BUCCS MAINTAIN WINNING WAYS

RUGBY with MICHAEL SILKE

BRUFF  18                  BUCCANEERS  26
A.Laffan (try), P.Malone (try) & E.Cahill (2 pens & con).    J.O’Brien (2 tries), C.Boland (try) & A.Kennedy (3 pens & con)   

It their historic first ever All Ireland League Division 1B home game for Bruff at Kilballyowen Park in the Golden Vale heartland, the Limerick club got off to a dream start when their pack drove Buccaneers back yards for a pushover try by Alfie Laffan after just three minutes. But Buccaneers spoiled the celebrations, quickly getting in for a try of their own before going on to win 26-18 after a hard fought encounter on a particularly mild afternoon when a blustery breeze ruined the contest as a spectacle.

Buccs had four changes from last week’s memorable win over Lansdowne and this particularly affected the backline with Aidan Wynne and Shane Monahan away in Italy with Connacht and David Connellan ruled out through injury. Alex Hayman slotted in to his more comfortable role in the centre, John O’Brien returned on the right wing and Callum Boland got a first AIL start at fullback. Adam Kennedy resumed at scrumhalf. There was just one change in the pack where Stephen Burke was a hugely surprising omission from the squad with Monivea’s Eoin Rooney making his first start at wing forward. 

The midlanders dictated for lengthy spells but lacked a consistently clinical edge and really Buccs should have won much more comfortably. They responded promptly to Bruff’s opening salvo, the exciting O’Brien outflanking the cover for a well-taken try after just 7 minutes and Kennedy kicked a fine conversion. Brian Cahill (one of three brothers in the home backline) restored Bruff’s advantage with a penalty at the end of the opening quarter but Buccaneers regained their grip on the proceedings and Martin Staunton came very close for the second week in succession to grounding for a try but two further Kennedy penalties from three placekicks had the midlanders 13-8 ahead at halftime.

He added another moments after the restart and then, as Buccs upped the tempo noticeably, they stretched Bruff first to the left and then back to the right flank to send O’Brien steaming in for his and Buccs second try and a healthy 21-8 lead after 46 minutes. Buccs were totally dominant at that stage and looked set to build on from there for a comfortable win, but they allowed their concentration and urgency to drop as Bruff hung on for dear life.

On 53 minutes, a touch judge flagged and referee Mark Patton reversed what would have been a relieving Buccs penalty into a kickable placekick which Brian Cahill gratefully accepted for the Munster side. This roused the homesters while Buccaneers lost their composure and Conor Higgins was sin-binned as Buccs began to infringe too often. Although they survived their numerical deficiency without conceding a score, they had made life needlessly difficult for themselves and granted Bruff a foothold in the game.

Spurred on by their vociferous supporters, Bruff were now making inroads into the visitors’ territory and Kolo Kiripati and Dylan Rodgers were called on to put in thumping tackles to deny the hosts who also spoiled one clearcut opportunity with a dreadful final pass to winger Frank Daly. But their pressure was eventually rewarded when No.8 Peter Malone touched down for a 69th minute try and Brian Cahill’s conversion reduced the margin to 21-18 and set up a nail-biting finish. However, Buccs regained their composure and momentum to grab a third try on 77 minutes and it was a beauty, following the best move of the day from the Pirates with the prodigious Boland storming in for a try wide on the left. Although Kennedy could not convert from the difficult angle, Buccs now had sufficient breathing space to grab another victory that really was a lot closer than it should have been.

Bruff, a junior club a mere decade ago, are finding life at this level is harsh and they were unfortunate that Cahill’s late drop goal attempt was off-target as a losing bonus point would have given them something from their spirited display to build on. However, they are a mainly young, virtually all ‘home grown’ squad encountering a steep learning curve and they will have better days.

Buccs too may yet rue missing out on a bonus point that really looked there for the taking when they upped the ante in the third quarter but they lost their way and momentum. They came close to the home line on a number of occasions but lacked patience and guile in some promising situations. Their support play was often good and they consistently troubled Bruff most when they moved ball quickly but did not do this consistently enough throughout this encounter in which Kiripati, Colin Watters and Padraig de Burca were outstanding in a physical forwards battle where Bruff gave as good as they got. Buccaneers backline looked to have far more fluency and potential that was not fully capitalised on despite the performances of O’Brien, Boland and Kennedy. Like Bruff, they too will hopefully have learned from this outing. Nevertheless, Buccaneers have made their best start to the AIL in some seasons and already the forthcoming showdown away to Clontarf is much anticipated. 
BUCCANEERS:- C.Boland; J.O’Brien, P.Harte, A.Hayman, B.Touhy; J.Bennett, A.Kennedy; M.Staunton, G.Halligan (captain), C.Higgins; P. de Burca, J.Tormey; E.Rooney, C.Watters and K.Kiripati. Replacements:- D.Rodgers (for Staunton, 51 mins) and D.Qualter (for Tormey, 77 mins). M.Staunton (temporary for Rooney).

