Bantry Blues and Bandon will have to do it all over again following an entertaining Cork PIFC quarter-final in Dunmanway yesterday afternoon.
A bumper crowd was treated to a hard-hitting West Cork derby in which Bantry looked set for victory heading into the final quarter. Yet the Blues were unable to capitalise on their five-point advantage as Bandon reeled off five unanswered scores.
Having failed to register a point for over 15 minutes, Ruairi Deane found Stephen Coughlan, who immediately split the posts to restore Bantry’s lead deep into injury time. To their credit, Bandon made one final surge, and Cian O’Mahony floated over a superb score to make it 1-13 apiece at the final whistle.
A draw was probably the right result at the end of a PIFC clash highlighted by excellent individual scores and plenty of overzealous tackles.
“There looked to be only one winner with quarter of an hour to go, so we would have to be happy coming away with a draw,” Bandon manager David O’Donovan admitted.
“A bit more composure and we might have even won it. They are the ifs and buts of championship football though. It’s all to play for once again next week.”
Tim Foley and Mark Sugrue exchanged scores during a bright opening period in which Bantry had the advantage of a strengthening wind.
Aidan O’Mahony edged the Lilywhites in front prior to a terrific move that delivered the first goal of the afternoon. Cork senior Ruairi Deane exchanged passes with Kevin Casey before firing past Pat Prendergast after just seven minutes.
Bandon’s Barry Collins replied with a point, but lost team-mate James Walsh to injury as a free-flowing opening quarter concluded with Kevin Casey and Mark Sugrue (free) swapping points.
A Ruairi Deane point made it 1-3 to 0-4, before corner-back Billy Foley ghosted in to chip a close-range effort over the bar.
That was Bandon’s cue to find an extra gear, as Barry Collins arrowed an unstoppable effort into the top corner, levelling it 1-4 each after 22 minutes. Mark Sugrue landed a free after a pair of Stephen Coughlan points, making it 1-6 to 1-5 in the Blues’ favour at half time.
Bantry outscored their opponents six points to two in a dominant third quarter during which players on both sides were fortunate not to receive a black card.
Tim Foley’s accuracy from frees saw the Blues push 1-12 to 1-7 ahead, but once again Bandon dug deep and began to make inroads.
Scores from Barry Collins, Mark Sugrue, and substitute Jonathan Mulcahy chipped away at Bantry’s lead before another marvellous Collins point levelled it up with less than a minute remaining.
A superb Ruairi Deane catch and pass then found Stephen O’Mahony, who fired over from close range to seemingly win the tie for his team. Cian O’Mahony had other ideas, and the Bandon defender’s equalising point followed a superb Donal Casey save to deny Barry Collins what would have been a match-winning goal.
“In fairness, Bandon are a very good team and probably had that bit of extra fitness on us having recently played (Nemo Rangers),” concluded Blues selector Tony O’Shea.
“This match just shows that there is nothing between the two teams, nothing at all. We are delighted and this game should really bring us on. The lads showed heart and came through.
“They are a good bunch of lads and we are very proud of them. We haven’t played since the end of April, so a game like this will definitely bring us on.”
Scorers for Bantry Blues: T Coughlan (0-5, 5 frees), R Deane (1-1), S Coughlan (0-4), S O’Neill (0-2), B Foley (0-1).
Scorers for Bandon: B Collins (1-4), M Sugrue (0-6, 3 frees), A O’Mahony, J Mulcahy and C O’Mahony (0-1 each).
D Casey (captain); E Minihane, R O’Mahony, B Foley; E O’Shea, J O’Leary, K Coakley; S O’Leary, R Deane; S O’Neill, S Coughlan, K Casey; S McSweeney, J Casey, T Foley.
Subs: D Daly for K Casey (ht), J Downey for J Casey (57).
P Prendergast; B Crowley, J O’Donovan, P Crowley; R O’Driscoll, D Crowley, C O’Mahony; P Murphy (captain), J Walsh; E O’Donovan, A Johnson, A O’Mahony; R Crowley, B Collins, M Sugrue.
Subs: D Crowley for J Walsh (7, inj), M Cahalane for R Crowley (ht), R Long for A O’Mahony (43), J Mulcahy for A Johnson (43).
Referee: Pat O’Leary (Kilmurry).