BUCCS PIPPED AT THE POST IN THRILLING DERBY

 

RUGBY with MICHAEL SILKE

 

CORINTHIANS 19   BUCCANEERS 18

 

BUCCANEERS 100% winning sequence came to a controversial end when Galway Corinthians pipped the Pirates with the final kick of a splendid contest to win their Ulster Bank League Division 1B encounter 19-18 at Corinthian Park, Clounacauneen, on Friday night.  The two Connacht teams aspiring to top this division drew the largest crowd to a club game in the province for quite some time to the Tuam Road venue for this hugely anticipated derby clash. The home win meant Corinthians led the league overnight prior to Terenure College’s victory on Saturday.

 

Both teams fielded in strength with quite a number of Connacht A players included in each line-up, the hosts starting ex-Bucc Denis Buckley among their notables.  Jack Carty at standoff, Peter Reilly at tight-head and Billy Henshaw on the right wing were the Athlone outfit’s starting changes from their memorable win over Shannon. Pre-match rain resulted in a damp sward but the night remained dry if cold.

The scrum was to be an area of major contest and an early penalty award here to the visitors was immediately sent over by Carty while Sean O’Hagan missed a penalty at scrumtime shortly afterwards.  Both teams went at each other with gusto with the Buccs defence resisting the westerners to go on the counter. A great Carty run set up a ruck from which Shane Layden caught Mark Dolan’s perfectly judged diagonal kick to the corner for a well-executed try that was not converted.

Injuries were now emerging as a factor for Buccs with Garreth Halligan (20 minutes) and Peter Reilly (27 minutes) having to be replaced by David Heffernan and Diarmuid Higgins respectively. This eventually heralded a loss of competitiveness in the scrum particularly when Danny Qualter too had to go off five minutes before half-time. His replacement Shane Casey was, in his over-enthusiasm, swiftly yellow carded for disrupting the ball at a ruck. Nevertheless, Buccs added to their tally before the interval with Carty kicking over a lengthy penalty to put the midlanders 11-0 ahead at the break.

Corinthians restarted in storming fashion, forcing Buccs on to the back foot and opened their account with an O’Hagan penalty. The homesters endeavoured to keep the ball alive as much as possible but Buccaneers defence, although tending to drop back too deeply, was not breached until close to the three-quarters stage when Finn Gormley finished off a move for a try in the left corner. O’Hagan’s conversion cut Buccs advantage to a single point, 11-10 ahead.

Buccs hit back with a vengeance, led by Carty’s commanding influence, and the outhalf flighted a terrific crossfield kick that was collected by Layden who, under pressure, passed to Henshaw who surged in for a try which Carty converted. A brace of O’Hagan penalties narrowed Corinthians’ arrears to 18-16 before Rory Moloney, who was having a stellar performance especially in attack where he made a significant contribution to Buccs’ second try, fell victim to the fickleness of the referee. The teenager was sin-binned for not binding at a scrum and another yellow was flashed at Buccaneers by the match official when Casey was sin-binned for the second time, being deemed not to have released Denis Buckley in the tackle in the home half.

With a two-man advantage, Corinthians now threw everything at Buccaneers but the visitors’ defence coped admirably until a couple of further officiating decisions fuelled their ire. Deep in added time, Buccs interpreted a message that the game was in it’s final move and kicked the ball dead only for the referee to further continue play. From the resultant lineout, Corinthians were awarded a hotly-disputed penalty. Denis Buckley was again in the thick of the action, lying on the ball and Layden came straight through the ruck to compete. Travelling supporters anticipated a relieving and match-winning penalty but the referee ruled otherwise, deeming that Layden came in from the side! O’Hagan, cool and calm beyond his years, accepted the responsibility like a veteran and steered the difficult kick in both range and angle between the uprights to pip Buccs at the post.

It was a hard-fought but sporting duel and Buccaneers were gutted by the home side’s last gasp and often unlikely-looking win. There was wonderful defence displayed by both sides. Dolan and Carty took the primary honours for Buccs with Layden also prominent in the backline where Henshaw and Conor Finn showed flashes at times. The fledgling Moroney continues to have an increasing impact in a pack that worked hard against a determined opposition unit. James Tormey and Martin Staunton battled hardest but injuries impacted and gradually Buccs were playing more on the back foot in the second half. Eoghan Masterson and Joey Merrigan excelled for the winners with Finlay Bealham another forward to shine. Skipper Gormley led by example and received notable assistance from fellow backs James Buckley and Mickey Murphy, the latter being a significant influence when introduced.

