DOLPHIN recorded their first home win of the season when they came from behind to pip Buccaneers 24-23 in their Ulster Bank League Division 1B game played at Irish Independent Park, Cork, on Saturday. In a match played in balmy sunshine and on a topclass surface, Buccs will rue not translating another promising lead into victory for the third time this season. Naivety, lack of concentration and a growing number of minor errors all culminated in the Pirates departing Cork with a mere losing bonus point.

The Pirates made three changes with Ronan Farrell coming in to the backrow in place of the injured Kolo Kiripati as Stephen McVeigh switched to No.8. Scott Flanagan made his first start at hooker while Conor McKeon returned at outhalf in the perfect conditions. Buccs began strongly in a lively encounter and, following a superb maul after a lineout 22 metres from the home line, McKeon switched the attack from left to right where Rory O’Connor claimed the diagonal kick to surge over for an 8th minute try which McKeon did well to convert. Six minutes later Danny Qualter won possession in midfield and, following the deftest of offloads by Martin Staunton, winger Eoghan O’Reilly went scampering down the left flank for an unconverted try for the midlanders. McKeon’s conversion attempt shaved the wrong side of the near upright.

Crucially, in between these scores, Dolphin gave Rory Scannell an early introduction and, although Buccs stretched their lead to 15-0 after 26 minutes when McKeon punished the hosts with a penalty after Michael Mannion was tackled in the air, Scannell’s arrival had a pronounced effect on the outcome. The Corkonians were at sixes and sevens in the opening quarter but he steadily reorganised them and added a considerable threat from placekicks and also with ball in hand.

Indeed following a powerful Scannell break, Graham Lynch displayed his naivety for the second game in succession when again being sin binned. Six minutes before halftime the young scrumhalf needlessly slowed possession and Scannell opened Dolphin’s account with the resultant penalty. This gave the homesters a much-needed lift and, in the final move of the half, Shane McAuliffe spliced through much too easily from 30 metres for a fine try at the posts. Scannell’s conversion narrowed Dolphin’s arrears to 15-10 at the break, despite his side having been well outplayed for large swathes of that first half.

Dolphin were rejuvenated on the restart and now attacked with a purpose and commitment that had been lacking in the opening period. Within three minutes the sides were level, Cian Bohane finishing off early pressure for an unconverted try wide on the left. Buccs paid dearly for their yellow card, conceding 15 points in that spell, and then Scannell landed a 45th minute penalty to put the hosts 18-15 ahead after Dolphin had squandered an overlap.

Buccs forced themselves back into the contest and some terrific play took them to 12 metres from the home line where, straight in front of the posts, Barry Fitzgerald came offside to disrupt possession and with it the real promise of a seven-pointer for the Athlone side. Infuriatingly for the Pirates’ supporters, although Mark Connolly awarded a penalty for this calculated infringement, the referee showed bewildering inconsistency when not showing a yellow card to the home flanker! McKeon’s conversion of the resultant penalty to tie the scores 18-18 with half an hour remaining was less than Buccs merited from this attack.

However, just two minutes later, Dolphin regained the lead with vocal home supporters perhaps prompting that a tackle by McVeigh on Scannell was late. The young Munster player accepted the opportunity to drill the penalty over from the much more favourable position where the ball had landed. Buccs too were creating chances but McKeon then missed a kickable penalty before over-hitting another long one for touch either side of the hour mark.

Scrums were uncontested in the final stages but Buccaneers regained the lead eight minutes from time when, after Saba Meunargia had made terrific yardage with a powerful charge, McKeon punted a teasingly angled grubber kick to which Callum Boland won the race to touch down wide on the left for a clever but unconverted try. However, the Pirates promptly conceded a soft penalty when not rolling away on their own 22 and Scannell’s 75th minute placekick squeezed inside an upright for the winning score on a 24-23 margin.

Buccs nodded off, not for the first time this season, in the mid portion of this entertaining joust and their tempo was perhaps not helped by quite a number of stoppages for attention to home players in both halves. They lacked authority at halfback and did not maintain their focus for the full game, with work rate and intensity dropping either side of halftime. O’Reilly was pick of the Buccs backline where O’Connor notched his fifth AIL try of the season while Rory Moloney and Qualter were best of the Pirates forwards. Buccaneers will, frustratingly, look on this as another win that got away. Meanwhile, Dolphin will be grateful for the leadership and contribution made by the impressive Scannell who lit up this encounter and Bohane also did well for the southerners.

DOLPHIN:- S.McAuliffe; W.Hanly, R.O’Sullivan, C.Bohane, R.Reardon; C.McGovern, D.Foley; J.Leahy, D.Byrne, K.O’Halloran; C.Rowe (captain), D.O’Mahony; R.O’Herlihy, B.Fitzgerald and J.Fitzgerald. Replacements:- R.Scannell (for McGovern, 10 mins), R.O’Reilly (for O’Halloran, 12 mins), K.Allen (for B.Fitzgerald, 27 mins), C.McGovern (for Scannell, 27 mins), R.Scannell (for O’Sullivan, 30 mins), K.O’Halloran (for O’Reilly, 30 mins), A.Mason (for Byrne, 30 mins), B.Fitzgerald (for J.Fitzgerald, 30 mins), R.O’Sullivan (for ?) and K.O’Keeffe.

BUCCANEERS:- C.Boland; R.O’Connor, A.Gaughan, B.Carty, E.O’Reilly; C.McKeon, G.Lynch; J.Walshe, S.Flanagan, M.Staunton (captain); M.Mannion, D.Qualter; R.Farrell, R.Moloney and S.McVeigh. Replacements:- S.Meunargia (for Staunton, 48 mins), G.Halligan (for Flanagan, 48 mins), B.Corcoran (for Carty, 52 mins), C.Romaine (for Mannion, 55 mins), M.Staunton (for Walshe, 70 mins) and A.Hayman (for McKeon, 76 mins).

