RUGBY with MICHAEL SILKE

U.C.C. 14  BUCCANEERS 7

BUCCANEERS U-20s suffered their first defeat of the season when they went down narrowly 14-7 to University College, Cork, in their South-West Conference League Division One game played at Curraheen Road, Cork, on Saturday.  But Buccs will view this as a missed opportunity to maintain their 100% sequence for they failed to build on a fine first half display after which they led 7-0.

Buccs fielded the same pack that accounted for UL Bohemian last time out while Ben Carty and Eoghan O’Reilly (both on duty that day with the Senior XV) returned at outhalf and fullback respectively. Saba Meunargia and Josh O’Rourke, who featured for Connacht Eagles the previous afternoon, both played. However, Jacob Walshe sustained an injury in that game that ruled him out.

A strong crossfield breeze ruined this match as a spectacle on a pitch that was quite good considering the recent persistent wet weather. Buccs pack was well up to the challenge posed by the College forwards as the ball was generally kept in tight. The Pirates front row trio of Meunargia and the two Conors — McGrath and Morrissey — did particularly well throughout. As the game entered the second quarter, a fine drive following a lineout was finished off by Sam McCormack for a try which Carty converted. The standoff missed two penalties before halftime, at which stage the midlanders led 7-0.

Two early second half penalties for the Students left just the minimum between the sides before UCC went ahead following a series of pick and goes that yielded a try. Buccaneers enjoyed ample possession even though they did not maintain the promise of the first half and, on this occasion, just could not transfer territory into scores. As the rain arrived, UCC completed the scoring when converting a penalty with the last kick of a decent contest.

With Galwegians having, apparently, now withdrawn from this league, the rejigged table has Buccs back on top ahead of Cork Constitution, who they play next week. Cork Con have a game in hand but the losing bonus point acquired against UCC could yet be priceless. Evan Galvin, at openside flanker, was another forward to do well while Carty was pick of the backline.

BUCCANEERS:-  E.O’Reilly; H.Hughes, S.Dempsey, S.Doyle, B.Gilligan; B.Carty, R.Dixon; C.McGrath, C.Morrissey, S.Meunargia; J.O’Rourke, C.Romaine; R.Enraght-Mooney, E.Galvin and S.McCormack. Replacement used:- R.Ashe (for Dixon).

BUCCS HOME TO TRINITY

BUCCANEERS really must return to winning ways when they welcome Ireland’s oldest club Dublin University to Dubarry Park, Athlone, on Saturday for an Ulster Bank League Division 1B fixture that kicks off at 2.30 p.m.

Buccs saw off a gritty challenge by the Students at Sydney Parade early in the season by 15-7. This was during a period that Trinity couldn’t buy a win but their last two performances have garnered points for them and boosted confidence as they have edged up to third from bottom. They lost away to Corinthians by the minimum margin and then defeated Dungannon in a crucial basement battle. College finished third in the league last season and still have the nucleus of that squad, including Niyi Adeolukan, Conor Kearns and Paddy Lavelle in the backs and forwards such as Pierce Dargan, Brian du Toit and Jack Dilger. So Buccs cannot take them for granted as they are a much better side than their current league position suggests.

After such a promising start to the league, Buccs have really gone off the boil. They have lost their last four matches, securing just two points from a possible twenty. They absolutely must return to the form and flair shown pre-Christmas and, if they do, they can make home advantage pay. A lively tussle is anticipated with scores aplenty likely.

Other Fixtures

BUCCANEERS SECONDS are home to their Monivea counterparts in the Connacht Junior 1B League at Dubarry Park on Sunday. Kick off is 2.30 p.m. Buccs lie in third place at the moment, seven points adrift of Ballyhaunis with a game in hand. Monivea are propping up this league table and so a home win will be anticipated. However, Buccs cannot afford any complacency or the visitors could spring a fatal surprise.

BUCCANEERS THIRDS travel to Claremorris on Sunday for a Connacht J2 League fixture, kicking off at 2.30 p.m. Buccs are second in the table with a game in hand on pace-setters Corinthians so will be favoured to account for the Mayo outfit who lack the experience of this Athlone squad. 

Related

Club & Community statement following the conclusion of domestic rugby season