BRUFF:-  B.Deady; F.Daly, E.Cahill, B.Cahill (captain), J.Moore; A.Cahill, E.Maher; D.Horan, C.O’Regan, G.Ryan; A.Bourke, A.Laffan; M.O’Connell, J.Shine and P.Malone. Replacements:-  A.Cashman (for A.Cahill, 30 mins, inj.), J.Cleary (for Ryan, 51 mins), P.Cleary (for O’Regan, 77 mins) and A.White (for Laffan).

REFEREE:-  M.Patton. (Ulster).

SHANNON 27   BUCCANEERS 28

BUCCANEERS staged a remarkable fight-back to snatch a dramatic 28-27 victory away to Shannon in their South-West Conference of the U-21 National League thriller at Coonagh, Limerick, on Saturday. A last quarter salvo by Buccs stunned Shannon with David Fagan kicking a magnificent conversion with the final action of this game to pip the hosts by a solitary point.

Buccs started this game slowly, allowing a physically bigger Shannon dictate tempo and possession. However, a pair of Stewart Flynn penalties and a tidy Jack Carty drop goal kept the midlanders (who had David Fagan yellow carded in the opening half) in touch, trailing 17-9 at halftime. Shannon’s opening try emanated when Buccs backs were exposed out wide and their second try scored just before the interval was a contentious one. Following a scrum infringement just inside Buccs 22, Shannon were allowed quickly tap the resultant penalty to notch a try for a timely score that would have knocked the stuffing out of lesser sides.

They extended their advantage with a third try before the hour mark when Shannon now led 27-9 but Buccaneers mentors then rang the changes, some personnel and some positional. And how these alterations transformed this contest! Tom Nolan now carried the ball to much better effect while another substitute Robert Reid constantly made a nuisance of himself and Buccs finally galvanised themselves. John Hayes finished off good work by the pack for a try at the posts, converted by David Fagan. Shortly afterwards, further good picking and driving by the forwards yielded a Nolan try and now the arrears were down to six points.

Shannon were now rattled as Buccs threw everything at them, inspired by a blistering Conor Greene break that took them into the red zone. The midlanders were camped in the Shannon half for the closing stages but it seemed another try would never come as Shannon defended desperately. This pressure caused the hosts to infringe once too often and they had a player sin-binned. Yet they held up Buccs three times on the line in added time before they cracked with prop Nolan powering over for a try out wide. This left a difficult pressure kick for David Fagan but the fullback was equal to the challenge to stroke over a super conversion to seal a most uplifting victory, much to the chagrin of Shannon.

Flanker Hayes led by the true example of a captain with good all-round support from his forwards especially Brendan Fagan, who never took a step backwards. Nolan proved an inspired substitution and Rory Byrne made a substantial contribution. Philip Butler and Carty worked well at halfback. This was a magnificent comeback by Buccs who were short a number of key players including Callum Boland, Daniel Qualter and Jarrod Bennett (on duty with the Senior team), the injured Jack O’Carroll and Trevor Thompson, who was unavailable. 

BUCCANEERS:-  D.Fagan; E.Keena, C.Gormley, S.Flynn, C.Greene; J.Carty, P.Butler; D.Henshaw, E.O’Brien, L.Doran; R.Byrne, B.Stewart; B.Fagan, J.Hayes (captain) and J.Kenny. Replacements:- K.Naughton (for Flynn, inj. h/t), T.Nolan (for Doran, 60 mins), R.Reid (for Byrne, 60 mins) and E. de Burca (for Kenny, 60 mins).  

BALLYHAUNIS 10  BUCCANEERS 46

BUCCANEERS DEVELOPMENT XV recorded their third successive bonus point win in the Connacht Junior League with a 46-10 victory away to Ballyhaunis in a torrid tie on Sunday.

This was a real dogfight with yellow cards handed out to players on both sides. It may have been a bit of an eye opener for some members of this youthful Buccs squad but they used their skills and pace to good effect as they ran in seven tries against dogged opposition who were left exasperated by the flair of the midlanders. Lachlan Mitchell, Ger Walsh, Billy Henshaw and Adrian Hughes scored a try apiece in the first half with Henry Reilly, Conor Molloy and Henshaw again dotting down in the second period. Buccs led 29-3 at the break, Domhnall Corbett contributing three conversions and a penalty while John Connellan tacked on a second half conversion. 

Buccaneers, who picked up a number of injuries in this battle, were best served by Eddie Brady, Simone Bianco and a solid David Dunning in the pack along with backs Henshaw and Connellan.

