BANDON completed a terrific treble by winning their third trophy of the season when they beat Charleville in the final of the O’Neill Cup in Rathcooney on Sunday.
Bandon hadn’t played since their league loss to Clanwilliam five weeks ago so were a little nervous as the game kicked off.
They couldn’t have dreamed of a better start though when after the kick-off failed to go ten metres, they scored directly off the scrum.
Quick hands gave Christian Mulcahy a couple of yards of space on the wing and he backed himself to beat the cover on the outside to score a fine try that Richie Walsh converted to give Bandon an early 7 – 0 lead.
Charleville responded well though and were carrying the ball well into contact where Bandon’s tackling was pretty ineffective.
Bandon were also falling foul of the referee and were regularly getting penalised at the breakdown.
Charleville elected to kick two of these penalties through outhalf Shane Corkery and reduced the lead down to 7 – 6.
While Charleville were dominating possession and making some ground in the tight Bandon were always dangerous in the loose play and equally in defence; some fine tackles by Conor Pullen in particular had Charleville on the backfoot.
Bandon were rewarded when some good interplay in the backs worked a gap for full back Kevin Brophy, who scooted through to score in the corner. This score went unconverted and Charleville responded with another penalty to reduce the arrears to 12 – 9.
The key message for Bandon at half time was to improve their discipline and reduce the penalty count that was keeping Charleville in the game.
Bandon started well and dominated possession from the kick off. A couple of early attacks were repelled before they worked a one-on-one for Mighty Okafor on the right wing.
Mighty beat his man to score another fine try and put some daylight between the teams.
Bandon were completely in the ascendancy in this phase of the game and with Charleville struggling to contain them soon, the West Cork side got a second score through outhalf Jack Murphy, who made a sharp break from halfway to beat the cover for a converted try. This left the score at 24 – 9 with Bandon threatening to pull away.
To their credit though Charleville redoubled their efforts and got their ball-carrying game going again. Another penalty was conceded by Bandon to make it 24 – 12.
At this stage a score either way was going to be vital and Charleville threatened after a long-range penalty attempt was spilled under the posts.
Bandon regrouped though and some excellent defence prevented a score that could have been critical at this juncture.
Having survived this scare Bandon were again on the attack and some slick handling freed up Conor Pullen to break through and score near the posts.
This was the clinching score and was quickly followed by another as again outhalf Jack Murphy showed great pace to break through and score for another try that made the score 34 – 12.
Again, Charleville came back and were rewarded at the death when Shane O’Sullivan scored in the corner for an unconverted try that left the final score at 34 – 17.
This was Bandon’s final game of the season and to finish with a third trophy was a great end to a super season.
They have provided excellent entertainment this season, scoring over 100 tries in all competitions and winning their way back to division one of the Munster Junior League after a long hiatus.
Next season will prove to be a different challenge but one that they have the talent to deal with.
Bandon: Tim Crowley (captain), Mike Murphy, Colin Jackson, Enda Phelan, Des Prendergast, Scott Kingston, Nicky Walsh, Tom Ferguson, Richie Walsh, Jack Murphy, Gearoid Crowley, Conor Pullen, Mighty Okafor, Christian Mulcahy, Kevin Brophy, Kevin Lucey, Gerry Crowley, Mark Phelan, James Neville, Gearoid O’Leary.