RUGBY with MICHAEL SILKE

BUCCANEERS 25  DUBLIN UNIVERSITY 23

BUCCANEERS brought joint leaders Dublin University’s lengthy winning sequence to an end in a thrilling Ulster Bank League Division 1B game at Dubarry Park where the midlanders edged a wonderful, swift-flowing encounter 25-23 on Saturday. The Pirates did it the hard way too, being short a handful of regulars, then in festive spirit gifting Trinity a soft early try before sustaining the only yellow card of a tremendously sporting battle played in glorious sunshine and in perfect playing conditions in Athlone. Three tries in an incredible six minutes salvo in the opening quarter gave Buccaneers a winning platform.

Buccs made four enforced changes in personnel from their previous outing at Malone. Eoghan Grace was injured, Daniel Qualter was in Connacht’s squad, Johannes Roets was ill and John O’Brien was on GAA duty.  With Michael Kearney also with Connacht and Shane Layden out through injury, Buccs resources were stretched although Kolo Kiripati and James Tormey were both fit again to resume after recent injuries. Billy Henshaw and Peter Reilly also started whilst Trinity fielded a very settled squad.  

A grubber diagonal kick after only 4 minutes forced Buccs to hack to touch inside their own 22 but the homesters were not switched on as Trinity took a quick throw-in, catching the hosts napping, and Jack Kelly barged over for a try with Dave Joyce’s fine conversion giving the Students a tonic gift-wrapped start. With so many absentees, home fans were apprehensive but Buccs were not fazed and went straight back on the offensive, forcing the metropolitans to concede three close-in penalties in quick succession. All were kicked to touch on the left and, following a fine catch by Luke Satchwell, the home pack made it third time lucky to power over the Trinity line where Kiripati applied the finishing touch for a 9th minute try. Four minutes later, Jack Carty made a sniping break that stretched the College defence and, when the ball was recyled to the outhalf, Carty lofted a precise crossfield kick that Alex Hayman came steaming onto for Buccs second try, this time wide on the opposite flank.

It got even better for the Pirates within two minutes. A fast counter-attack from the restart and good hands by Tormey and Reilly led to Callum Boland haring in for a third home try and a 15-7 lead. Three tries in a frenzied six minutes! Buccs then had a setback when experienced hooker Garreth Halligan was injured before the end of a frantic opening quarter but Enda O’Brien , like his teammates, rose to the challenge. The game was really ebbing and flowing, with Dublin University being denied near the left corner when Kiripati prevented a touchdown while Dave Fanagan had to be alert at the other end to clear the visitors’ lines. Buccaneers were now dominating and the pressure yielded a 27th minute penalty from which Carty finally found his range at the fourth attempt.

Trinity kept in touch when Paddy Lavelle landed a 33rd minute penalty. After a near relentless opening, the Pirates dropped their tempo at this stage and Trinity, with Cathal Marsh (on for the injured Joyce) quickly making his influence felt, reduced the arrears further with a Marsh penalty two minutes before the break. But in the final move of the half, a Buccs clearance failed to make touch and and the visitors attacked with menace, but the Athlone men turned over possession and a fine flowing counter attack initiated by Hayman led to Carty chipping exquisitively to the left where Kiripati finished off in style for his second try which assured Buccs of a bonus point. Carty added a splendid conversion and the hosts had a decent 25-13 advantage.

Trinity were not going to end their unbeaten run without a real battle and so it proved. Soon after the restart, Fanagan looked like he had split the home rearguard with a searing run but Carty somehow got back to deny him. However, the Students’ support arrived quickest and fast hands transferred the ball from left to right where Neil Hanratty squeezed in at the corner for a 47th minute try. Marsh’s conversion from near the right touchline just made it over the crossbar. Rossa Taylor then made his debut for the homesters in place of the injured Boland before Buccs suffered a further setback when Tormey was rather harshly sin-binned for offside, although the ball looked clearly out and playable to him. Marsh coolly slotted the resultant 56th minute penalty to leave just two points between the teams to set up a gripping finish.

