Lilywhites want to build on county hurling title
BY DENIS HURLEY
IT has already been an outstanding year for Bandon, and it still has the potential to get better.
On Sunday in Cloughduv (2pm), the Lilywhites will look to build on their county PIHC win as they meet the Waterford champions, Dunhill or Lismore – the Déise final is on Friday night.
Put it to Bandon goalkeeper Pat Prendergast that he wouldn’t have expected to be involved in such an occasion when playing centre-forward for the club’s junior team a few years ago, and he goes even further.
‘I wouldn’t have dreamed it even at the start of the year,’ he says.
‘I know that the team were good enough to give the county a rattle, but I didn’t think I’d be a part of it.
‘James McSweeney, our goalkeeper for the last few years, was going to be away with the Army and Stephen Murphy, the sub, was gone to New Zealand, so one of our selectors, Paddy Cahalane, got in touch in January asking if I’d be interested.
Having been a part of the Bandon team which won the county junior in 1999, Prendergast won an SFC medal with Carbery in 2004. They are two of the five county wins he has been part of, with Bandon winning the junior football last year and PIHC and IFC this year. With the focus more on football, he was content to play outfield for the junior hurling team.
‘I’d say it’s nearly a decade since I had played in goal for the first team,’ the 36-year-old says.
‘I was sub keeper alright a few years ago but that was just filling in. John Crowley was in goal when Bandon got to the intermediate finals in 2007 and ’08, then Eoin Duggan was there and then James.
‘I was playing outfield for the juniors, centre-forward or full-forward, and we won the West Cork in 2009. I think it helped my goalkeeping though, your touch and awareness improves.
‘To be asked back was brilliant, Colm Fogarty the U21 keeper is in with me too. We said we’d see how it went and I’ve loved it. Niall O’Halloran is a great coach and we’re enjoying our hurling.’
Prendergast, a garda who is now stationed in Macroom after a period in Clonakilty, doesn’t believe that Bandon will have any problems re-focusing after the luxury of a week off following a hectic schedule.
‘It’ll be like after we won the hurling, I think,’ he says.
‘We beat Fermoy on the Sunday and enjoyed that night but we were back training on the Monday, we knew it was only a week to prepare for the football final against Rockchapel and it was a great opportunity so we had to make the most of it.
‘When we won that, it was kind of like a celebration of the two of them and that was brilliant but there’s a chance for more success now and we want to take it.’
Last year, having won the county junior, Bandon beat Tipperary’s Golden/Kilfeacle but fell to Kerry champions Templenoe by three points in the Munster semi-final in Clonakilty.
Templenoe’s quality was shown as they won the All-Ireland – they lost the Kerry intermediate final only last week – and Prendergast is hopeful that that provincial odyssey can prove educational for the Lilywhites.
‘Last year, we got to the Munster and we were probably thinking that it was bonus territory,’ he says.
‘Templenoe beat us by a goal and then won the All-Ireland and you’d be thinking after that you weren’t that far away after all, so it’s important to make the most of these kinds of opportunities.
‘We’ve been training hard, even though it is a bit odd that we don’t actually know who we’re playing yet. I presume some of the management will be at that final on Friday but even then it’s difficult to even have a team meeting to prepare for whichever one of the teams we’re up against.’
Does a rested Bandon team go into the game in better shape than a side playing their second game in 42 or so hours?
‘You’d imagine that, whether it’s Dunhill or Lismore, they’ll hold off on Friday and be ready to go again Sunday, with a lot of momentum behind them.
‘There is a danger of picking up injuries I suppose, but it’s going to be a huge challenge, whoever it is.
‘People might think that we have a huge advantage with it being in Cork but we haven’t played in Cloughduv with a while either so it’s kind of a new pitch to us too.
‘All along, it was good that we were nearly alternating weekends with hurling and football, but it should help now that the sole focus on this. Winning the county was great and it would be better still if we could add to that.’