Munster Junior Cup Semi Final.
Bandon 03 Young Munster 19.
Bandon: Olan Crowley; Christian Mulcahy; Jerry Crowley; Ray Naea; Gearoid Crowley; Chris Laidler; Richard Walsh; Riobard Wilmot; Mike Murphy; Aidan Slattery; JP Lucey; Enda Phelan; Des Prendergast; Tom Ferguson (c); Michael Beecher.
Subs: Scott Kingston; Colin Jackson; Philip Murphy; Kevin Lucey; Gearoid O’Leary.
Bandon’s season came to an end in frustrating fashion at Tom Clifford Park, Limerick last Sunday. On a firm, dry pitch, there was a slight cross breeze that favoured Munsters in the first half. The massive home pack were very well organised and their superiority in the set piece made it an uphill struggle for most of the afternoon for the visitors. It was Bandon however who had the first scoring opportunity when they earned a penalty after a brilliant chase tackle by Michael Beecher, who then sprung to his feet and forced the penalty. The shot at goal was narrowly wide however. On thirty minutes Young Munster took the lead through penalty of their own after Bandon collapsed a maul. The away side had their moments, with breaks from Chris Laidler and Jerry Crowley standing out but possession was in short supply and on 34 minutes, they had the chance to equalise but Laidler (deputising for Richard Walsh who had a thigh strain, as goalkicker) was again just off target. Just before the break Bandon had a forward sin binned for a high tackle but Young Munster failed to convert their penalty opportunity to leave it 03-00 at the break.
Early in the second half, Bandon’s problems were compounded, when from a lost lineout ten metres from their own line, Young Munster picked and drove a couple of times to score a try. The conversion was wide but Bandon were now in the unenviable position of needing to score twice. Their task was made tougher again when another penalty saw them go eleven behind on 46 minutes. Nine minutes later, the away defence was breached again, when a couple of missed tackles saw Young Munster within metres of the Bandon line. From there, it was almost inevitable that their gargantuan pack was going to trundle over the line for a second try. 16-00 with twenty five to go and it looked bleak for Bandon. However some good, clean rucking and quick hands in the backs saw Olan Crowley go over for a very well worked try. Laidler converted superbly from the corner to give Bandon a glimmer of hope. After that there was one or two opportunities where Bandon could possibly have scored to make in an interesting finish to the game. Crucial turnovers however saw Young Munster able to work their way downfield and another penalty from a scrum offence was duly slotted to put the result beyond doubt at 19-07.
While a disappointing conclusion to the season, Bandon can look back on their first year back in the top flight of junior rugby with a lot of pride. Getting to the semi final stage of the junior cup for the first time in 17 years and finishing second in the Munster Junior League are fantastic achievements for what is an extremely young side and the basis for a push for the title in 2017.
Munster Junior Cup Semi Final.