An old-fashioned Cork senior championship clash in Clonakilty with Bandon holding out for a terrific win over Newcestown after a closely-fought battle.
This game stayed in doubt to the very end, with Bandon defending their own square as Newcestown hunted a dramatic leveller, but the men in white and yellow hung on for a deserved win.
Early on it looked like Newcestown might repeat their emphatic win in last year’s championship. They were getting plenty of ball in their half-forward line, where Carthach Keane and Cork’s Luke Meade impressed.
When Daniel Twomey put over a 65 on 14 minuted Newcestown were 0-5 to 0-1 ahead and looking good.
Credit Bandon, then, for upping their work rate and their aggression. Anchored by centre-back Donough Lucey they began to attack the Newcestown puck-outs and to contest the ball in midfield, and their determination paid dividends.
Ronan Crowley’s accuracy from frees was a hallmark of the game and he began to haul in the Newcestown lead, aided by a long-range effort by Lucey, before the game’s decisive score in the 22nd minute.
Bandon batted a Newcestown puck-out back with interest and Ronan Crowley gathered, careered through and stitched the ball into the corner. An Adam Murphy point immediately afterwards and it was 1-5 to
Newcestown hit back with not one but two sideline cuts from Jack Meade and another point by his brother, Luke, but another Ronan Crowley point gave Bandon a 1-6 to 0-8 half-time lead.
The second half saw the teams level on several occasions, but crucially for Bandon Newcestown never got their noses in front.
The game became a shoot-out between Denis Twomey of Newcestown and Ronan Crowley from Bandon, and both free-takers took their chances: every time Crowley nudged Bandon ahead Twomey responded, which meant the team that could somehow find a way to get some scores from play would probably get over the line.
In the end, that was Bandon: Jason Hickey pushed them one ahead, 1-13 to 0-15, and his teammates cut loose in the last ten minutes. Darren Crowley hit a clever point and Crowley added two more as Newcestown’s defence came under increased pressure.
Twomey made it a one-goal game with a free as the end approached, but Adam Murphy’s last point for Bandon gave them a vital four-point lead. Twomey’s late, late 65 gave Newcestown hope, but Bandon withstood their final attack for the win.
“We couldn’t get to grips with them in the second half,” said Newcestown manager Jim O’Sullivan after the game.
“They were hungrier, they picked off score after score, and that’s just the way the game goes.
Bandon boss Niall O’Halloran agreed with his counterpart: “Jim is a good hurling man, and if he says it straight out, we outfought them, then that’s the case.
“In the first half in front of the bench there was a phase of play, six or seven contacts, and we gave away a free, but it set a tone.
“I can’t comment on last year because I wasn’t here, but first rounds mean a lot to clubs like Bandon because we’re not up here long enough to say ‘we’re just going to peak in the summer’.
“Today was about bringing our best performance, and we’ve only had about 14 training sessions - it’s stop-start, it’s about dealing with the footballers and making sure we keep the players fresh, but you
could see we finished very strong at the end.”
Scorers for Bandon: R. Crowley (0-9 frees)(1-10); A. Murphy (0-3); M. Sugrue, D. Lucey, D. Crowley, J. Hickey (0-1 each).
Scorers for Newcestown: D. Twomey (0-6 frees, 0-2 65s)(0-8); L. Meade, J. Meade (3 sidelines) (0-3 each); C. Keane (0-2); D. Buckley (0-1).
BANDON: P. Prendergast, P. Crowley, P. Murphy, J. O’Donovan, J. Walsh, D. Lucey, J. Harrington, C. Dullea, C. O’Mahony, D. Crowley, J. Hickey, A. Murphy, M. Sugrue, M. Cahalane, R. Crowley (c).
Subs: E. O’Donovan for Harrington (36); P. Barry for Dullea (48).
NEWCESTOWN: K. Kelly, M. McSweeney, G. Murphy, J. Crowley, F. Keane, C. O’Neill, G. O’Driscoll, J. Meade, T. Twomey, C. Keane, D. Twomey, L. Meade, D. Buckley, T. Horgan, C. Dineen.
Subs: E. Kelly for Dineen (40); G. O’Donovan for O’Driscoll (45); S. Ryan for Buckley (55).
Referee: D. Kirwan (Eire Og).