Buccs worked liked dervishes whilst a man short with both Satchwell and Henshaw nailing Niyi Adeolukan when possession came to the Trinity danger man. The game continued from end to end even in the final quarter with Buccs marauding to College’s discomfort. It was fast, furious but fair throughout, and an absolutely wonderful advertisement for club rugby. On such an ideal afternoon for rugby, the only disappointment was that the crowd was not bigger. They missed a real Christmas cracker. Spirited Buccs’ merited victory means they have climbed to third place, just five points adrift of Dublin University who slip to second despite securing a losing bonus point. Inspiring skipper Kiripati was outstanding and a very worthy winner of the ‘AUDI ATHLONE Man of the Match’ accolade in what was truly a collective effort by the full squad with Martin Staunton, Rory Byrne, Mark Dolan and especially Henshaw warranting particular mention.       

 

BUCCANEERS:- C.Boland; B.Henshaw, C.Finn, A.Hayman, M.McCrea; J.Carty, M.Dolan; M.Staunton, G.Halligan, P.Reilly; R.Byrne, J.Tormey; D.Heffernan, L.Satchwell & K.Kiripati (captain). Replacements:- E.O’Brien (for Halligan, inj. 19 mins), R.Taylor (for Boland, inj. 48 mins), D.Higgins (for Reilly, 56 mins), P.Reilly (for Staunton, 67 mins), A.Connaughton (for Satchwell, 71 mins), M.Staunton (for Reilly, 78 mins) and D.Griffith.

DUBLIN UNIVERSITY:- D.Fanagan; N.Hanratty, P.Lavelle, C.Wade, N.Adeolukan; D.Joyce, M.McLoughlin (captain); I.Hirst, W.Larkin, T.Collis; J.Kelly, M.Waters; P.Dargan, B.du Toit & J.Dilger. Replacements:- C.McDonnell (for Waters, 28 mins), M.Kelly (for Collis, 28 mins), C.Marsh (for Joyce, inj. 33 mins), T.Collis (for Hirst, inj. 42 mins), J.O’Donoghue (for Fanagan, inj. 70 mins), P.Carroll (for Larkin, 75 mins) and M.Waters (for J.Kelly, 78 mins).

REFEREE:-  Simon McDowell (IRFU).

 

BUCCANEERS 18  SLIGO 7

 

BUCCANEERS WOMENS team put in a tremendous display when defeating champions Sligo 18-7 in their Connacht Womens League clash at Dubarry Park, Athlone, on Sunday. Weather conditions were foul but the Buccs girls lit up the afternoon with a hugely impressive squad effort that deserved an even more clearcut winning margin.

The ‘Buccettes’ hit the ground running in this joust with their arch rivals and they were utterly dominant from start to finish. The only blot on their performance was a lack of clinical finishing as they squandered many good opportunities, albeit the greasy conditions did not help their cause. Consequently, with the scoreline not truly reflecting the territory and possession enjoyed by the hosts, there was always the danger that Sligo’s swift backs could get a break or two similar to their solitary try which kept them in contention until Buccs eventually nabbed their second try.

Buccs forced the pace all the way from the first whistle and their pressure had Sligo in difficulty regularly before they grabbed the opening score on 17 minutes. Then the effervescent Myriam Borque Coscajo charged down a hurried clearance to swoop for a try in weather that the Spanish girl is surely not accustomed to! Emma Phelan drilled over the conversion and Buccs piled on concerted pressure for a period that should have yielded another try or two but all they had to show for their superiority was a fine Phelan penalty that put the Athlone girls 10-0 ahead after 31 minutes.

Three minutes later, totally against the run of play, Sligo’s Rachel Gordon scampered away for a try that Amy Geraghty converted to leave the margin much tighter 10-7 at halftime. Buccs continued to dictate on the resumption and the visitors’ fullback was sin-binned when she tackled Phelan as the home outhalf chased her own kick ahead. A penalty try could have ensued but Buccs extended their advantage with Phelan’s penalty kick after 53 minutes. Sligo dug deep when numerically disadvantaged to keep the score at 13-7 but they were undone yet again at scrumtime when Buccs turned over possession and the formidable Sinead Taylor powered through for an excellent 72nd minute try that sealed a thoroughly deserved 18-7 victory.

This was a terrific team effort by Buccaneers who were missing their chief scorer Niamh Ni Dhroma, who was on duty with Connacht. Congrats to Niamh! But there is better balance and more options in their squad now, and in Taylor and Phelan they have unearthed a couple of gems. Anne Marie Sleator had a sterling showing while Borque Coscajo, Sharon Hynds and Niamh Gough also did well.

