THE Bandon RFC U16B team – composed entirely of U15 players – kicked off a wonderful weekend for the club by winning the Munster U16 Bowl competition last Thursday week.
Up against a strong Clonmel side at Irish Independent Park, Bandon triumphed on a scoreline of 39-7 to bring the silverware home.
To reach this final, this young Bandon team beat a formidable Listowel team in an epic game where the lead changed hands five times in a tough battle. The next round was against Dolphin RFC, where the boys in blue and white had the advantage. The semi-final against Bantry, as expected turned out to be a tough game where local bragging rights and a place in the final were the victors. A great defensive performance with some great tries carried the team through to the final.
The opponents in the decider, Clonmel, had beaten a strongly tipped combination of Shannon, Crescent and Garryowen in the northern semi-final, but they had no answer to the West Cork side.
Within just a few minutes of the starting whistle, a turnover from the Bandon pack enabled the backs to flash the ball wide and Tom Desmond went in for the first of his three tries on the night. The speed of the Bandon players, combined with a willingness to play running rugby from anywhere on the pitch pushed the Clonmel team to the maximum.
Great defensive roles by Adam Murphy, Liam O’Donnachadha and Conor Manning led to many turnovers. Brendan Twohig was always in the thick of the action and this facilitated quick ball to Dylan Barr who moved the ball to Jeff Williams with great speed. Not to be outdone by the forwards display in defence, Mark Collins and Jonathan Kenneally were having one of those nights where nothing was passing them.
Their efforts, as well as those of Jacob O’Driscoll, Conor Ustianowski and Tom Desmond kept Clonmel to scoring just one try for the night. Cillian Lynch and Mark O’Shea kept punching through the gaps while Daniel McGarvey and JC Van Der Westhuizen tackled like demons!
It was a wonderful sight to see such running rugby in awful conditions. The team ran ball from their own 22m line in very poor weather. As a result of plenty of training and commitment, the inter-play between all 15 players resulted in fast rugby, quick recycling of the ball and great attacking play putting Clonmel under pressure. Bandon did have a few scares where the committed Clonmel team were not going to give up but a resolute defence kept scoring to a minimum.
These fine young men from Bandon RFC showed great skill, commitment and, despite such poor conditions, kept up a high tempo game throughout the evening. The replacemens that came also ensured that there was no drop in standards. James O’Sullivan, Matthew O’Dwyer, David O’Dwyer, Nathan Byrne, Shane Hathaway, Cian Dunne, John Barry, Eoin Bracken were all given the opportunity to show their skills and they did not let the side down.
Great credit is due to the coaches of this team, Paul Barr, Trevor Collins and John Desmond, who ensure that they keep up the standards. It was great to have a 16th man available to the team as a result of such great and vocal support from the Bandon supporters.