U.C.C. 25  (B.Dennehy try, I.Dineen try, S.Scanlon try & con; A.Burke 2 pens & con)

BUCCANEERS  6    (A.Kennedy 2 pens)

Despite a quite promising opening half-hour, Buccaneers slumped to a disappointing 25-6 AIB League Division 1B defeat away to University College, Cork, at the Mardyke on Saturday. Conditions were fine with the pitch in surprisingly firm and good nick following it’s recent flooding, and a diagonal breeze was all that made life somewhat difficult for the players.

Buccs welcomed back John O’Brien and Paul Harte after recent injuries with Brian Touhy also returning in the backline where Brian O’Carroll started at outhalf with Alex Hayman reverting to centre. With an unchanged pack for the fourth successive match, it looked a much better Buccs outfit on paper as they squared up to a young College side that was hugely changed from last season. The midlanders had first advantage of the elements and large chunks of the opening half hour were played in the home half but Buccs squandered three penalties in that period. The first two, admittedly, were long-range efforts but the third was eminently kickable. Buccs should really have opened their account with their lively play in this period when UCC almost conceded an 7th minute try after Conor Lavelle blocked down but the Students defence retrieved that early danger.

While Buccaneers did not score early, more positively they did not concede the early scores that have blighted their displays to date. However, UCC got on the scoreboard in their first telling attack on 26 minutes, Andrew Burke landing a penalty after Buccs came in from the side. Five minutes later, the midlanders indulged in some kamikaze play when Hayman (normally so reliable) made a dreadful pass straight to Brian Dennehy and then compounded his woeful error by slipping, allowing his opposite number to race 70 metres unchallenged for a breakaway try totally against the run of play. Ex-Garryowen player Burke slotted over the conversion and Buccs were again chasing a game. Adam Kennedy finally found his range when UCC were pinged for another ruck infringement on 33 minutes while Buccs had a let-off two minutes later after Stephen Burke’s late tackle on Ivan Dineen. The visitors were doubly fortunate that the referee did not flash a yellow card and that UCC’s Burke missed the resultant penalty. While it was disappointing to be trailing 10-3 at halftime having had so much possession and territory, this match was still very much a winnable one for Buccs who replaced Colm Glynn for O’Carroll at the break.

Four minutes into the second half, College were again guilty when bringing down a Buccs drive and Kennedy reduced the arrears with his penalty kick. But the Students got another slice of luck five minutes later when the referee penalised Buccs for handling at a scrum although a home flanker clearly dropped the ball forward. Ireland U-20 Burke did not worry about that as he counter-balanced the scoreline with a successful penalty. The decisive score arrived before the hour mark, Sean Scanlon claiming a long Buccs restart and the full-back targeted the opponents’ props with a powerful run that really should not have carried him all the way through from deep for a try wide on the left to stretch UCC’s lead to 18-6 after 57 minutes.

Seven minutes later, referee Barry O’Keeffe belatedly had enough of the home side’s persistent infringing and he despatched Dennehy to the sin-bin. Buccs made good ground from the resultant placekick but Benny Gilligan, just on the paddock a mere two minutes, promptly saw yellow when deemed guilty of shoeing. Thus Buccs numerical advantage was all too readily thrown away. Five minutes later, UCC almost notched a try set up after an unpunished late tackle on Glynn and the hapless referee was a key figure again in the 79th minute when he reversed a penalty decision to Buccs who were protesting, quite correctly, that a UCC player had clearly kicked the ball away well after the penalty was awarded. But College rode their luck to get good territory in the left and Ivan Dineen forced his way over for his side’s third try which Scanlon converted.

This was a vital win for the Students which elevates them to third place in the league table. They survived a very ropey opening but they were always industrious and made the most of the breaks that came their way. They were much sharper at rucking albeit almost consistently getting away with not staying on their feet. John Ryan, Philip Donnellan, Scanlon and Burke all played key roles in this crucial win that leaves Buccs rooted at the bottom. The midlanders once again conceded soft scores despite their wholehearted endeavours. They lack leadership and a clinical edge, tending to unnecessarily hurry matters too often. Santa really needs to produce a regular try-scorer although pacey duo Harte and O’Brien may be the answer here when they get back to full fitness after their lengthy injury lay-offs. A more prolific return from placekicks is also essential.  Padraig Burke and O’Brien were Buccs two most prominent contributors while Glynn’s return to the fold could have an important bearing if Buccs are to climb out of the relegation zone.

