BY DENIS HURLEY
BALLINASCARTHY is the venue on Friday evening for the first Bandon and Clonakilty county football championship clash in more than half a century (7.30pm).
Both West Cork clubs were beaten in the opening round, Cill na Martra seeing off Bandon while Kildorrery beat Clon, and this Round 2B tie will propel one team back into the championship and eliminate the other.
Since the Cill na Martra game, Bandon’s focus was on hurling for four weeks, their premier intermediate team beating Charleille.
While manager Colm Aherne hasn’t had a huge amount of time to get ready, he is hopeful that lessons have been learned.
‘The main thing for us is to try to learn from the mistakes of the first day,’ he says.
‘As a management, we definitely made some and the players did too. A back door is great, but only if you can learn and put things right.’
The Lilywhites are top of Division 4 of the county football league, but the championship was a big step up.
‘It was a big learning curve, really,’ Aherne says.
‘The big advantage that they had was that they had been playing Division 2 league football all along, up against premier intermediate teams.
‘It took us 25 minutes to get to grips with that and the game was gone by that stage.
‘I think we all probably got a bit sucked in by our good form in the league, it probably gave us a false sense of where we were.’
One of Bandon’s league wins was the 0-15 to 1-6 triumph against Clon in February, but Aherne isn’t placing any store in that match.
‘There’ll be an awful lot of difference between the team they’ll have against us and the team that played in the league, they’ll have eight fellas who played senior football last year,’ he says.
‘With the U21 success of the last few years too, they’ve a nice blend of youth and experience right now. Against someone else’s second team, you might take it for granted but never against Clon.
‘In the West Cork championship in 2010, they beat us and some of the older fellas on the team wouldn’t have had too much success against them.’
Clon’s team has changed slightly since the Kildorrery game, as manager SeAn Cowhig outlines.
‘We’ve lost Liam O’Donovan and Josh Henry to the senior set-up,’ he says, ‘but then the likes of David O’Regan and a few more are back so that gives you a good mix of the younger lads.’
While the 2-15 to 0-11 scoreline looks lopsided, it was closer than that.
‘On the day, I think it came down to the goal chances,’ Cowhig says.
‘We missed one, they went down the field and got a goal, then later in the game it was the same thing so it was kind of like a double punishment.
‘We competed well, which we were happy with and the league form isn’t bad, we’re fourth in the table so we’re pleased with how we’ve been going.”
Bandon represent a tough test again, Cowhig acknowledges.
‘You’d have to say that they’re hot favourites,’ he says.
‘We knew that if we lost there was a chance of playing them and it was probably the hardest game to get. They had a great year last year and they’ve continued that in their league form.
‘We’ll have to be at our best if we’re to take anything from it.’