In the end it was a bridge too far for Bandon Grammar School, but they still made advancing to another Clayton Hotels Munster Schools Junior Cup final a difficult process for specialists Christian Brothers College Cork at Temple Hill yesterday.
The holders had most of the territory and created the majority of scoring chances too, but they were limited by a dogged Bandon side that was both organised in defence and, when the occasional opportunity arose, quite inventive in what they tried to achieve.
Nevertheless, this was a deserved triumph for the holders, who go through to the decider against St Munchin’s courtesy of three second-half tries.
Once they got past the first 10 minutes of the second half, there was never any real doubt about the outcome.
Christians head coach Conor Quaid gave credit where it was due. “We always reckoned this wouldn’t be an easy challenge; we watched Bandon play St Munchin’s in the first round and they did very well that day against a very high-quality side.
“We’re delighted to get the win, we made too many handling errors, particularly in the first half; we took wrong options and played into their hands with all the mistakes we made.
“We had to address it at half-time and in fairness to our guys they took on board what we had said to them, they played in the right areas afterwards, they were a bit more measured.
“We have to accept that it was a semi-final too, there was a big prize for the winners, they were nervous, they’re under-16s after all, but we have to be happy with the outcome and the performance eventually, the performance in the second half of the second half particularly.”
This was a tough, robust contest for the entirety of the opening half, even if Christians dominated.
The holders made too many handling errors for their own good, some unforced and others forced upon them by a dogged Bandon defence.
Bandon, in fact, had a couple of promising moments themselves and showed some impressive composure in attacking positions.
George Coomber had the first chance for Christians when he failed with a lengthy penalty kick in the 20th minute and Christians then failed to take advantage of extensive pressure on the Bandon line in first-half injury time.
The best opportunity fell to impressive number eight Ronan O’Sullivan but somehow a Bandon defender got under him to prevent a touchdown.
The nerves settled once Ben McGarry was sent in for a corner flag try 10 minutes into the second half and Coomber made the result secure when he got the second six minutes later.
Substitute Jason Ahern rounded off a much-improved second-half display when he grabbed the third five minutes from the end.
G Coomber; J McGrath, D Burke, P O’Hara, B McGarry; A O’Mahony, E Birchall; A McDonald, L McAuliffe (captain), C Hanlon; M Ludgate, J Morrison; P McBarron, D O’Connor, R O’Sullivan.
L Buckley, W Waterman, G Kennelly, J Ahern, K Roche, J Kennefick, T McCarthy, D McPolin, M Corcoran, T Maher.
D Collis; A Blair, C Bateman, L McCarthy, K Buttimer; L Archer, J Kevane; M Kingston, H Golden, J Applebe; J Walsh, J Coughlan; T Blennerhassett, N Greene (captain), J O’Donovan.
A Aherne, I Tejera, C Walton, A Guinevan, T Good, D Harte, M Barthelemy, C Obialor, N Burke, D Hall.
Referee. C Harrington (M.A.R)
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