BUCCANEERS:- J.O’Brien; C.Lavelle, B.Touhy, A.Hayman, P.Harte; B.O’Carroll, A.Kennedy; M.Staunton, G.Halligan, C.Higgins; P.Burke, J.Tormey; S.Burke, C.Watters and C.Rigney (captain). Replacements used:- C.Glynn (for O’Carroll, h/t), B.Gilligan (for Staunton, 63 mins), G.Kelly (for S.Burke, 63 mins) and S.Stapleton (for Watters, 73 mins). Temporary substitution:- Staunton (for Kelly).

U.C.C:-  S.Scanlon; B.Derham, B.Dennehy, I.Dineen (captain), K.Buckley; A.Burke, B.Slater; G.Duffy, W.Falvey, John Ryan; M.Lenihan, P.Donnellan; D.O’Callaghan, S.O’Sullivan and James Ryan. Replacements used:- A.Cudmore (for Duffy, 68 mins), B.Cagney (for Falvey, 68 mins),N.Barry (for O’Sullivan, 71 mins) and R.O’Sullivan (for Burke, 77 mins).

REFEREE:-  Barry O’Keeffe (Leinster).


BUCCANEERS U-21’s finally recorded a long overdue victory in the South-West Conference National League when they defeated Bruff 15-6 in a hard-fought encounter at Dubarry Park, Athlone, on Saturday. This was a crunch win for the homesters in a real dogfight contested mainly in the forwards trenches.

Although underfoot conditions were understandably a bit soft, it was an otherwise ideal afternoon for this battle. Bruff opened the scoring with a penalty before Buccs replied midway through the half with a magnificent solo try by Ian Coffey who outmanoeuvred a handful of opponents enroute to touching down under the posts for an inspiring score. He duly converted and also kicked a penalty to give Buccs a tenuous 10-3 halftime advantage.

Bruff kept in touch with their second successful penalty but Buccs responded when David Fagan initiated a fine backs handling move that put Conor Molloy in for a try wide in the corner. Bruff battled passionately but Buccs restricted them to a penalty with the last kick of a match that boiled over on a number of occasions. The referee did not keep a sufficiently firm control of the proceedings and, following a protracted melee, issued a red card to a player from each side.

Shane O’Neill revelled in the exchanges, Jack O’Carroll put himself about well and Tom Nolan carried some good ball in a hell of a forwards’ duel. All-rounder Coffey is swiftly developing as a promising rugby player while Molloy was another back to impress on the day. However, it was a win at a cost with John Hayes and Eoin Doolan sustaining nasty injuries and both players are wished swift and full recoveries.

BUCCANEERS:-  I. Coffey; C.Molloy, E.Doolan, C.Draper, J.Byrne; D.Fagan, A.Hyde; L.Doran, D.Egan, T.Nolan; K.Headd, S.O’Neill; J.Hayes, J.O’Carroll and P.Robinson (captain). Replacements used:-  C.Hanly (for Doolan, inj.), R.Byrne (for Hayes, inj.) and J.J.Carey (for Doran).

Buccaneers 0  Corrib 11

Buccaneers suffered another defeat in the Connacht Junior League, this time at the hands of Corrib at Dubarry Park on Sunday. Both teams were evenly matched with big hits going in on both sides on a nippy afternoon.

Corrib had the first chance to score with a 20 metre rolling maul that forced Buccs to infringe to collapse it giving Corrib an easy 3 pointer to take the lead. Buccs fought back and good play from James O’Connell, David Dunning and Kevin Creavin led to kickable opportunities but all three were narrowly missed. Late in the first half, after good pressure from the visitors, Buccs failed to deal with a fine  cross field kick which allowed the alert visitors to score a try wide on the right. The conversion was missed leaving the half time score 8-0 in favour of Corrib.

The second half started well for Buccs with great runs from O’Connell and the ever busy Adrian Hughes. Buccs defended well and attacked with purpose but were unable to make a breakthrough despite dominating possession and territory. Buccs made a mess of a good opportunity from a cross field kick by Darren Costello which should have yielded a try. The game ended with a penalty to Corrib to leave the score 11-nil to the visitors who are going well in the league table.

Buccaneers can feel unlucky not to have taken at least a bonus point from this game. It was a decent all round team performance but there was a lack of coherence that can only come from the training ground and if this team can be motivated then relegation will not be an issue.
The star performers were all up front in a good performance by the pack. Hughes, Benny Gilligan, Mark Coleman, Darragh Lennon, Paul Galvin and Greg McGill all played extremely well but Dunning and Creavin stood out. In the backs Costello and O’Connell were very effective. The backs wider out didn’t get enough ball to really shine but Declan Byrne and Ian Kilbride put in a lot of important tackles.
Buccaneers:- Ian Kilbride; Cormac Sheehy, Declan Byrne, James O’Connell, Ger Walsh;
Darren Costello, Cormac O’Keeffe; Benny Gilligan, Darragh Lennon, Greg McGill; Paul Galvin, Mark Coleman; David Dunning, Kevin Creavin and Adrian Hughes (captain).


