BY KIERAN McCARTHY
IT’S only half-time in Bandon’s drive for the double, insists Donough Lucey.
The experienced campaigner is one of the many dual Bandon players who picked up a Cork PIHC winner’s medal last weekend, and now attention has turned to Sunday’s county intermediate football final against Rockchapel.
These are busy times for Lucey and his team-mates, but he wouldn’t change any of it, not even missing out on the customary few days of celebrations after a county final win earlier this week. Bandon partied last Sunday night, celebrating their hurling success like they should, but by Monday, the eyes were fixed on the next prize: the Cork IFC crown.
‘As a group of players that has been going so well over the last 12 months, fellas are mature enough to realise that these days don’t come around too often. It didn’t even have to be said, it was a given that we’d enjoy Sunday night and move on then on Monday morning, and focus on the football,’ Lucey said, before adding both football and hurling camps are bouncing with confidence these days.
‘It’s the same group of players, bar three or four, and the confidence from one feeds into the other.
‘Last year winning the junior football made this team, to be honest. That turned us around, so it’s only right that we get to finish it off with football as well.’
Lucey has started all six of Bandon’s intermediate football games this campaign, from the round one loss to Cill na Martra and all the wins that have since followed, against Clonakilty, Ballydesmond, Glanworth, Mitchelstown and Cill na Martra.
Bandon have come a long way from the team that struggled in the West Cork JAFC for years before making the big breakthrough last season, following up their divisional title with a county triumph that earned promotion to intermediate football.
‘Last year, and winning the county, was massive. People were in our ear saying that “Bandon are too good for junior”, but we never thought like that,’ Lucey said.
‘As a group of players we got together after a disappointing hurling defeat to Valley Rovers in Kinsale last year, we made a pact that we were going to turn things around. The West Cork came and the county came, and we’ve been on a good run since with both hurling and football.
‘This Sunday will be our biggest challenge. We were in a West Cork final 12 months ago and now we are in an intermediate county final, which is a big step up.
Lucey is wary of Rockchapel this Sunday, pointing out that they are the type of team that Bandon struggled against before.
‘They are a seasoned team and they are far more experienced in terms of football at this grade than we are,’ he said.
‘We know they are a big physical team. They come up against teams like Knocknagree down that side of the county, and they are the type of teams that we struggle to get over.
‘We won a county last Sunday, which was great, but this is a huge challenge again for us.’
But Lucey and Co have met all their challenges head on this year, and not even that first round IFC loss to Cill na Martra derailed them. Instead, they faced into Round 2B, thumped Clonakilty by 16 points and rocked on – on both fronts, football and hurling.
‘Maybe we were guilty over the years of not being able to juggle both. But the two selection committees have been excellent this year and everybody has been rowing in the same direction,’ said Lucey, explaining the secret behind Bandon’s dual success this season.
‘It was taken out of the players’ hands completely, which was brilliant. We’d get a text to say that it’s football one night and hurling the next. The two selection committees have done the business and as players all we have had to do was focus on whatever game was coming up.’
Next game up is Rockchapel in Páirc Uí Rinn this Sunday afternoon, and the chance to win two county titles within eight days. Good times to be involved in Bandon GAA.
‘It’s been an amazing season,’ he said.
‘There were a few of us talking about it on Sunday night, we had some dark years when I started playing, particularly in football. We were intermediate hurlers but we were really struggling at junior football. We couldn’t understand how we were so poor at the football, given that we had had some underage success.
‘But this year is up there with the best. Any year you play in two county finals is exceptional, but we are not getting carried away with it. We put down the cup last Sunday night and all the focus is now on this Sunday afternoon, it’s one more game for us. We’ll work our socks off to get another county because some of us don’t have too many years left so we’ll make the most out of this while we can.’
On a winning run
Dual Bandon veteran Donough Lucey has started all his club’s 11 football (IFC) and hurling (PIHC) championship games this year in what has been a busy year for the club’s dual players. Check this out.
April 24th: IFC Round 1, Cill na Martra 0-13 Bandon 1-7 (L)
May 21st: PIHC Round 1, Bandon 2-17 Charleville 1-13 (W)
June 10th: IFC Round 2B, Bandon 2-16 Clonakilty 0-6 (W)
June 18th: PIHC Round 2A, Bandon 2-15 Watergrasshill 0-16 (W)
August 7th: IFC Round 3, Bandon 3-8 Ballydesmond 0-14 (W)
August 13th: PIHC quarter-final, Bandon 2-17 Kilworth 1-18 (W)
August 21st: IFC Round 4, Bandon 3-8 Glanworth 1-11 (W)
September 3rd: IFC quarter-final, Bandon 4-15 Mitchelstown 1-6 (W)
September 24th: PIHC semi-final, Bandon 2-12 Mallow 2-11 (W)
October 1st: IFC semi-final, Bandon 2-13 Cill na Martra 2-8 (W)
October 9th: PIHC final, Bandon 1-20 Fermoy 1-14 (W)