BUCCANEERS 25  GARRYOWEN 3

BUCCANEERS moved to the top of the U-20 South-West Conference Division One League with a clearcut 25-3 victory over Garryowen at Dubarry Park, Athlone, on Saturday.  On a foggy but dry afternoon, Buccs were slicker and stronger than the visitors as they dominated for large swathes of a keen enough tussle, although the Pirates may rue not picking up a bonus point that was there for the taking.

Buccs signalled their intent from the off and were swiftly on the scoreboard as Tom Finucane showed good strength and persistence to get through a number of tackles down the right flank for a well taken unconverted try inside two minutes. Further purposeful work by the Pirates forced a 9th minute penalty which Ben Carty converted. Some niggly skirmishes made an early entry into the contest and referee Joe Doyne cooled some of the over-enthusiasm with a pair of yellow cards after 14 minutes when Buccs hooker Conor McGrath and the Limerick side’s tighthead prop Seaghan Gleeson were despatched to the sin bin.

This did not disrupt Buccaneers adventurous play and, three minutes later, they carved out a second try in the right corner. Finucane was again involved, setting a promising raid in motion and Ross Enraght-Moony looked like finishing it off but was stopped just short of the Garryowen line. However, Evan Galvin was up in support to drive over for a well-executed score that was converted by Carty for a 15-0 lead. The Munster side then enjoyed a brief respite and fullback James Frawley landed a 23rd minute penalty that proved to be their only score. But Buccs soon regained control and laid siege inside the Garryowen 22 for a prolonged spell before half-time. They came tantalisingly close to adding another try or two before the interval with scrumhalf Ricky Dixon twice being desperately unlucky not to breach the visitors’ cover in which Tobi Ademakin was utterly defiant. The scrumhalf was tackled into touch just at the left corner flag and, earlier, following his quickly tapped close- in penalty he knocked on in the tackle although the tackler had clearly not retreated the requisite distance. Nevertheless, Buccs were in a highly promising position 15-3 ahead at the break.

Carty stretched the Athlone side’s advantage with a penalty four minutes into the second half after Garryowen were guilty of dissent. The homesters dropped their tempo for the mid section of this half and they allowed themselves to be distracted when calm heads and better composure would surely have reaped further dividends on the scoreboard. As the game entered the final quarter, Dixon discommoded Garryowen inside the home half and Carty made an exciting attack that, had it been more direct, would surely have been rewarded with a try. However, this reinvigorated the Pirates and substitute Conor Morrissey burst through for a 70th minute try which Carty converted to put Buccs 25-3 to the good.

They applied further sustained pressure on the visitors but lacked a clinical edge to notch a bonus try. Some unforced errors did not help their cause while Garryowen, whilst struggling for long periods, continued to battle to maintain their pride with No.8 Ademakin perpetually in the thick of the action. Buccs front five ruled the forwards exchanges with props Jacob Walshe and Saba Meunargia to the fore. Finucane was the most threatening in the home backline where Dixon put in another honest shift as Buccs took a prized scalp. This was a solid, all-round effort and Buccs now top this division ahead of Saturday’s home joust with U.L.Bohemian in Athlone.

Footnote:- The Buccaneers U-20 management team and players thank St. Peter’s Football Club for use of their facilities at short notice last week.

BUCCANEERS:-  E.O’Reilly; T.Finucane, S.Doyle, S.Dempsey, B.Gilligan; B.Carty (captain), R.Dixon; J.Walshe, C.McGrath, S.Meunargia; J.O’Rourke, C.Romaine; S.McCormack, R.Enraght-Moony and E.Galvin. Replacements:- C.Morrissey (for Enraght-Moony), C.Langan (for Gilligan), R.Ashe (for Dixon), D.Kiely (for McCormack) and B.Goode (for Doyle).

GARRYOWEN:- J.Frawley; G.Bateman, J.Leonard, E.Chesser, E.Moloney; C.Monahan, J.Maher; C.Bartley, S.Shine, S.Gleeson; T.McCloskey, I.Gibson; K.McInerney, J.Sheahan and T.Ademakin. Replacements:- E.Costello (for Shine), J.Galligan (for Bartley), R.O’Halloran (for McInerney), K.McInerney (for Gibson), C.Ryan (for Maher), S.Murphy (for Bateman), J.Beary (for Leonard) and S.Shine (for McInerney).

REFEREE:- Joe Doyne (Connacht).         