BUCCANEERS:-  L.Mitchell; B.Henshaw, D.Byrne, J.Connellan, G.Walsh; D.Corbett, C.Draper; G.Bianco, E.Brady, B.Gilligan; M.Coleman, D.Dunning; S.Bianco, H.Reilly and A.Hughes. Replacements:- D.Lennon, C.Molloy, E.Bracken, L.Downey and T.Couper.

CREGGS  7  BUCCANEERS  13

BUCCANEERS THIRDS overcame Creggs 13-7 in a forwards orientated friendly encounter at The Green, Creggs, last Wednesday night. Buccs fared well in the set pieces but were then too often caught in possession or kicked aimlessly. Overall, they were that bit superior and warranted their hard-earned win.

The impressive Eamonn Bracken broke away from a scrum to drive over for Buccs try which was converted by Michael Donohoe who also landed a brace of penalties. Enda Haughey and Keith Grehan were two other forwards to catch the eye.

BUCCANEERS:-  K.O’Neill; R.Silke, D.Byrne, G.Walsh, T.Couper; G.Fallon, M.Donohoe; R.O’Brien, K.Grehan, E.Bracken; D.Dunning, M.Coleman; D.Lennon, E.Haughey and J.Crompton. Replacements used:- S.Coyle, C.Keogh, P.Hewitt, B.Kelly, J.O’Shaughnessy and P.Byrne.

BUCCS AWAY TO CORINTHIANS IN CUP

BUCCANEERS have been drawn away to Corinthians in the semi-final of this season’s Connacht Senior Cup with this match down for decision at Corinthian Park on Saturday afternoon, kick off 2.30 p.m. Buccs should progress in this encounter, having already dished out a hefty League defeat to Corinthians. However, the Galway side were somewhat short due to injuries on that occasion so Buccs will need to grant them due respect. Nevertheless, they should have too much in hand for the westerners who recorded a decent away win at Clonakilty on Saturday. With no AIB to sponsor the All Ireland Senior Cup this year, it takes a new format with the four provincial Cup winners meeting in the semi-finals so that is an added incentive for Buccaneers to treat this game seriously.

Cork club Sundays Well have looked for their South-west Conference fixture in the U-21 National League to be brought forward one week which, at time of writing, indicates that this attractive game against Buccaneers will now take place on this Saturday at Dubarry Park, kick off 2.30 p.m. Bouyed by their memorable victory away to Shannon, Buccs will be keen to keep their momentum going.

Buccaneers Thirds, still waiting on Connacht League fixtures, have another friendly at home to Tuam tonight (Wednesday), kick off 8 p.m. Methinks Tuam, Creggs and Buccs may be best advised to have their own little league!

SUPPORTERS BUS TO CLONTARF?

If demand warrants it, a Supporters bus may be organised for Buccaneers next AIL match which is away to Clontarf on the Bank Holiday Saturday, October 23rd. Any supporters or Pirates interested in availing of a bus should text Geraldine at 086-1732711 before next Tuesday.

INTERNATIONAL TICKETS

The Guinness Autumn International matches are fast approaching and the club is, with the assistance of the IRFU, providing subsidised bus transport for Ireland’s game against Samoa. Members interested in purchasing tickets for any or all of the four fixtures should ensure (1) that their membership subscription is paid up to date and (2) that they have their names entered in the Tickets Book at The Bounty. Members must write their name and ticket requirements into the book as soon as possible. 

FASHION SHOW

DUBARRY of Ireland invite you a very special Fashion Show at the Athlone Springs Hotel on Wednesday, November 4th. Tickets are on sale at the hotel and also at The Bounty, priced €20 each which includes Champagne reception on the night. Other exclusive fashions will be on the catwalk as will (if rumour is to be believed) some marauding Buccaneers players! That’s worth the admission alone, not to mention the decent discounts on any fashions purchased at the Fashion Show. Sounds like a real promising night out.

GOOD LUCK

Best wishes to Conor FitzGibbon who has been named in the Ireland Schools panel. This exciting young player did very well with Connacht U-18 and Schools teams this season, his consistent performances bringing him to the attention of the national selectors. Here’s wishing him ‘good luck’ and, if he plays for this particular Irish side, he will be the first Marist College, Athlone, student to do so.   

MISSING?

Unfortunately, a slightly unsavoury note to end this week’s notes on. Two distinctive Buccaneers ‘man of the match’ shirts went “missing” during Buccs opening game against Lansdowne while, on the following evening, the same thing happened to two pairs of Dubarry shoes, size 12 I understand. Both lots were removed from the club’s office at The Bounty. Assuming they were taken in error, the club would appreciate their swift return on a “no questions asked” basis. Someone surely knows their whereabouts!

Related

IRFU Youth Council Now Open For New Members