Bandon Grammar 7 - St Munchin’s College 5: Ever-improving Bandon Grammar School laid down another marker with a sensational victory over unlucky St Munchin’s in yesterday’s thrilling Clayton Hotels Munster Schools Senior Cup first round tie at Bandon RFC.
Having reached a huge milestone with an appearance in the semi-final of the competition last year, little was expected of this very young Bandon side, most of whom are in the first year of the senior cycle.
But they certainly confounded the sceptics with a display of true grit, passion and defensive skill as they survived ten minutes of pressure at the end of each half to win through to the quarter-finals without having to take the circuitous route.
Head coach Denis Collins had every reason to be pleased as he reflected on a quite heroic performance from his young charges. “It was a remarkable defensive display, huge discipline to defend the way they did and not to even hint at giving away a penalty. I am really thrilled for the lads because they have put in a huge amount of work to get to where they are; there are only five of those players in sixth year. All the other lads are young, inexperienced, but they showed a great maturity out there to survive that. We’ll go from here and see where we go, but today proved that we’re not going to be afraid going forward.”
Lest there be any confusion, this was not all one-way traffic. Bandon had plenty of the play, plenty of territory and had more than one potential scoring chance on top of the try they got.
But for sheer bravery, they must be lauded because St Munchin’s, when they applied the pressure, applied it with a huge degree of intensity. Apart, perhaps, for spurning a drop-goal attempt, they did nothing wrong as they set about overhauling the Bandon lead in those final minutes. They just ran into a brick wall.
Bandon led 7-0 at the break but had to survive five minutes of intense pressure exerted by the visitors just before the end of the half.
St Munchin’s threw everything into that forward orientated assault and finally had to yield without the score when they were penalised for a double movement.
As the scoreline suggests, there was little between the sides. Up to and after Bandon’s only score, this was very much a game of missed opportunities.
Handling errors in the bitterly cold conditions restricted quality backline movement and both sides had to watch as Jack Crowley for Bandon and Jass Pendejit for St Munchin’s narrowly missed penalty opportunities.
But Bandon centre Victor Lovell made no mistake when a gap presented itself in the 31st minute. He had threatened on a couple of occasions earlier in the match only to be hauled down just when it seemed as if he might get away.
It was third time lucky when put into space by out-half Rowan Palmer and he took his chance brilliantly, skipping past one attempted tackle and nobody could stop him once he built up speed. He made it look easy as he darted in for his try under the posts and Crowley converted for that 7-0 lead.
St Munchin’s scored their unconverted try early in the second half through Evan Sheehan and late in the half they piled on the pressure only to be met with fierce and successful resistance from determined Bandon.
S Minihane; S Madden, V Lovell, B Matthews, H Hall; R Palmer, J Crowley; C Heaney, A O’Connor, A Deane (captain); N Bakker, J Brady; M Archer, J Beamish, N Beamish.
D Ogden, T Bryant, E Guinevan, P Jackson, T Beare, C Roberts, B Ahern, J Moore.
Z Moloney; C Quilter, L Kelly, J Pendejit, T O’Halloran; G Quilligan, E Maher (captain); C Finn, K Hyland, E Sheehan; A Casey, M Crowe, C Nesbitt, J Murphy, S Kelly.
H Wood-Hennessy, E Kelly, S Ryan, A Deegan, J Kingston, A Tierney, J Ryan, K Lagod.
Referee: F Murphy (MAR)
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