IT’S a cup final with a difference for Bandon RFC this Sunday as they clash with Richmond at Musgrave Park (2pm).
Up for grabs is the Munster Junior Clubs Challenge Cup, which Bandon won for the only time in 2001, having lost the decider two years ago to Kilfeacle and District.
However, added to the need for victory is the fact that the game doubles up as a Munster Junior League Division 1 clash – it was originally scheduled for last Sunday but the clubs agreed to postpone it and combine with the cup final.
The reigning league champions, Bandon have two games to play and currently sit ten points behind leaders Clonmel, on whom they have a game in hand before playing the Tipperary side in their last game.
It means that, as well as trying to win the cup, they must look for a four-try bonus point on Sunday to keep their hopes of retaining the league alive and captain Kerry Desmond admits it’s an unusual situation.
‘If it was a league game, you’d be going gung-ho for the bonus point,’ he says, ‘while if it was just a cup final, you’d take anything, 3-0 would do.
‘The main thing for us to do is to concentrate on winning the match first and then we can look at the bonus point.’
Even if Bandon were to enjoy a bonus-point win and then repeat the dose against Clonmel, it may not be enough for the title, with Newcastlewest currently in second, six ahead of Bandon and with bottom side St Mary’s their final opponents.
The game at Newcastlewest has been Bandon’s only league defeat so far, with a draw away to Abbeyfeale as well. It’s an illustration of the high standard.
‘We’ve lost just once,’ Desmond says, ‘but it shows how important the bonus points are in our league.
‘That’s where we struggled at the start of the season, we left a few behind us. We’ve done well since Christmas and even though we lost to Kilfeacle in the Munster Junior Cup, we beat them in the league the next week. We were very fired up to put in a good performance that day.’
Last year, Bandon needed bonus-point wins in each of their last four league games and such a scenario gives confidence that they can do what is needed this time around. However, Desmond knows it’s important to focus on the cup final, too.
‘Last year, we knew it was in our own hands,’ he says, ‘this time we need teams to slip up as well, but we’ll do what we can.
‘This cup is the one trophy we haven’t won over the last couple of years, so it would be nice to win that and have another piece of silverware.
‘We always enjoy playing at Musgrave Park, we played Kanturk there a few weeks ago and the lads put in a brilliant performance. The fast pitch really suits our game.’
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