BANDON put on a five star performance to demolish Fr O’Neill’s in a one-sided county IHC final at Páirc Uí Chaoimh and in the process bury the ghosts of 2007.
Four years ago they fell to O’Neill’s in the final to a last-minute point; lost the final again the next year to Carrigaline, but on this occasion there were no mistakes as the men from the West gave a scintillating display to claim their third title in the grade.
Apart from the opening six minutes, when they fell two points behind, there was never any doubt about the outcome after Jason McCarthy scored the first of his two goals 20 seconds into the second half, which put his side nine points clear.
While it was essentially a team effort, Bandon can be especially thankful to their defence. To a man they never gave the much vaunted O’Neill’s attack a look in, and the fact that Eoin Conway failed to register a score for the entire 62 minutes, speaks volumes for his marker, James O’Donovan.
O’Donovan was never more than inches away from his man through the contest.
Joe Burke was a colossus at corner back while it is easy to understand why centre-back Donagh Lucey took the man of the match award. He was majestic all through driving the O’Neill’s forwards back time and time again.
Up front Bandon had superb forwards in Ronan Crowley, James McCarthy, who helped himself to the two goals, Jason Hickey and Mark Sugrue.
On a day like this, it’s easy to loose sight of the contribution that the local St Brogan’s College made to the victory. In total, 12 of the 15 that started attended the local hurling nursery where the honed their skills.
Desperate to avoid a third defeat in four years, Bandon took the game to O’Neill’s from the off but faulty finishing cost them early scores.
In contrast Fr O’Neill’s, with limited possession, managed two early points before the West Cork side finally found their rhythm.
With the threat of Eoin Conway snuffed out, Bandon went on a scoring spree which yielded eight points without reply, half of them from the stick of Ronan Crowley, and they were well worth their half-time lead of 0-9 to 0-3.
O’Neills’ chances of victory completely evaporated 20 seconds into the second half when Bandon grabbed their opening goal.
A superb long clearance by Donagh Lucey was plucked out of the air by Jason McCarthy and he made no mistake from close range.
And it got worse for the east Cork side seconds later when Jason Hickey added a point. O’Neill’s were in danger of being completely overrun and a magnificent save by keeper Paul Colbert denied them a second goal when he managed to deflect Ronan Crowley’s rasping up over the crossbar.
To their credit, O’Neill’s did threaten a recovery with four unanswered points, but with Conway unable to make any impression, their attack lacked any real penetration and when Jason McCarthy beat the O’Neill’s keeper in a race for possession before slipping the ball to the net, there was only going to be one winner.
Scorers for Bandon: J McCarthy 2-0, R McCarthy 0-6 (2fs, 1 65), J Hickey 0-3, D Crowley, M Sugrue 0-2 each, P Payne 0-1.
Scorers for Fr O’Neills: L Swayne, B Murphy 0-2 each, N Griffin, G O’Leary, E McCarthy 0-1 each.
BANDON: J McSweeney; P Crowley, J Burke, J O’Donovan; E O’Donovan, D Lucey, K Hurley; C Dullea, D Crowley; R Crowley, M Sugrue, J Hickey; R Payne, N O’Rourke, J McCarthy.
Subs: A Johnson for O’Rourke (45), D O’Donoghue for Payne (50), J Walsh for Hurley (55).
FR O’NEILLS: P Colbert; J Barry, J O’Mahony, JT Gould; J O’Driscoll, P Butler, E MacCarthaigh; N Griffin, G O’Leary; B Murphy, Q Higgins, W Joyce; R Cullinane, E Conway, L Swayne.
Subs: K Wall for Cullinane (20), L O’Driscoll for O’Driscoll (ht), J Holland for Higgins (ht), R O’Neill for J Barry (35), K Hegarty for Wall (45).
Referee: D Kirwan (Éire Óg)
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