Kerry Desmond’s late try snatches dramatic win
GER McCARTHY REPORTS
THEY left it late but Bandon capped off an historic weekend by overcoming Instonians 21-17 in a crucial All-Ireland Provincial League round-robin clash at Old Chapel last Saturday.
On the same afternoon the West Cork club’s U18’s were crowned All-Ireland club champions, Bandon’s senior team secured a play-off away to Bruff with promotion to Division 2C of the Ulster Bank Rugby All-Ireland League on offer for the winners in Kilballyowen this weekend.
‘It probably wasn’t our greatest performance but we’ll take the victory,” admitted Bandon captain Tom Ferguson.
‘We got the break right at the end and got in for a try to win it. That’s great heading into next weekend up in Bruff and even better to have such a tough game behind us now as well. That will stand us in good stead.
‘I think it is an advantage for us in a way that the play-off is against another Munster team in Bruff. A lot of Munster teams play similarly and we are playing away to those teams all year.
‘We won an U18 All-Ireland up in Skerries today with a massive crowd up there and here in Old Chapel as well. It is unbelievable to have that kind of backing and support behind us so hopefully we can go on and do the business against Bruff.’
The permutations were straightforward for both clubs ahead of kick off. Victory for Bandon would cement a play-off berth while Instonians required a bonus point win to secure a similar outcome.
A scrappy first half suited Instonians perfectly who slowly grew into the game, kicking intelligently and forcing Bandon into defensive mode towards the end of the opening period. The Northerners were rewarded with a try when eight phases of play emanating from a scrum deep in Bandon’s 22 ended with Fraser Wright crossing the try line and completing a difficult conversion.
It was 7-0 to Instonians at the end of a forgettable first 40 minutes and only a staunch defence that forced a knock-on under the posts prevented the West Cork side from falling further behind at the start of the second period.
It took a moment of magic to bring Bandon level, conjuring up a marvellous score when Billy Crowley sliced through Instonian’s defence and offloaded to Kerry Desmond whose perfectly timed pass sent Gearoid O’Leary over. Jerry Crowley floated his conversion between the posts to tie the score after 51 minutes.
Crowley should have edged Bandon ahead shortly after but missed a penalty into the wind and the visitors capitalised almost immediately. Moving the ball deep into Bandon’s 22, a decision to kick for the sideline proved worthwhile when Andrew Keane went in at the corner following patient build-up.
A missed conversion from a difficult angle meant Bandon trailed 12-7 and knowing nothing less than a try would suffice in a must-win game. The hosts were forced to dig deep but their pack came up trumps, mauling the ball over the try-line and captain Tom Ferguson touching down before another Jerry Crowley conversion made it 14-12.
Yet disaster struck once again when Instonians elected for a scrum rather than a straightforward penalty in front of the posts as the clock ticked towards full time. Joe Freyers touched down before Fraser Wright’s conversion made it 17-14 to silence the crowd.
Multiple stoppages and reset scrums resulted in a lengthy added-on period where Bandon’s supporters found their voice and their team responded. Kerry Desmond collected a pass and left the Instonians players for dead before touching down and Jerry Crowley’s conversion preceded a final whistle drowned out amid jubilant scenes.
All roads lead to Kilballyowen in Bruff this weekend for another historic day in the history of this remarkable West Cork club.
Bandon: Olan Crowley; Christian Mulcahy, Jerry Crowley, Kerry Desmond, Gearoid Crowley; Billy Crowley, Santiago Gonzalez; Michael Murphy, Scott Kingston, Timothy Crowley; Cian Buttimer, Enda Phelan; Conall Bromwich, Ryan Hayes, Tom Ferguson (captain).
Replacements: Aidan Slattery, Mark Phelan, John Paul Lucey, Gearoid O’Leary, Luke Fleming.
Instonians: Richard McCarthy; Matthew Kilpatrick, Michael Melville, Joe Fryers, Andrew Keane; Fraser Wright, Matthew Keane; John Andress, Conor Gallagher, Alan Whitten; Roger Wilson, Sean Shuttleworth; Lewis McNamara, Joshua Atkinson (captain), Mark Mairs.
Replacements: Francesco Mezzavilla, Matthew Nelson, Rory McCurry, Jonathan Mooney and Cameron Williams.