AT Bandon training on Tuesday night, two of the new county champions’ elder statesmen spoke to the rest of the squad about the significance of the upcoming Munster club junior football championship.
This Saturday, in Leahy Park in Cashel, Cork junior champions Bandon venture into the great unknown when they take on Tipperary side, Golden/Kilfeacle, in a quarter-final of the provincial club championship.
This is a great opportunity for the West Cork team to add to the divisional and county titles that Colm Aherne’s side have bagged already this season, and captain Pat Prendergast and Alan Johnson spoke to their teammates about the chance this team now has to make an impression in Munster.
Opportunities like this don’t come around too often, and Bandon need to be ready to make the most of it.
‘At training Alan and Pat spoke about the huge opportunity we now have to make headway in Munster,’ manager Colm Aherne said.
‘They were part of the last Bandon team to play in Munster – the hurlers back in 1999 – and the two lads spoke of how that team left themselves down, that there was too much celebrating after the county win and that the team didn’t do themselves justice in Munster afterwards.
‘Hopefully, Alan’s and Pat’s experience will rub onto the younger fellas because who knows when the club will get the chance to play in Munster and represent the county. You don’t get these opportunities too often so we want to make the most out of it.’
After winning the county final against Iveleary, and gaining promotion to intermediate football in 2016, Aherne admits that the number one target has been reached, so can the players raise themselves to go again?
‘There is a worry that after winning the county title, are fellas happy with their lot? Will they be able to switch it on again for the Munster series? Are the players prepared to go again? We won’t know the real answer until Saturday,’ Aherne said.
Golden/Kilfeacle won the Tipperary county JAFC title for the first time since 1979 after their 2-8 to 1-6 win against Emly in the county final. Josh Keane was key to the win that day and was prominent throughout, while Seanie O’Halloran scored a late goal, as Golden/Kilfeacle finished strongly.
‘We are trying to find out as much as we possibly can about them. What we do know is that the standard of football in Tipperary has improved a lot over the last few years, especially at underage level. We know that any team that wins their county title has to be good so we are treating them with all the respect that they deserve,’ Aherne said.
Bandon go into this game in good form after that impressive win against Iveleary, especially from their full-forward line of Mark Sugrue, Barry Collins and Darren Crowley, who scored the 3-11 between them.
‘The three lads have played together all year. We haven’t changed the full-forward line all year and when you have guys playing together in the same line they build up an understanding with each other. The three of them are well able to score,’ Aherne said.
This was a journey that started in Castletownkenneigh in late April with a West Cork JAFC round one win (1-10 to 1-9) against St Colum’s, and since then the same fate has befallen Mathúnas, Gabriels, Castlehaven, Kilmacabea, Delaney, Knocknagree and Iveleary, as this Bandon juggernaut has built up a formidable head of steam.
In these eight games, Bandon have scored 11-104, an average of over 0-17 per game, and, crucially, Aherne’s side has scored goals in every championship game in this run, including three against Iveleary when it mattered the most.