IT will be a special occasion in Clonakilty on Saturday, September 1st as Bandon and Newcestown meet in round 3 of the county SHC.
Not since Bandon met the Carbery divisional side in May 1977 – winning by 3-15 to 0-10 – has there been an all-West Cork tie in the senior hurling championship but, while it is a game sure to draw interest from the competing clubs and neutrals, those involved must make sure to focus on the task at hand.
‘I was following the draw on Twitter,’ says Newcestown manager Jim O’Sullivan, ‘and the big thing was that, the previous day we had lost to Clonakilty in the football after extra time. ‘The boys were a bit down after that but there’s nothing like a local derby to help you to re-focus and get back training.
‘At the same time, the thing about it is that you can’t think too much about who you’re playing.
‘You set goals at the start of the year and you either achieve them or you fail. This is just a round 3 game so it doesn’t matter who you’re playing.
‘We want to move on in the championship and so do Bandon, I’m sure they won’t be focusing too much on us either.
‘They beat us in the league at the end of February but the conditions were poor that day and the hurling was poor. Any form there is will go out the window and whoever handles it best on the day will prevail.’
O’Sullivan was a member of the Newcestown team which beat Bandon in the Carbery JAHC final in 1991, the last time the clubs’ first teams met in the championship. Newcestown graduated to intermediate the following year, with Bandon winning the junior in 1999 and the clubs won the premier intermediate in successive years, 2015 and 2016 respectively.
‘There’s no doubt that drove us on in 2016,’ says Bandon chairman Colman O’Mahony.
‘It was a case of ‘now or never’ for us then and, having seen what Newcestown were after achieving, that motivated us.
‘It’s absolutely brilliant to have two West Cork teams in the senior hurling championship. One will be moving on and the other will be out, but at least both are safe for another year.’
While senior West Cork derbies are commonplace in football, having one in the small ball is a novelty.
‘When we played Carbery that time at senior, the game was in Ballineen and there was huge interest in it,’ O’Mahony says. ‘There’ll be a huge crowd in Clon to see this game. Any West Cork derby has its interest, this time it’s hurling rather than football and that will really add it. The bottom line though is that it’s just another game to be won.’