Although bitterly disappointed to lose, particularly the controversial manner of this defeat, a totally committed team effort yielded a losing bonus point that keeps Buccs in third position. The Pirates will, in time, surely relish tackling the same opposition on home soil at a stage that could be a crucial encounter for either of these skilful rivals. Roll on St. Patrick’s weekend!

CORINTHIANS:-  D.Panther; D.Claasen, J.Buckley, F.Gormley (captain), I.Venter; S.O’Hagan, M.Walsh; D.Buckley, J.Merrigan, F.Bealham; G.Warde, U.Dillane; D.Phelan, J.Connolly and E.Masterson.  Replacements:- M.Murphy (for Walsh, h/t), J.Burns, M.Byrne, T.Toolan and P.Noone.

 

BUCCANEERS:-  C.Boland; B.Henshaw, C.Finn, A.Hayman (captain), S.Layden; J.Carty, M.Dolan; M.Staunton, G.Halligan, P.Reilly; J.Tormey, D.Qualter; C.Kindregan, R.Moloney and L.Satchwell.  Replacements:- D.Heffernan (for Halligan, inj. 20 mins), D.Higgins (for Reilly, inj. 27 mins), S.Casey (for Qualter, inj. 35 mins), S.Macauley (for Finn, 55 mins) and E.O’Reilly.

 

REFEREE:-  Dave O’Flynn (IRFU).                             

 

HIGHFIELD 5  BUCCANEERS 45

 

BUCCANEERS U-20s turned on the style to inflict a 45-5 South-West Conference Division One League defeat on hosts Highfield at Woodleigh Park, Cork, on Saturday. Conditions were wet and dreary but Buccs, despite losing Terry Hynes to injury in the warm-up, fielded their strongest side to date as they notched up their third straight win and joint leadership with UCC in Division One.

 

Buccs hit the ground running, despite the miserable conditions, and Ricky Dixon and Cian Romaine got close to the home line before the visitors opened the scoring. Ben Carty opted for touch with a kickable 9th minute penalty to the right flank and, following the lineout, Dixon sucked in the cover to send Sean Dempsey in for a try which Carty converted. A close affair looked in prospect when Highfield replied with an Aidan Johnson try almost immediately but Eoghan O’Reilly caught a home chip over the cover to launch a counter attack that was carried on by Ross Enraght-Moony  before play was switched to the right where Brian Gilligan got in for a 23rd minute try converted by Carty.

Five minutes later, O’Reilly had another snipe and linked up with Harry Hughes whose kick ahead was finished off by Sean Doyle for an unconverted try. The exciting Dixon broke from the back of a scrum to angle in for a cleverly-taken 34th minute try in the right corner. Carty’s conversion via an upright gave Buccs a commanding 26-5 halftime lead.

Within three minutes of the restart, Evan Galvin was romping in for a converted try and, nine minutes later, O’Reilly’s attack-minded style was rewarded with a try on the right after Buccs had won a lineout on the left. Carty’s conversion put Buccs 40-5 to the good and Buccs now utilised their bench while the homesters too took some remedial action that stemmed the tide somewhat as the game drifted to its end. The only other score of the final half-hour was Doyle’s second try on 73 minutes fashioned by a lovely break by the eager Dixon. Carty had a rare blemish to his near immaculate kicking when he sent this straight-forward conversion under the crossbar! However, Buccs were clearcut masters, securing a winning bonus point 45-5 win.

This was a splendid all-round team performance by Buccaneers with pint-sized pair Davis and O’Reilly causing regular palpitations to the Corkonians while Carty was another back who could be well pleased with his contribution. Josh O’Rourke and Sam McCormack were prominent in the forwards exchanges in which props Jacob Walshe and Saba Meunargia dominated while skipper Marc O’Connell offered most resistance at No.8 for Highfield.

BUCCANEERS:-  E.O’Reilly; B.Gilligan, S.Doyle, S.Dempsey, H.Hughes; B.Carty (captain), R.Davis; J.Walsh, C.McGrath, S.Meunargia; J.O’Rourke, C.Romaine; S.McCormack, R.Enraght-Moony and E.Galvin. Replacements:- C.Morrissey (for Galvin, inj.), C.Claffey (for Gilligan),  D.Kiely (for Enraght-Moony), P.McLoughlin (for McCormack).

