WEST CORK GAEL REPORTS
IT was a case of third time lucky for Bandon intermediate hurlers at Kilbrittain on St Patrick’s Day.
Not alone did they succeed in thwarting the current holders and host’s ambitions of making it three-in-a-row titles against them, but this was their first time garnering the magnificent Micheál Holland Memorial Cup since its launch in 2009.
This emphatic seven-point victory over their great rivals and next-door neighbours ensures that bragging rights currently belong to the Bandonians, and rightly so as they outclassed a disappointing Black and Amber 15.
Granted, the Seasiders upped the tempo considerably for the second half, after a disastrous opening 30 minutes when they played second fiddle all over the pitch to a svelte and sophisticated Bandon team, who amassed a comprehensive interval lead, 1-12 to 0-5.
While Kilbrittain are to be complimented on a committed comeback, limiting their opponents to just five points in the closing half, the goal they craved for, that was so vital to their hopes of making for a rousing finale, never arrived, and Bandon got back the initiative in the closing minutes, running out comfortable winners.
The big difference between the sides was the ability of their respective forward lines to pick off scores. While Bandon had also an embarrassment of riches in this department, Kilbrittain’s forward sextet often existed on crumbs.
This was never more in evidence that during the opening half when the Lilywhites forwards led their respective opponents a merry dance, keeping the scoreboard operator on overtime as they picked off a litany of points with aplomb from all angles and distances.
Both Mark Sugrue and Darren Crowley were real tour-de-force operators during that productive Bandon patch, Sugrue hitting three glorious points, while Crowley amassed an astounding personal tally of 1-8 in the opening half.
His goal, the only one of the game, arrived in the 23rd minute when Bandon led 0-10 to 0-3. A real peach of a score it was too as the impressive James Walsh sent a superb high ball into a crowded Kilbrittain goalmouth.
In one sublime movement, Crowley gained possession, pivoted and fired an unstoppable drive high into the roof of the Kilbrittain rigging.
It was a defining moment as it consolidated Bandon’s advantage, while cushioning them against Kilbrittain’s second-half comeback.
But while Crowley and Sugrue were Bandon’s scoring sorcerers, there was much to admire about the solid play of their defensive lines where all put their shoulders to the wheels – James O’Donovan, captain Donagh Lucey, Joe Harrington and Matthew McNamara the shining lights.
To Kilbrittain’s credit, they kept plugging away during this torrid spell, particularly pivot Ross Cashman who pointed a sublime free from way out on the touchline in the 12th minute.
Positive too was the contribution of Maurice Sexton from frees, while Tomás Harrington, Dave Desmond, John Murphy and Chris Hickey were working hard to stem the Bandon scoring tsunami.
When Mark Sugrue fired over a lovely point for Bandon in the 31st minute, one feared that a Bandon landslide was imminent. Remarkably, just four more points by the winners punctuated their second-half endeavours, a sublime effort from the stick of Eoghan Ryan all of 20 minutes later in the 51st minute, a brace from play and a free, in the 55th and 56th minutes, by Darren Crowley and a smashing score by Sugrue in the 61st minute.
In the interim, a number of positional switches, substitutions and a more urgent and workmanlike approach by Kilbrittain ensured that alone did they not restore respectability, they made a huge contribution to an enjoyable closing half.
In fact, in the 35th minute it took a fantastic goalmouth clearance by Bandon goalkeeper James McSweeney to deprive Pat O’Mahony, while again at the close of the third quarter Maurice Sexton was denied by Matthew McNamara as Kilbrittain came desperately close to finding the Bandon net.
While Maurice Sexton kept the scoreboard ticking over from frees and scores from Dave Desmond, Alan Hayes, Ross Cashman (f) and substitute Josh O’Donovan cut the deficit considerably, Bandon still ran out comfortable winners.
After the game John Corcoran, chairman Carbery Board, presented the cup to Bandon skipper Donagh Lucey.
Bandon: Darren Crowley 1-10 (7f), Mark Sugrue 0-5, James Walsh, Eoghan Ryan 0-1 each.
Kilbrittain: Maurice Sexton 0-5 (4f), Ross Cashman 0-3f, Dave Desmond 0-2, Alan Hayes, Josh O’Donovan, Tomás Harrington 0-1 each.
Bandon: James McSweeney; Matthew McNamara, James O’Donovan, Joe O’Mahony; Peter Murphy, Donagh Lucey, Joe Harrington; Cha Dullea, James Walsh; Darren Crowley, Jason Hickey, Rory Fogarty; Adam Murphy, Mark Sugrue, Eoghan Ryan.
Subs used: Philip Crowley for Adam Murphy (ht),Cian O’Mahony for Dullea (40), Philip Murphy for Philip Crowley (50), Rob Wilmot for Fogarty (60), Mark O’Regan for Ryan (61).
Kilbrittain: Robert Hayes; Sean Crowley, John Murphy, Cal McCarthy; Nick O’Donovan, Damien Desmond, Ivan Burke; Tomás Harrington, Ross Cashman; David Desmond, Chris Hickey, Maurice Sexton; Pat O’Mahony, Alan Hayes, Denis Murphy.
Subs used: Josh O’Donovan for Denis Murphy (41), Patrick O’Mahony for Nick O’Donovan (51), Seamus O’Brien for Hayes (53), Eamonn Lyons for Pat O’Mahony (55).
Referee: Donal Shorten (St Mary’s).