CREGGS 3  BUCCANEERS 29

BUCCANEERS SECONDS continued on from last week’s fine win to record a notable 29-3 Connacht Junior 1B League victory away to Creggs at The Green on Sunday.  With both clubs chasing the play-off berth, this was a keenly contested tussle between local rivals and a good hardy game ensued.

The damp cleared off pre kick off and, for the first time this season, Buccs were able to field a virtually unchanged side with Harry Hughes coming in for Sean Flynn in the only change from the success against Dunmore. Buccs enjoyed an edge in the scrum and this led to their opening score when steady pressure by the Pirates pack led to a penalty try which David Fagan converted. Both teams traded penalties before the pace of  winger Hughes fashioned a second Buccs try just before half-time to give the Shannonsiders a 15-3 lead.

Buccs endeavoured to move the ball faster on the restart and this created gaps in the home cover. The wily Kolo Kiripati made the most of one of these openings to grab try number three. The sharper Buccs backline looked like adding to their tally but Creggs put in a reinvigorated finish. However, the Athlone men had the final say when Brendan Fagan snaffled possession on his own 10 metre line and hared 60 metres for a bonus point try at the posts. Outhalf and brother David converted to complete the 29-3 that did not fully reflect on Creggs’ efforts.  

Kiripati was a key influence on the exchanges while Niall Flynn was a livewire flanker. David Fagan and the noticeably improving Ray O’Reilly formed an adroit partnership at halfback while Paul Harte’s talent was evident at centre. With second placed Ballyhaunis dropping points for the second successive week, Buccs have now cut the deficit to two points.

BUCCANEERS:-  D.Byrne; H.Hughes, P.Harte, B.Walsh, C.O’Reilly; D.Fagan, R.O’Reilly; L.Doran, R.Grenham, T.Thompson; R.Byrne, S.Byrne; N.Flynn, B.Fagan (captain) and K.Kiripati. Replacements:- S.Flynn, J.Lopez, C.Morrissey and A.Daly.     

OUGHTERARD  3  BUCCANEERS 13

BUCCANEERS THIRDS had to maintain their workrate and resolve to overcome a gritty challenge by Oughterard at the Co. Galway town on Sunday when the midlanders won a tough Connacht Junior 2 League tie by 13-3.

Jack O’Connor scored the all-important try for Buccs and the young centre put in a man of the match contribution. Darren Costello converted the try and also kicked a brace of penalties while the home side managed just a solitary penalty despite having a decent ratio of possession and territory. In a tight contest, Buccs conceded too many penalties for their own good but defended with resilience and discipline when it mattered in a frantic finish. Nicky Purcell and Mark Tormey were other backs to impress.

BUCCANEERS:-  M.Tormey; R.Sweeney, K.Turley, J.O’Connor, G.Fallon; D.Costello, N.Purcell; K.Langdon, M.Lyons, P.Rikadze; V.McGrath, G.Kenny; K.Kennedy, N.Hyland and C.Galvin. Replacements:- L.Didebashvili.  

LOUGHREA 10 BUCCANEERS 24

Buccaneers returned to winning ways in their first Connacht U-13 League match post the festive season against a well drilled Loughrea side at the Ballygasty ground. On a breezy but dry, bright afternoon, Loughrea started with the advantage of the strong breeze and kept Buccs camped in their own half for large parts of the opening period.

They came at Buccs in waves of sustained pressure and but for some handing errors they surely would have breached the Buccs line sooner. However after 8 minutes Loughrea managed to maintain possession to score in the left corner, which was not converted. Buccs were struggling to get a foothold in the game not helped by aimless kicking into the strong wind. Eventually the Athlone boys began to find their rhythm and go through the phases that resulted in a fine try by Darragh Murray, Shane Cunnane unlucky with the conversion. 5-5 at half-time.

The second half saw Buccs dominate territory and possession and a noticeable increase in intensity, effort and purpose. Yet completely against the run of play Loughrea were to score first with an unconverted try left of the post. Loughrea’s fullback hacked on a loose pass and showed great football skills to control the ball repeatedly with his foot up to the Buccs line. Buccs regrouped and set about atoning for this mishap. Within 5 mins Eabhan Slattery went on a mazy run that left half a dozen would-be tacklers in his wake as he scorched in for a try in the right corner to again level the scores.