 

HIGHFIELD:-  B.Murphy; M.Morris, D.Morrissey, C.Murphy, C.Lougheed; B.Hayes, A.Johnson; J.Sinnott, R.Steele, P.Lee; C.O’Connor, M.Mullane; J.ODonnell-Fitzgerald, C.Philpott and M.O’Connell (captain). Replacements used:- C.Touhy, D.O’Sullivan, E.Greene, M.O’Donnell-Fitzgerald, B.Sibiya and S.Tynan    

 

BUCCANEERS 13  LOUGHREA 10

 

BUCCANEERS SECONDS returned to winning ways when overcoming Loughrea 13-10 in their Connacht Junior 1B League tie at Dubarry Park on Sunday. This hard-earned victory over the bottom club on a damp, overcast afternoon moves the Pirates up to fourth place in the league table.

 

However, this Buccs squad should be capable of winning games more comfortably and they toiled somewhat again here. On this occasion, they can thank the endeavours of their backline for earning the spoils, particularly young outhalf Glen Costello who scored all the homesters’ points. The versatile and willing youngster kicked three penalties and capped a fine contribution with a neatly-taken try. David Fagan impressed at fullback while Dominic Griffiths, Paul Harte and Ray O’Reilly also enjoyed good moments.

BUCCANEERS:- D.Fagan; D.Byrne, P.Harte, D.Griffiths (captain), P.Hennessy; G.Costello, R.O’Reilly; L.Doran, R.Grenham, C.O’Shea; R.Byrne, S.Byrne; N.Flynn, L.Walsh and B.Fagan. Replacement used:- T.Thompson.

 

BUCCANEERS 14  CORINTHIANS 31

 

Champions Corinthians Thirds signalled their intent on retaining their Connacht J2 League title with an impressive 31-14 victory over main rivals Buccaneers Thirds when the sides met at Dubarry Park on Sunday. In testing conditions, the visitors maintained their grip at the top of the leaderboard while Buccs remain in third place.

 

Buccs were an unusually disjointed lot for this key fixture against a well-organised western outfit. With too many below par showings on the day, the Pirates failed to perform as anticipated and had to give second best to the visitors. Darren Costello kicked three penalties while Conor Galvin grabbed a try for Buccs for whom Robert Reid and Mark Tormey made the most impression.

BUCCANEERS:-  M.Tormey;  K.Kennedy, B.Walsh, M.Lyons, J.Lopez; D.Costello (captain), N.Purcell; A.Daly, K.Grehan, P.Rikadze; V.McGrath, G.Kenny; G.Glynn, R.Reid and C.Galvin. Replacement used:- L.Didebashvili.

 

FIXTURES

Following a long trip to Cork last weekend, BUCCANEERS U-20s face their lengthiest journey of the season when they head south-east to Waterford to tackle Waterpark in the South-West Conference League Division One on Saturday, kick off 2.30 p.m. Waterpark currently lie second from bottom with a draw their only positive result to date. Buccs should continue their promising start but must guard against complacency as the home side is in dire need of ekeing out a first victory. However, the midlanders should be able to field a reasonably strong squad and, if they come close to repeating last Saturday’s performance, they should prove too strong for Waterpark.

BUCCANEERS WOMEN are on the road too travelling to Co. Wicklow to face Rathdrum in the Womens All-Ireland League Division 2 Central on Sunday, kick off 1 p.m. Rathdrum pipped the Pirate ladies by a solitary point in Buccs AIL debut, a game the Athlone girls lost due to a late, late try in a prolonged period of added time. Buccs have struggled for consistency due to a lengthy list of absentees for one reason or another. But, if they could muster a settled side, they are capable to turning their bad luck around.

Meanwhile, Connacht entertain Leinster in a Womens Interpro at Dubarry Park, Athlone, on Wednesday night. Kick off for this friendly is 8 p.m.

MEMBERSHIP SUBSCRIPTIONS DUE

All players and mentors are reminded that Membership Subscriptions should have been paid by the end of October. Some subs are still outstanding and should be paid forthwith. Meanwhile, all players should ensure that they have their own additional Insurance cover as appropriate for each individual. The club does not cover medical costs or loss of wages, etc.

 

YOUR CLUB YOUR COUNTRY   

The “Your Club, Your Country” draw organised by the IRFU takes place shortly. There is a terrific array of prizes on offer in this draw, including a trip for two to Argentina next summer to support the Ireland rugby team. Tickets cost just €10 each and the proceeds of all tickets sold by the club are retained in the club. So all players, committee members and others who have been allocated tickets are urged to return ALL tickets, ideally all sold, by next Tuesday, November 19th.

CONDOLENCES

Deepest sympathy is extended to the family of Mary (Maureen) Worley who died recently in Dublin. Ar dheis De a anam.

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