7 Dec, 18:36
Heavy defeat for Dolphin in Ulster Bank League Division 1A as Cork Constitution and Young Munster win but Garryowen are still searching for their first win of the campaign.
Leonard Allen & Cormac Liddy
The pitch was in excellent condition and while the rain held off for the entire match there was a very strong wind which Bandon played into in the first half. Bandon were defending for most of the opening quarter and found themselves 3-0 after conceding a penalty. Slowly but surely they worked their way into the game and a break by Ieuen Walters brought them into their opposition half. After a series of rucks the ball was fed back to Jack Murphy at out half who slotted a drop kick from close range to level the score. Bandon were starting to display excellent ball retention into the wind.
However they got a stark reminder that any wayward kicking would be heavily punished when the dangerous Buccaneers full back picked up a loose ball and proceeded to run the ball back a full fifty metres before finally being hauled down. Buccaneers had the opportunity to once again take the lead but a relatively straightforward penalty opportunity was missed. For the rest of the half Bandon, as they have been throughout this campaign, were extremely patient in possession. The lineout was solid with Conor Barry gathering most of the possession from Kevin Hurley’s throws, as was the scrum which gave No. 8 Michael Beechor the platform to launch several Bandon attacks. If there was one crucial difference between the sides it was that Bandon were emerging from the opposition ’22 with scores on the board. From a ruck under the posts the referee had his hand out for a penalty advantage and Murphy cleverly decided to take the drop kick for a three point lead. With the aid of the wind to come in the second half this would have been an excellent position to be in but on the stroke of half time Jack Murphy followed up his own kick to force a double block down on the Buccanneers full back and when the ball spilled into the in goal area, inside centre Gearoid O’Leary was there to pounce for a try in the corer to leave it 11-03 at the break.
Despite having the strong wind in their favour, a lot of the second half was played around the middle of the field. The positioning of the Buccaneers back three was solid and they covered the space well which restricted Bandon’s kicking options. The Buccaneers backline in general showed some quite slick handling at times and breached the Bandon line on more than one occasion but the Bandon scramble defence was functioning well and Buccaneers were not working as hard in attack as Bandon were in defence which led to a number of vital turnovers. There were two crucial plays in particular when Buccaneers laid siege to the Bandon line and emerged with nothing. The second of these, down in right hand corner ended up with a Richard Walsh box kick bouncing into touch some forty metres away and this was the moment where Buccaneers probably felt this was not going to be their day. Ill discipline started to creep into their game and a penalty for back chat to the referee was slotted by Walsh to make it 14-03. Bandon were also making a number of breaks in open play with Kerry Desmond and Ieuen Walters prominent in this regard. At this stage it was hard to see Buccaneers scoring twice against this Bandon side but for good measure Murphy added a third drop kick, an astonishing achievement considering before this game he had never landed a single one, to put the game out of reach at 17-03. Bandon played out game quite cleverly in the last few minutes, putting the ball in the touch when required and just playing out the clock. The final whistle saw great scenes of joy amongst the Bandon supporters (who by far outnumbered the Buccaneers support) and players in what was another very proud day for all associated with the Club.
Bandon will be under no illusions about the task before them now as they travel to Naas this Saturday to take on Leinster side Navan who defeated Larne (Ulster) 27-00 in the other semi final. Navan incidentally will also be contesting the U17 final on the same day. The Bandon v Navan game will be kicking off at 3pm. Check out www.facebook.com/bandon.rfc for details regarding travel for supporters.
Bandon: David Healy; Christian Mulcahy; Kerry Desmond; Gearoid O’Leary; Mighty Okafor; Jack Murphy (c); Richard Walsh; Ieuen Walters; Kevin Hurley; Colin Jackson; Enda Phelan; Gerry Robinsion; Conor Barry; Darragh Coffey; Michael Beechor.
Subs: Kieran O’Driscoll; Luke Holland; Lorcan O’Donnell; Ben Hunter; Robert O’Sullivan; Oisin Healy; Brian Crowley; Sam O’Dwyer.