BUCCANEERS:-  M.Devaney; Y.O’Shea, A.Kelleher, S.Taylor, N.Gough; E.Phelan, S.Hynds; T.Finnerty, M.Kiripati (captain), A.M.Sleator; C.Moore, N.Egan; M.Borque Coscajo, C.Mannion & E.Conlon. Replacements:- D.Coghill (for Mannion, h/t) and C.Mannion (for Devaney, inj. 44 mins).

REFEREE:- Noel Crowley (Connacht).

 

CASTLEBAR 5  BUCCANEERS 26

BUCCANEERS THIRDS continued their impressive form with a comfortable 26-5 Connacht Junior 2 League victory away to Castlebar on Sunday. Despite the horrible weather conditions that were not conducive to expansive rugby, Buccs controlled matters from start to finish to maintain their position at top of the league table.

Sean Byrne excelled in the forwards battle with able assistance from Tristan Couper and Trevor Thompson while Damien Kelly and Mark Tormey were pick of the backline. Buccs led 19-0 at halftime and their scores came through tries by Byrne (2), Thompson and Tormey with Darren Costello and Nicky Purcell contributing three conversions between them.

BUCCANEERS:-  K.O’Neill; M.Tormey, D.Kelly, S.Flynn, D.Smith; D.Costello, N.Purcell; L.Doran, K.Grehan, T.Thompson; G.Kenny, V.McGrath; G.Glynn (captain), T.Couper & S.Byrne. Replacements:- R.Silke (for O’Neill), J.Bonnar (for Smith), N.Flynn (for Glynn), C.Galvin (for Thompson), K.Langdon (for Doran) and Leo Aadic.

 

FIXTURES

BUCCANEERS DEVELOPMENT SQUAD are home to Dunmore in a must-win Connacht Junior 1B League tie at Dubarry Park while the Thirds are on the road again to square up with Galwegians in the Connacht J2 League at Crowley Park. Both games scheduled for 2.30 pm kick-offs on Sunday.

 

CONNACHT EAGLES

CONNACHT EAGLES tackle Cross Keys in a crunch British & Irish Cup pool game at Dubarry Park, Athlone, on Saturday week. This should be a decent contest with the Welsh club, who were defeated by Munster in last season’s final. A goodly number of Buccaneers players are likely to feature for the Eagles. Kick off time is scheduled for 2 pm so that supporters can then watch the Heineken Cup matches in The Bounty afterwards. Connacht season ticket holders will be admitted free to this fixture.

 

LADIES CHRISTMAS PARTY

The annual Buccaneers Ladies Christmas Party, which takes place in The Bounty on this Friday night, December 7th, has a “50 Shades of Red!” theme. It begins with a mulled wine reception at 8 pm. and will be followed by a 3-course meal to “tease your senses”, with music afterwards by Terry & Bianca Benson. Santa will also be making an appearance (so please bring a small present). It promises to be a night of craic and banter and, in keeping with tradition, players from the Senior squad will be expected to serve and wait on the ladies on the night. Tickets can be purchased in advance; please contact Geraldine at 086 1732711 to book or confirm attendance.

 

LOTTO JACKPOT

The numbers drawn in this week’s Buccaneers Lotto were 2, 7, 12 & 28.

 

CONDOLENCES

Deepest condolences are extended to Georgina Kenny and family on the death of her husband Peter Mulvihill. Sincere sympathy also to the family of the late Noel Mulligan.

 

BAG PACK

Bag-packing in aid of underage rugby takes place on December 13th, 14th & 15th at Dunnes Stores, Irishtown, Athlone. Volunteers always welcome. Contact Fintan O’Reilly or Geraldine Kenny at 086 1732711.

 

CHRISTMAS GIFT IDEAS

BUCCANEERS replica gear could be the ideal Christmas gift for budding Brian O’Driscoll’s or Tommy Bowe’s around the club or indeed for any fan of the Pirates. Enquiries/orders to Jacqui Pears 085 1133806 or call in to the Club Shop on Saturday mornings.  Dinner vouchers for The Bounty 090 6477566 could also be perfect to give at this festive time.

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