But for some outstanding tackling by a number of Loughrea players Buccs surely would have added to their tally sooner. Daniel Westman joined the fray and quickly scored a great try right of the post converted by Cunnane. Murray popped up for a try at the death under the posts by outstretched arm, making the conversion a formality.

This game was a bit of a slow burner for Buccs but once they got into their stride they were impressive in their endeavour, intensity and skill levels. This was another fine team performance, with every player involved contributing to this result. In the pack Jack Scouler had a particularly good day with some eye catching carries right at the heart of the Loughrea defence. He was ably assisted by Dean Buckley, Michael Lynch and Julian Devaney. In the backs Cunnane and Murray were to the fore but it was Slattery on the wing, with ball in hand, who created the greatest buzz of excitement, his darting mazy runs a joy to behold.

BUCCANEERS:- Jack Martin, Eabhan Sleatory, Shane Green, Diarmuid Glynn, Darragh Murray, Shane Cunnane, Conor Larkin, Kevin Horan, Dean Buckley, Ruaidhri Campion, Julian Devaney, Billy Dalton, Ethan Connolly, Michael Lynch (captain), Jack Scouler,. Replacements:-  Fergus O’Sullivan, Faolan Kennedy, Vicente Gaetani, Daniel Westman,  Leo MacFarlane, Eoin Slevin and Scott Ward.

BUCCANEERS 19  GALWEGIANS 0

BUCCANEERS put in a tremendous team performance to defeat Galwegians 19-0 in the Connacht U-14 League semi-final at Dubarry Park on Saturday. Wearing their new Direct Medical sponsored kit, Buccs advanced to meet the winners of Corinthians v Sligo in the final. An outstanding display by John Tumulty ensured he was a worthy ‘Player of the Match’.

BUCCS HOME TO QUINS AS U-20s FACE U.L.BOHS

BUCCANEERS resume All-Ireland League action when they entertain Belfast Harlequins in the Ulster Bank League at Dubarry Park, Athlone, on Saturday. Kick off for this Division 1B game is 2.30 p.m.

Buccs made a bright start to the league when they overcame the northerners 29-21 in the opening round and enjoyed a decent run of results until suffering back to back losses in their last two outings. The defeat at UL Bohs was understandable with a greatly depleted and inexperienced squad. However, the home loss to leaders Terenure College was quite disappointing, even allowing for absentees, as Buccs lacked composure and energy in a game they could certainly have won. In the interim, Corinthians and U.L. Bohemian have leap-frogged the Athlone club and it is imperative that Buccs return to winning ways on Saturday.

Shane Layden, Conor Finn, Steve Macauley, David Heffernan, Danny Qualter, Rory Moloney and Shane Casey all featured for Connacht Eagles who defeated Llanelli in the British & Irish Cup last weekend. Hopefully, these players will have come through unscathed and will be available for the Athlone side, although Jack Carty could be involved with Connacht.  Quins are lying in mid-table and are a team capable of putting a string of wins together. But if Buccs are focussed, aggressive and committed, then they can account for the Ulster side.

BUCCANEERS U-20s can be sure of another searching test of their potential when they take on U.L.Bohemian in the South-West Conference League at Dubarry Park on Saturday. This Division One game has a 2.30 p.m. start. Buccs have a tidy, well balanced squad this season that is not dependent on just a few performers. They will likely be without Jacob Walshe and Rory Moloney for this test while Sean Doyle is an injury doubt. However, Saba Meunargia, Josh O’Rourke and Evan Galvin can be counted on to battle in the forwards trenches while Tom Finucane, Ricky Dixon and Ben Carty have potential aplenty in a lively and enterprising backline. This should be a cracking contest and it is a pity that kick off clashes with the Senior game.

BUCCANEERS SECONDS are home to Monivea Reserves in the Connacht Junior 1B League at Dubarry Park on Sunday, kick off 2.30 p.m. Buccs will be keen to build on the momentum gathering on the back of recent fine victories. Provided they are not complacent, the Pirates have the wherewithal to keep in the play-off hunt.

4 BUCCS PLAYERS IN IRELAND SQUADS

Four Buccaneers players have been named in Ireland squads, two apiece in both the U-20s and an extended Senior panel. Jacob Walshe and Rory Moloney were named in a 28-man squad for Ireland’s opening U-20 match against Scotland in Dubarry Park, Athlone, on Friday week, January 31st. Rodney Ah You was a surprise inclusion in the Senior listing where he joins clubmate Robbie Henshaw. Congrats and good luck to all four players.

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