BANDON have to take their game to the next level this Saturday if they want to progress to a first-ever Munster club junior football championship final, according to captain Pat Prendergast.
The West Cork and county champions take on Kerry kingpins Templenoe in Clonakilty this Saturday afternoon, at 2pm, with a place in the provincial final up for grabs, but Bandon will have to buck the recent trend in this competition that has seen Kerry clubs dominate.
Teams from the Kingdom have won 12 of the 14 Munster junior club titles played for, including the last seven in a row, but Prendergast and Bandon are ready to raise their game to break Kerry’s stranglehold of this championship.
‘We really need to play a lot better on Saturday than we did in the quarter-final against Golden-Kilfeacle,’ the Bandon goalkeeper said.
‘From what we hear Templenoe are an outstanding football team with some excellent players who have represented Kerry at various levels so we’re expecting a tough game. They are going into Division 1 of the football league in Kerry so we know we have to up our game to compete with them.
‘It’s the third tier in Kerry against the fourth tier in Cork so you really need to be on top of your game. Kerry clubs have done very well in this competition over the last few years but we’re not even thinking about what’s gone on in the past.
‘Any team that wins a county championship in Kerry has to be good so we need to raise our level to match them. We’ll go into this as underdogs but we’ll give it our best shot anyway,’ he added.
Prendergast admits there was a novel feel to the provincial quarter-final win (0-14 to 0-7) against the Tipp junior champions, Golden-Kilfeacle, played in Cashel, as it was a rare game outside the county.
It was a match where Mark Sugrue’s free-taking – he scored ten frees, maintaining his average of 0-10 per game in this championship run – helped Bandon over the line, but just as important was the Bandon defence that kept the Tipp side to only three points from play.
‘This year we are building on a good back six that are well able to go man to man, and are very solid and very strong. We are not conceding much and that’s a good platform for our team because we have the lads who are clinical in attack. We’ve a great combination there at the moment, plus the lads who come off the bench in every game to make a difference,’ Prendergast said.
‘In the first half against Golden-Kifeacle there was still a bit of a hangover from winning the county. We didn’t play as well as we can. In the second half we turned it around, played like we are used to playing and played more like we know we can. We tacked on a few scores, but we need to play better this Saturday.’
The Bandon goalkeeper, on behalf of his team, was presented with the Celtic Ross West Cork Sports Star of the Month award for October at the Celtic Ross Hotel last weekend, in recognition of their West Cork and Cork JAFC triumphs.
‘It was a fierce honour. I was delighted to accept it on behalf of the lads. It’s a great recognition for what we have achieved as a team this season,’ he said.
Hopefully, if everything goes according to plan this Saturday in Clonakilty, Bandon will move one step closer to adding another piece of silverware to their growing trophy cabinet.