French magic defies Bandon

PBC Cork 12 Bandon Grammar School 3: Underdogs Bandon Grammar School underlined the rise of West Cork rugby with a gallant effort in defeat in a tense Clayton Hotels Munster Schools Senior Cup semi-final clash at Musgrave Park.

French magic defies Bandon

Presentation Brothers, Cork — aristocrats of this competition — finally wore them down and booked a final place against either Ardscoil Rís or Glenstal Abbey, though the nine-point winning margin didn’t accurately reflect how competitive this game was.

The weather didn’t make it easy for Pres, fancied to produce an expansive game-plan, but injury blows to two of the Bandon players seriously dented their hopes of pulling off a surprise.

Yet, despite losing classy full-back and goal kicker Seán Hudson and centre Ethan Greene in the space of three minutes, Bandon stuck to the task and kept Pres guessing.

Having established a 3-0 first-half lead with a penalty from Hudson, they battled to keep the game tight and make things thoroughly uncomfortable for a school that is going for a 29th title.

Pres finally made the scoring breakthrough with 53 minutes on the clock, though injuries meant the players had been on the field for almost 70.

It was a marvellous piece of enterprise from centre Seán French, who dinked over two defenders before diving over a would-be tackler to put Pres noses in front.

That should have settled the favourites, but they had to survive a late penalty scare when Evan Palmer sent a Bandon effort wide and Pres made heavy weather out of making their way out of their own territory.

And it took a try 16 minutes into injury-time by skipper Jack O’Sullivan, converted by French, to give them breathing space.

In an intriguing opening half, Bandon stormed into an early lead courtesy of a penalty goal after three minutes from Hudson and an epic battle began, with both packs fiercely contesting possession in the set-pieces and on the ground.

However, Bandon’s plans began to unravel in the opening minutes of the second half, with Hudson forced off to be replaced by Soren Minihane and Harry Hall having to replace Greene.

After a long delay, they battled bravely on, but as they seemed to run out of steam, Presentation’s quality told.

“We had no doubt it was going to be hard, but Bandon made it even harder,” reflected Pres games master Peter Scott.

“I suppose you would have to look at the result and say a 12-3 win wasn’t a fair reflection but it was a win and that’s what we needed. We’re into the final and I have to say we’re happy to be there after that.”

Disappointed Bandon head coach Denis Collins rued his side’s injury misfortune: “We came that close, but we lost our kickers and two key players, that disrupted things from our point of view because I felt we had them rattled at that stage. But the break probably allowed them to recompose themselves and good sides do that. We can only reflect on what I felt was a very good performance and try to build on that for the future.”

PBC:

J Wren, P Buckley, S French, J Broderick, T Fitzgerald, P Sylvester, G Bradley, C Burke, B Scannell, B O’Connor, A McAuliffe, M McCarthy, C Fitzgerald, D Hyland, J O’Sullivan (captain).

Replacements:

L Bruce for Bradley (65), E Burns for McAuliffe (75)

BANDON GRAMMAR:

S Hudson, V Lovell, B Gur, E Greene, J Donnelly, E Palmer, J Crowley, J French, T Coomey, A Deane, C Scully, J Bradfield, B Hayes, C Deane (captain), R Stokes.

Replacements:

S Minihane for Hudson (46, injured), H Hall for E Greene (47, injured), N Beamish for Hayes (69), M Archer for Bradfield (72).

Referee:

R O’Sullivan (M.A.R)

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