REFEREE:- M.Connolly (IRFU).


BUCCANEERS SECONDS really clicked as they pounded their Corinthians counterparts 79-3 in their Connacht Junior 1A League meeting at sunny Corinthian Park, Clounacauneen, on Sunday. Buccs hit the ground running against a weak home squad to finally get momentum into their campaign at this level.

This was a terrific all-round team performance with the tight five dominant and the back row trio in a different class to the westerners. Buccs utterly dominated scrums and lineouts, with overall attitude and workrate being first rate. David Fagan had another excellent outing at fly-half and wily Alex Hayman marshalled the backline, where Brannagh Corcoran made a noticeable impact on his introduction to good effect. The pack welcomed returns by James Tormey and Evan Galvin, the latter being the outstanding performer on the pitch.

Paul Gallogly led the try count with a hat-trick with Fagan, Galvin, Hayman and Barra Flynn getting a brace apiece. Ruairi Byrne also dotted down while Ger Fallon contributed a trio of conversions. Fagan completed the tally with a penalty and five conversions.

BUCCANEERS:- D.Griffith; J.Lopez, A.Hayman, S.Flynn, B.Walsh; D.Fagan, G.Fallon; K.Grehan, R.Grenham, T.Thompson; R.Byrne, J.Tormey; B.Farrell, E.Galvin and P.Gallogly. Replacements used:- S.Byrne, B.Corcoran, S.McCormack and M.Lyons.


BUCCANEERS WOMENS side put in a good all-round team contribution for a comfortable 34-0 Connacht Womens League victory over Sligo at Dubarry Park on Sunday. Played in decent conditions, the Buccs girls dictated the main portion of this contest between two squads who are currently rebuilding.

‘Newbies’ Alex Hennessy, Heather Sheridan and Judy Dowling did very well for the winners who had a key contribution from scrumhalf Sandra Griffin. Niamh Ni Dhroma led the scoring with a try and two conversions. Griffin, Dowling, Sheridan, Sarah Kelly and Hazel Kilduff also touched down for the Pirates.

BUCCANEERS:- N.Gough; E.O’Brien, H.Kilduff, M.Murphy, J.Dowling; N.Ni Dhroma, S.Griffin; S.Kelly, M.Kiripati, C.Mannion; L.Stuart-Trainor, D.Cromar; H.Sheridan, A.Hennessy and T.Kiernan. Replacements used:- M.McLoughlin, S.Fitzpatrick, T.Finnerty and G.Kostanynn.


Despite another gutsy display, Buccaneers Thirds came up short against Ballinrobe by 29-0 in their Connacht Junior 1C League meeting at Dubarry Park on Sunday. The home outfit had just two backs who played last week and five forwards in a greatly changed squad. Nevertheless, they willingly contested to the bitter end against a side currently topping this league table.

Again it was a chequered collection fielded by Buccs with possibly the shortest second row pairing and a vintage duo on the wings. Mossy Turley played a stormer at No.8 and Niall Flynn also put in a huge effort from the back row. Debutant Rob Kerslake oozed promise at halfback where his partner Bobby Pears also did well. Centre Karl Turley was another to do well with Rory Silke endeavouring to roll back the years on the wing while substitute Paddy Browne also enjoyed some good moments. Micky Carroll and the players are to be complimented on their efforts that, with a modest amount of time and work on the training paddock, could reap better rewards.

BUCCANEERS:- G.Walsh; L.Didebashvili, K.Turley, D.Mannion, R.Silke; R.Kerslake, B.Pears; I.Tuimauga, A.Daly, P.Rikadze; C.Shanley, T.Couper; N.Flynn, R.Browne and T.Turley. Replacement:- P.Browne.


Buccaneers are home to joint leaders Ballymena on Saturday with this much-anticipated Ulster Bank League Division 1B game kicking off under the Dubarry Park floodlights at 7.30 p.m. Ballymena lost for the first time last weekend to St. Mary’s College while Buccs will be keen to return to winning ways in what should be a very good match which will be sponsored by the Hodson Bay Hotel group.

Ballymena have been running up decent scores as have the Pirates so the scoreboard operator could be kept busy! Centres Callum Patterson and particularly the physical Rodger McBurney will pose a threat for hosts. Half backs Richie McMaster and Jonny Creighton are two accomplished operators. The Braidmen have a sizeable pack with locks Alan O’Connor and David Whann being key in this sector. Bryan Young is a very solid prop who could have John Andrew or Ulster U-20 captain Adam McBurney alongside him at hooker while No.8 Matthew Rea is well capable of notching a try.

Buccs, of course, have been accumulating tries aplenty too and on occasion have been a shade unlucky not to secure more try bonus points. Rory O’Connor is their leading try-scorer with ten for the season to date, half of these being scored in the AIL. The elusive Eoghan O’Reilly is another who can create havoc while Alan Gaughan too can poach a score. Conor McKeon was a little below his usually high level at Dolphin and Graham Lynch needs to be more assertive but these young players are still on a learning curve in controlling matches.

There is youth aplenty in the home pack too and they will be called upon to front up from start to finish in this test. Danny Qualter has been steadily approaching top form and Stephen McVeigh, Jacob Walshe and Rory Moloney are durable but mobile and crafty forwards. Head Coach Brett Wilkinson may be tempted to make some changes for this crunch tie but they are likely to be minimal as Buccs have not been too far off from winning all their opening fixtures. They can prevail here provided they tighten up a bit more defensively.


U18 Girls team named to face Ulster