BY KIERAN McCARTHY
NEWLY-PROMOTED Bandon are looking to get life in Munster Junior League Division 1 off to a flying start this Sunday.
The Bandon rugby team enjoyed a dream season last time out when not only did they win promotion from Division 2 as champions, but they also won the Munster Junior League Clubs Challenge Shield title and the O’Neill Cup.
This Sunday they begin their Division 1 adventure with a mouth-watering West Cork derby against Skibbereen, in Bandon at 2.30pm.
These are exactly the games that Bandon are looking forward to this season, and when you throw Clonakilty into the mix, there are three proud West Cork towns all fighting for supremacy, and bragging rights, in Division 1 of the Munster Junior League.
This Sunday, Clonakilty are away to Kilfeacle, so, closer to home, all eyes will be on Bandon’s clash against Skibbereen.
‘It’s a great game for us to start life in Division 1 and it would be even better if we could win,’ said Dan Murphy, part of Bandon’s junior management team.
‘Our aim this season is to consolidate our place in the league, and if we do better we’ll see where that takes us.
‘We are taking this one step at a time, starting this Sunday. We want to win every game and we hope to get off to a winning start against Skibbereen.
‘It’s a local derby. Skibbereen are one of the stalwarts of West Cork rugby, they’ve been in Division 1 for a long time so it’s great for us to be back up there, playing the likes of Skibbereen and Clonakilty.’
Bandon have retained most of the players that achieved promotion last season in that fantastic campaign, and key to their hopes this year will be club captain Tom Ferguson, Scottie Kingston, last year’s captain Tim Crowley, Des Prendergast, JP Lucey, while Richard Walsh at number nine is a big player.
Division 1 rugby is a big challenge for Bandon, but one the club is ready for, on and off the field, as Murphy explains.
‘We’ve done a lot of work in the club too. We’ve reseeded our training pitch, we have match-quality floodlights, and there have been a lot of tweaks here and there to get us ready,’ Murphy said.
‘With the World Cup starting last weekend it’s put rugby at the forefront of peoples’ minds, and the domestic season is after creeping up on us very fast, but we’re looking forward to Sunday and a great local derby.’
Later on Sunday evening, in Pool D of the Rugby World Cup, Ireland take on Romania as they look to gather momentum ahead of the upcoming battles against Italy and France, but here at home in West Cork a more important battle will be taking place – Bandon v Skibbereen as the local action gets off to a cracking start.