BY DENIS HURLEY
WHILE county championship doubles are the ultimate aim for both Bandon and Fermoy, all thoughts of football will be put to one side for their PIHC decider in Páirc Uí Rinn on Sunday (2pm).
For Bandon it’s a second final in the grade since winning the IHC in 2011, having carried that momentum into the following campaign only to lose to Ballinhassig at the final hurdle. Since then, they hadn’t got past the fourth round, losing to Tracton, Cloyne and Valley Rovers respectively, but this year has seen them rediscover form with a bang, seeing off Charleville, Watergrasshill, Kilworth and Mallow to make it to Sunday.
The regularity of games, hurling one week and football the next, has helped the momentum to develop, increasing with each win across the codes. That, and the experience within the squad – Donough Lucey, Charles Dullea, Jason Hickey, Darren Crowley, James O’Donovan and Eoghan O’Donovan will be playing in their sixth adult county finals, while goalkeeper Pat Prendergast was between the sticks for the county JAHC win in 1999 – could be key.
In attack, the return of Mike Cahalane has provided an extra scoring outlet alongside the impressive Ronan Crowley and Mark Sugrue, with Darren Crowley’s dead-ball accuracy another big asset.
Dullea was outstanding at midfield in the win over Mallow and his tireless industry will be vital and in defence the likes of Philip Crowley, Eoin Ryan, James Walsh and Peter Murphy will provide a bulwark that Fermoy will find difficult to break down.
Cian O’Mahony scored one of the priceless goals in the semi-final and this is an area that has been fruitful for the Lilywhites thus far, with eight green flags raised and only four conceded. Fermoy failed to find the net in their drawn semi-final with Cloyne and the replay and if they can be shut out again, then one would hope that Bandon have enough point-scoring power.
Against Mallow, Bandon were able to introduce Roy Payne, Matthew McNamara and Joe Harrington from the bench, all good players, and squad depth is another extra where they look to have an advantage.
Fermoy have been slow to use subs throughout their campaign and the loss of Cork footballer Tomás Clancy through suspension will further hamper them. The North Cork side are not without talented players, like Liam Coleman and Shane Aherne, their primary scorers in the win over Cloyne at the second time of asking, Jack Hutchings, David Geary and Brian O’Sullivan, and have responded well having lost to the same East Cork side in Round 2A after beating Kilworth first time out.
Charleville and Inniscarra fell to them before the revenge against Cloyne and, with the IHC won in 2014 and the IFC in 2015, they are on a roll. To achieve senior hurling for the first time in the club’s history, having been junior A in 2009, would be incredible for Fermoy.
By the start of ’09, some of Bandon’s heroes were dealing with their second successive IHC final loss. They escaped that grade and they don’t deserve to lose another final. We don’t always get what we deserve, but Bandon should. A narrow Lilywhite win.