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Club Focus: Bandon RFC

30th January 2015 By Munster Rugby

Club Focus: Bandon RFC

Founded in 1882, Cork club Bandon RFC is one of the oldest teams in Munster with the J1 side currently topping Division Two of the Munster Junior league.

Founded in 1882, Cork club Bandon RFC is one of the oldest teams in Munster with the J1 side currently topping Division Two of the Munster Junior league.

Along with the title-chasing men's team, the Bandon women’s side are an integral part of the club. Formed seven years ago, they compete in Division One of the Munster Women’s League with new players always welcome.

The mini and underage section of the West Cork club is also flourishing – they now cater for 350 players from U-7s up to U-18s and were presented with the Youth Section of the Year accolade at the 2013 Munster Rugby awards. Gary McCormick (below, accepting the Youth Section of the Year award) is in his seventh year as Youth officer at Bandon RFC and has seen the playing numbers almost treble in that time.""

“Eight years ago we had around 120 players and we’ve grown that to 350,” said McCormick. “We have about 70 coaches involved on Saturday mornings with the youths and minis and that’s growing too. We actually had one coach saying to us the other day that he really enjoys coming up on a Saturday morning and it relieves all the stress from the working week! We have a great community up at the club.

“For a number of years we’ve actually put a Youth development Officer into the local primary schools to try and encourage players to come up and give it a go. That has generated numbers for us and it’s well known around the town that the club is very well run at underage level. The parents like that, and they like to know that whenever they drop their kids up they are being looked after in our great facilities.

“Our greatest success at underage level came two years ago when our U-19s became All-Ireland champions,” he added.

Dan Murphy, a member of the club since the early 1980s, is on the coaching panel for the current men’s team and was also a coach for that U-19 side. “We were lucky enough to get a great bunch of young fellas that we coached up through the age groups and subsequently went on to win the U-19 All-Ireland in 2013,” said Murphy.

“We’re very lucky because that bunch of young fellas have shown a fierce loyalty to the club. The club have been in Division Two for five or six years and a core group of players have put in a lot of hard work trying to keep the club in Division Two. The influx of the young fellas last year probably turned the tide slightly and lifted the club a small bit. But the club wouldn’t be where it is without the input of the guys over the past four or five years as well. It’s great to have the younger guys involved but the older lads who have stuck with it that are a fundamental part of the team,” he added.

The club boast superb facilities at their Old Chapel ground and Murphy was full of praise for the visionaries who bought the land and relocated the club in 1982, their 99 year anniversary.""

“Over the years we’ve had guys with tremendous vision involved,” Murphy enthused. “The club relocated to Old Chapel from Macroom Road in 1982 and it’s thanks to guys like Niall O’Driscoll, Joe McLoughlin, Barry O’Farrell, John O’Driscoll and Tony Neville. They would have been very strong members who had the foresight to buy land in Old Chapel and we’re blessed now with four full size pitches, an all-weather surface and we put in match-ready lights last year. We played a couple of games under lights and they’re great occasions for the club. We were lucky enough to have a Munster ‘A’ (above) game there last year which was a tremendous occasion,” he added.

With the facilities in place and the playing numbers increasing, it seems only a matter of time before the trophy cabinet at Bandon welcomes some new additions.

They face a very tough run-in in Division Two of the Munster Junior League however, with second-placed Clanwilliam just a point behind, although Bandon do have a game in hand.
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“We’ve been lucky the way the fixtures have fallen and we’re unbeaten through the year thank God,” said Murphy.

“We have three games left in the league. We have to go to Castleisland which is always a very, very tough place to get a result, we have Clanwilliam at home who are second in the table and we have to go to Killarney so we expect three very tough matches before the season is over.

“The Junior team are also in the Munster Challenge Shield final on February 15, it’s been a long time since the club won a Munster competition at adult level so hopefully we can remedy that this year.”

So things are going well for the J1s but having coached at underage himself, Murphy is quick to point out the importance of the minis and youths.

“The future of the club is with the underage section,” he said. “We have 350 kids there every Saturday morning and very dedicated coaches. Hopefully they’ll stick with the game and play with the club or play elsewhere. Of course none of this would be possible without the very good underage committee running it in the background and there’s a great committee in the club who do tremendous fundraising work,” he added.

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