as City’s manager 16 years later. We are delighted that Neale and the club have included Bandon as part of their pre-season and hope to give them a good game.’
Later on Saturday evening, former Cork City manager John Caulfield will launch a 12-month calendar of events Bandon AFC are running to promote their club and celebrate 50 years of existence. It is hoped past and present members of the club along with anyone else interested in the club’s development will attend at Copper Grove.
Bandon soccer club caters for a huge number of players at both adult and youth level. A dedicated underage academy has helped graduate players into the club’s senior setup and multiple successes in recent times. Reaching the FAI Cup second round in 2013 and claiming the Munster Senior Division 1 League two years later are recent examples.
Perhaps Bandon’s most famous graduate is Republic of Ireland international, Aston Villa midfielder and recent 2019 West Cork Sports Star of the Year Award winner Conor Hourihane.
‘We have hundreds of young players taking part in schoolboys, schoolgirls and youth league football,’ Richie O’Regan added.
‘Bandon has two teams in every age group from U12, U13 and U14 upwards. That’s testament to the academy we run every Saturday morning which caters for big numbers of over 100 children and run by Brendan Cullen. Our youths (U18s) play in the Cork Youth League and we have both junior and senior teams competing in the Munster Senior League (MSL) as well.
‘Overall, at adult level we have over 40 registered players. On top of that we have anything up to 25 youths players plus at underage, you are talking about hundreds of children from U10 to U16.’
It is fair to say that Bandon AFC is thriving both on and off the pitch and their 50th anniversary celebrations will further enhance the West Cork club’s reputation over the coming year.