WHILE he admits to having been surprised to be asked to captain the Bandon junior rugby team, Kerry Desmond is looking forward to leading the side as they seek to defend the Munster JL Division 1 title.
Bandon begin their 2018-19 league campaign next weekend, away to Waterpark, gearing up for that with a home County Cup meeting away to Cobh Pirates on Saturday (7pm).
Desmond, who is comfortable playing anywhere in the back five, is currently undertaking the Teagasc professional diploma in dairy farm management, technically under the auspices of the Moorepark facility in Fermoy but in practice on the farm run by Lawrence Sexton and John Hallissey in Kilbrittain.
Come the weekends, farm management will give way to game management as he adjusts to his new role as skipper.
‘It was a very big surprise, I wasn’t expecting it at all,’ he says.
‘We had a ceremony after winning the league last season and [team manager and club president] Dan Murphy and [outgoing captain] Tom Ferguson asked me. I accepted straightaway, it’s a huge honour and I was delighted, it just caught me unawares!’
Desmond has had three pre-season games to settle down to the task and he is enjoying it while also cognisant of his new responsibilities.
‘You’re not only thinking about your own game but the whole team’s performance and everyone else’s game,’ he says.
‘You’re dealing with the referee too, which is something you have to keep in mind, but I think it’s the kind of thing that you get better at the more experience you have.
‘The great thing about being captain as a back is that you have a pack leader in the forwards and that’s Scott Kingston, he’s the vice-captain too so he’s a big help.’
Having been the hunters for the past few campaigns, seeking to dethrone Clonmel, Bandon are now the team everyone else wants to beat. To that end, Desmond is keen to face into the start of the league with a win. ‘We won the County Cup two years ago,’ he says, ‘so it’s a trophy we like. We’ve won the three pre-season games too and we want to keep that momentum going.As champions, there is that bit of extra pressure but you channel that positively and fellas will be motivated to hold on to the title.’
While the bulk of last year’s successful side is still intact, Bandon have been able to add Matthew Crowley and Seán Galvin from last year’s U18 All-Ireland-winning side. In addition, there is a change on the sideline as South African André Human replaces Régis Sonnes, who has returned to France to take up a role with Toulouse.
‘André seems to be settling in very well,’ Desmond says.
‘He has the same king of rugby mind as Régis, so we’re playing in a similar way to the last few years.
‘That obviously suits us, we’re essentially just looking to keep doing what we have been. Matthew and Seán have both done very well since they’ve come in too, they’re bringing the momentum from the U18s and it’s great for the rest of us to have that impetus.’