Brilliant Bandon advance to final again

THEY’RE back and meaning business. After the heartbreak of last year’s final defeat by Fr O’Neill’s, Bandon are back in the Evening Echo Cork Co IHC final and a tilt with Carrigaline after a rousing semi-final victory over great rivals Valley Rovers at Páirc Uí Chaoimh yesterday.

This is the second year Bandon have put one over on their neighbours and some of their hurling yesterday was top class, with their lethal strike force of Darren Crowley and Darren O’Donoghue splitting 14 point between them. And when they had to defend, when Rovers came at them in the final quarter, they were strong and composed and deserved their victory.

Rovers needed Eamonn Collins to be on his game early and he didn’t disappoint, firing over two sublime points — one a peach of a sideline cut. But Bandon also had an ace in Crowley, who scored all four points as they led 0-4 to 0-3 after the opening quarter.

Bandon, wind assisted, were well clued in. Crowley and O’Donoghue continued to punish Rovers up front though Rovers wing back Jeremy Hurley did score his second superb point from the right wing to keep his side in touch.

Kevin Canty was getting nothing from James O’Donovan and although Collins continued to impress for Rovers, they were hit hard in the 25th minute when Darren Ryan’s speculative delivery was hammered to the net by Eoin O’Donovan.

And Bandon weren’t finished yet as points from O’Donoghue, Crowley — his sixth — and Alan Johnson gave them a commanding 1-10 to 0-6 interval lead. A brace of points from Collins — one another sweet sideline cut — after the break kept Rovers in touch and they were back in the hunt on 39 minutes as Canty got on the end of a huge delivery by Chris O’Donovan and fired a fine goal to leave just four points between the sides.

In fairness to Bandon they kept their composure well and points from Donagh Lucey and two cracking O’Donoghue scores had them 1-15 to 1-9 clear entering the final quarter.

Rovers pumped everything at Bandon in the last 15 minutes. Twice they were denied goals by some super defending but, in the 49th minute, substitute Noel O’Donovan was upended and Collins fired home a super penalty to give them life again. They battled bravely as points from Kevin White and John Burke again brought the deficit down to just three points and time running out. But substitute Ronan Crowley had the last say for Bandon, a sweet insurance point and a place in the final was assured.

Scorers for Bandon: D. Crowley (0-4 frees) and D. O’Donoghue 0-7 each, E. O’Donovan 1-0, A. Johnson, D. Lucey, J. O’Donovan, R. Crowley 0-1 each.

Valley Rovers: E. Collins 1-5 (1-0 pen, 0-2 sidelines, 0-1 ‘65, 0-1 free), K. Canty 1-0, J. Hurley 0-2, S. O’Sullivan, E. Manning, K. White, J. Burke 0-1 each.

BANDON: J. Crowley; B. Hurley, J. Burke, J. O’Donovan; K. Hurley, T. Bambury, D. Ryan; D. Lucey, N. O’Rourke; E. O’Donovan, A. Johnson, J. Hickey; D. Crowley, D. Burke, D. O’Donoghue.

Subs: C. Dullea for O’Rourke (56m), R. Crowley for O’Donoghue (60m).

VALLEY ROVERS: J. Ryan; R. O’Donovan, C. O’Riordan, S. Manning; J. Hurley, C. O’Donovan, D. Lynch; E. Collins, S. O’Sullivan; J. Burke, T. Burke, F. Coughlan; J. Walsh, K. Canty, K. White.

Subs: E. Manning for Coughlan (24m), R. Lehane for S. Manning (ht), N. O’Donovan for Walsh (46m), J. Crowley for O’Riordan (48m).

Referee: C. McAllister (Aghada).

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