Five years after winning the intermediate title, they rewrote the history books in Páirc Uí Rinn yesterday, seeing off Fermoy in the Premier IHC final. And the story could get a lot better for the west Cork town, as they go chasing the double next Sunday when the majority of these players return to the same venue to play Rockchapel in the IFC final.
Yesterday, they led from pillar to post and their first-half performance, in particular, was top-notch. They set out their stall early with Ronan Crowley an inspirational figure at corner-forward. His incredible tally of 1-10 proved decisive. Another to shine, alongside him at full-forward, was Michael Cahalane, whose return to hurling this year after a long lay-off due to illness was warmly welcomed.
Good teams, it is said, are built around a solid defence. And here, huge credit to the Bandon numbers 1-7. They limited the Fermoy attack to 1-1 from play. The other four points from play were shared between defender Brian O’Sullivan and midfielder Kieran Morrison. And experienced goalkeeper Pat Prendergast pulled off a crucial save midway through the second-half.
Suffice to say, the north Cork side — who had Tomás Clancy cleared to play after his red card was overturned — struggled to get into the contest. They battled gamely, and got to within two points but misfired too often. There was no doubt the better team won out on the day.
The Carbery men were up and running within 16 seconds — Cahalane registered the opening point. Razor sharp in attack, they had 1-9 on the board, against two points for Fermoy, by the 25th minute.
In spite of the task facing them, Fermoy settled and rattled off the next five unanswered white flags, bringing them to within six.
That remained the gap at half-time, Bandon 1-10 to 0-7 to the good – Ronan Crowley supplying 1-6 of that total. His goal at the end of the first quarter was smartly finished after Jason Hickey provided the delivery.
Fermoy got back into the action straight from the restart and Pádraig de Róiste’s goal looked like the tonic they needed. When Liam Coleman followed up with his third free, we had a two-point game. The question now was whether Bandon could hold their nerve.
In fact, they didn’t appear rattled at all. Five points on the trot was their response, from Adam Murphy, Ronan Crowley (two), Eoghan O’Donovan and Mark Sugrue. By the three-quarter mark, they were back in control 1-15 to 1-9. Fermoy had commissioned Martin Brennan into a more defensive role but effectively it robbed them of options nearer goal.
Meanwhile, Bandon’s defensive players James Walsh, Philip Crowley, Donough Lucey and James O’Donovan were oozing with confidence, allowing very few opportunities up front for Fermoy. When David Geary did break through, he was bravely kept out by Prendergast.
With 10 minutes remaining, Bandon were 1-16 to 1-10 ahead. However, and credit to Fermoy, three placed balls from Coleman left just a goal between them. But, once again, Bandon replied through sub Rory Fogarty and a huge Ronan Crowley free.
Fermoy tried gallantly but the most they could muster was a David Geary close-in free – four points now the difference and the 60 minutes elapsed. In stoppage time, Sugrue and Ronan Crowley made the result safe.
Ronan Crowley received a hand injury when scoring this last point, an incident which brought a straight red card for Padraig Clancy in the third minute of additional time. It got worse for Fermoy when Darragh O’Carroll followed, also with a straight red, for a foul on Eoghan Ryan, reducing them to 13 players.
R Crowley (1-10, 0-8 frees), M Sugrue and M Cahalane (0-3 each), E O’Donovan, D Crowley, A Murphy and R Fogarty (0-1 each).
L Coleman (0-8 frees), P de Róiste (1-0), K Morrison, D Geary (0-1 free) and B O’Sullivan (0-2 each)
P Prendergast; P Murphy, J Walsh, E Ryan; P Crowley, D Lucey, J O’Donovan; E O’Donovan, C Dullea; D Crowley (Capt), J Hickey, C O’Mahony; M Sugrue, M Cahalane, R Crowley.
A Murphy for C O’Mahony (half-time), R Fogarty for C Dullea (55), R Payne for R Crowley (63 inj).
C Quinn; E Clancy (Capt), R O’Callaghan, J Daly; B O’Sullivan, D O’Carroll, P Murphy; K Morrison, T Clancy; P de Róiste, J Hutchings, L Coleman; M Brennan, S Aherne, D Geary.
P Shanahan for J Hutchings (45), P Clancy for E Clancy (46).
Simon Stokes (Tullylease).