BUCCANEERS and Galwegians renew rivalry when the clubs square up in the South-West Conference U-21 National League at Dubarry Park on Saturday, kick off 2.30 p.m. This fixture is a rescheduled game which fell victim to the recent downpours but, with no other matches arranged at time of writing, this tie should attract a sizeable crowd to the Athlone ground on Saturday.
There is always great rivalry between these powers of Connacht rugby, whatever level matches are played at. This contest is unlikely to be any different but Buccs will be boosted by their win over Bruff and will hope to finish off the year on a high note with victory over the westerners. 

Replacements used:- Emmett Egan (for O’Keeffe, h/t) and Gavin Kelly (for Coleman, 55 mins).

Westport were unfortunate to lose eight players due to injury and travelled with a team of plucky players and admirably they kept their optimism against Buccaneers, a team in form, right to the final whistle. The whole Buccs panel played their hearts out and every player participated in this result. A total of eight tries were scored by Dooley (2) FitzGibbon (2), Connaughton (2), Seery and Corbett and further points were added with fine kicks by both Robert Henshaw and Cian Bradley.
One man who had a hand or a boot in almost every try was scrum-half Barry Digby who for the most part orchestrated the play. He has developed the uncanny ability to pick out the man on the move and hit him with the pass, for example when Connaughton timed his run and direction from deep was unstoppable on a solo finish. Also Digby hit FitzGibbon for his breaks and even one exquisite Digby chip ahead behind the defence saw winger Seery through resulting in a try. The speed of fleet-footed Cian O’Reilly was special to see and stretched Westport out wide defence to the limit. Likewise Cian Bradley proved efficient at out-half and when called on to play full back he obliged, giving long relieving kicks on his golden left boot as did Jack Linnane.
The pack, providers of the ball, played up a stormer with Connaughton and Doorley best, with notable support by Hennessy, lock Colm Conroy, Glen Carey, Eoin Kelly and of course Big Red Lee McLaughlin was outstanding too. It was Ferbane man Doorley though who broke the ice with a brace of tries from in close to rucks to get over the Westport line with force and while under fierce physical pressure he delicately controlled the ball to touch down.
24 points to nil down at half time Westport fought on, bravely tackling to foil many a Buccs attempted pass. There were occasions when a Buccs ball carrier had only one man to beat to the try line but the Buccs player too often seemed to take the opportunity to fall into the tackle, looking for support and this slowed down the attack and favoured the defence when to show more confidence by trying to swerve or kick ahead and race for the touchdown would have been more exciting to watch. 
It must be remembered that Westport were missing eight regulars so it is understandable that they were weaker than usual and Buccs will not be able to have solo runs against the formidable opposition of Munster League Champions Garryowen down in Limerick City next Sunday when team work and more passing will be the only way to have a chance to win.
Coaches Michael Donoghue, Tony Henshaw and Ronan Bushell are delighted to have the services of well renowned Senior Coach in Jude Lennon who has been involved for a number of weeks and their combined work can be seen coming through. Also kit-man Tom Farrell and ‘physio’ Dermot Sloane make sure the players are ready for action and the match reports are done by yours truly Jim FitzGibbon. Over all manager is Paddy Hynes is very satisfied and in an interview today said he is now eagerly looking ahead to the Garryowen clash next Sunday, he called it: “The Big One against Garryowen, the Munster Champions” and says he feels this will stretch Buccs to a new level! The turn out by many family and friends in support was noticeable and much appreciated by players and club.The whole squad is needed again this Friday night at seven pm sharp before travelling Sunday to Limerick city for the big match against Garryowen.
Buccaneers:- Bryan Teape, Damien Hyland, Lee Mc Loughlin, Simon Garvey, Ryan Sheridan,  Robbie Henshaw, Conor Seery, Tadhg Hennessy, Cian Bradley, Robert Corcoran, James Garnell,  Tiernan Morrissey, Aidan Connaughton, Barry Digby, Mel Corbett, Glynn Carey, John Dooley, James Donoghue, Jack Linnane, Michael Duddy, Colm Conroy, Cian O’Reilly, Daniel McNeill, Conor FitzGibbon, Jack Donoghue, Eoin Maher, Dylan Lynch, Eoghan Kelly and John Dooley.


The Jes reach last four with last minute winner