KEVIN O’BRIEN REPORTS
A LAST-GASP penalty-try ensured Bandon took home the bragging rights and the points from Sunday’s Munster Junior League Division 1 clash at the Showgrounds.
The game, also doubling up as the Jim Kingston Cup, was a thoroughly entertaining contest throughout as Skibb responded well to a slow start and looked set to repeat their achievement of last season in beating their fellow West Cork side.
It was the visitors who applied the early pressure with Bandon’s Kerry Desmond opening the scoring 18 minutes in from a penalty due to not releasing in the ruck.
Skibbereen dealt very well with the constant waves of Bandon attacks with a very organised line with Skibbereen fly-half Matthew Bushe a loud voice on every occasion.
With five minutes remaining in the first half, Bandon broke away through Gearóid O’Leary and while he was stopped up on the line, Bandon’s pressure forced the home side to concede a penalty try for obstruction on the line.
Despite being 10-0 down, Skibbereen didn’t let their heads drop and just three minutes later got back into the contest. After regaining possession, Skibb centre Joseph Hickey kicked for touch and, expecting the ball to go out, Bandon stopped up preparing for the lineout but it was kept in play by fullback Daniel Kingston, who broke away down the right win to touch down and halve the deficit.
Matthew Bushe couldn’t convert, though the incident was marked effort with controversy as Skibb felt that Bandon’s players had started to run at Bushe before he began his movement towards the ball.
On the stroke of half-time, Bandon restored their ten-point lead with Matthew Crowley getting a try following a free-flowing move as he wriggled in between two Skibb players to touch down, leaving the visitors 15-5 ahead at the break.
Following the restart, Skibb came out revitalised and wasted little time on getting back into the game again. In the 50th minute, Hickey found a gap in the middle of the Bandon defence and burst through. Despite being being dragged back by two Bandon players, he mustered unbelievable strength to shrug them off and get the try. Like the first conversion, Matthew Bushe was unsuccessful was again frustrated by Bandon’s premature advancements towards him to block the kick.
Skibb were well and truly now on the front foot with momentum swinging in their favour.
The gap was brought down to two points as Matthew Bushe successfully split the posts with a penalty, and with 15 minutes remaining Skibbereen took the lead for the first time in this thriller. A kick from Bandon full-back Olan Crowley and was gathered and brought over the try line by Greg O’Mahony, with help of Tom Bushe. This was followed up by a Matthew Bushe conversion to give Skibb a five-point lead, 20-15, going into the final stages.
Bandon stepped their efforts for the equaliser and ultimately the winner as Skibb absorbed a serious amount of pressure. This contest took one more dramatic twist as Bandon were held up a matter of inches from the line and got to the line where they were awarded a second penalty try of the game to win the points and the Jim Kingston Memorial Trophy.
Skibbereen: Daniel Kingston, Joseph Hickey, Greg O’Mahony try each, Matthew Bushe penalty, conversion.
Bandon: Matthew Crowley try, two penalty tries, Kerry Desmond penalty.
Skibbereen: Daniel Kingston; Micheál O’Donovan, Tom Bushe, Joseph Hickey, Jan Donnelly; Matthew Bushe, Jack O’Driscoll; Tadgh Cullinane, Daniel Duggan, Kalum Hagen; Kevin Coombes, Odhran Hogan; Jack Reen, Kieran Shannon, Greg O’Mahony.
Replacements: Aidan Stout for Hagen, Cathal McCarthy for Hogan (both 66), Killian Newman for Hickey (79),
Bandon: Olan Crowley; Matthew Crowley, Jerry Crowley, Kerry Desmond, Gearóid O’Leary; Ben Ridgeway, Santiago Gonzalez; Mike Murphy, Scott Kingston, John Leahy; Cian Buttimer, Enda Phelan; Ryan Carey, Tim Crowley, Kieran Phelan.
Replacements: Mark Phelan for Leahy, Jack O’Reilly for Tim Crowley (both 52), Gerard Crowley for O’Leary (60).