DENIS HURLEY REPORTS
BANDON remain in the hunt for promotion to the Ulster Bank League as they produced an excellent performance to see off Ashbourne at Old Chapel on Saturday.
Having lost their opening provincial champions round-robin tie to Ballina a fortnight previously, Bandon needed a win and they got it in emphatic fashion, scoring four tries in each half.
While Ballina’s victory over Instonians on Saturday means that they are the favourites to take the automatic promotion spot, another victory for Bandon at home to the Ulster champions this weekend will see them enter into a promotion/relegation play-off with Bruff, who finished second-bottom in Division 2C.
Despite falling behind to an early try from Ashbourne captain Donal Crotty, Bandon responded well to lead 24-7 at half-time. Billy Crowley got the first try after strong running from prop Michael Murphy and then Crowley was the catalyst for Christian Mulcahy to put them ahead on 28.
Gearóid Crowley made it 17-7 when he profited from good work by Santiago Gonzalez, Rhys Harrold and Kerry Desmond on 37 and just before the break flanker Conall Bromwich made sure of the bonus point as Tom Ferguson’s lineout win led to a great drive and a pushover try.
Desmond, who kicked 15 points in total, felt that Bandon approached the first half in the perfect mindset after the early blip.
‘The intensity that we brought to the game at the start was unreal,’ he said.
‘Our line-speed and defence, everything was working out well for us. The crowd here is unbelievable too, when they’re behind us it makes it so much easier.’ The lead was extended further when Gearóid Crowley got his second try early in the second half, Desmond’s conversion making it 31-7, and he was on hand again when Billy Crowley got his second after a knifing run.
A 31-point advantage was commanding but Ashbourne responded well with Gearóid Crowley in the sin bin, Joey Szparat pulling a try back for them and they added two more from Jake Wall and Shane Boland to come within 12 points, 31-26, though Billy Crowley blocked Crotty’s conversion effort following the latter score.
Bandon settled again as Desmond kicked a conversion and they added two more tries before the end from Mulcahy and Enda Phelan to win by 29.
‘Usually, in every game after half-time we lose the intensity a little bit,’ Desmond said.
‘We really worked on trying to maintain that. We let it go a little but during the second half, but we picked it back up again after that.
‘It was fairly worrying when they ran in two or three tries in a row, but once we settled again we pushed on.’
Bandon: Olan Crowley; Christian Mulcahy, Billy Crowley, Kerry Desmond, Gearóid Crowley; Rhys Harrold, Santiago Gonzalez; Michael Murphy, Scott Kingston, Tim Crowley; Ryan Hayes, Enda Phelan; Conall Bromwich, Tom Ferguson, Kieran Phelan. Replacements: Aidan Slattery, Mark Phelan, Cian Buttimer, Philip Murphy, Jerry Crowley.
Ashbourne: Stephen O’Neill; Casey Dunne, Jack O’Brien, Adam Martin, Matt Connelly; Donal Crotty, Shane Bass; Brian Roche, Brendan Meehan, Alan Wall; Conor Hurley, Geoff Mahon; Simon Deevy, Jake Wall, Joey Szparat. Replacements: Mark Behan, Frank Keegan, Shane Boland, Dermot McCreevy, Conor McNally.
Referee: J Cairns (IRFU).