RESOUNDING WIN FOR BUCCANEERS

 

RUGBY with MICHAEL SILKE

 

BUCCANEERS 50  DUNGANNON 7

 


BUCCANEERS returned to winning ways with a vengeance when they walloped understrength Dungannon 50-7 in their Ulster Bank League Division 1B game played under the Dubarry Park, Athlone, floodlights on Saturday night. Stung by their final kick defeat last time out (and also a slip up the previous season to another depleted Dungannon outfit), the Pirates were in the mood to quickly get back on track as they ran in a ‘magnificent seven’ tries.

 

BuccCaptain 350Buccs made five changes for this Hodson Bay Group sponsored fixture. Injury ruled out Garreth Halligan and Rory Moloney, being replaced by David Heffernan and Shane Casey respectively. Eoin McKeon debuted at No.8 with Luke Satchwell switching to flanker and Conor Kindregan rested. In the backline, Tiernan O’Halloran returned at fullback and Steve Macauley on the wing with Callum Boland and Shane Layden on the bench as coach Tony Dolan rotated his squad. Ulster calls really weakened the northerners and Adam Macklin, coming back after injury, was their only provincial representative on duty while club president Paul Magee returned to a previous role in the centre!

On a lovely calm night, conditions were near perfect for Buccs fluid style and they began at a high tempo that Dungannon could never match. However, churlish though it may seem in light of the final tally, the Pirates would have scored even more had they not tried to play at 100 mph for large swathes of this one-sided encounter. Although camped in Gannon territory for virtually all of the opening half, it took Buccs until the 36th minute to breach the visitors’ line when Heffernan profited from a fine James Tormey break and off-load. Hurried passes featured in the second period also when more poise and accuracy would surely have yielded further tries against a game but, on this occasion, outclassed Dungannon side.

A wild pass straight into touch missed two overlapping Buccs players before they opened their scoring with a 10th minute Jack Carty penalty. Dungannon lock John Joe Kane was yellow-carded for some lazy covering after only 13 minutes and the visitors had a second player Glen Sinnamon somewhat harshly join his colleague in the sin bin minutes later. Carty tagged on a brace of penalties either side of this while a forward pass denied McKeon (one of eleven former Ireland U-20s in the home panel) a try on his debut. Carty did not convert the opening try but made it four successful penalties in the first half when, with the final act of this period, he stretched Buccs advantage to 17-0 at the break.

A knock-on denied a gilt-edged home try opportunity moments after the restart but smart handling on 47 minutes yielded a fine Conor Finn try. Buccs were now able to introduce Layden, Diarmuid Higgins and Kolo Kiripati from their bench before a sizzling Macauley break almost got him to the line but Satchwell was as ever up in support to grab a 50th minute try. Layden denied Dungannon a rare scoring chance but from an offside position and thus he visited the sin bin. But still the tries mounted for the Pirates. As the game entered the final quarter, Macauley made a scintillating break to notch the bonus point try on the right.

Danny Qualter and Casey combined well down the right flank to make good ground in the build up to Satchwell’s second try after 66 minutes. Boland entered the fray as did Rory Grenham, making his Senior debut with 12 minutes remaining. Dungannon struggled manfully to stem the Pirates onslaught and they finally got some reward for their endeavours when Mark Faloon blocked Layden’s chip to off-load to Gareth McGonagle who steamed in for a 75th minute try which Stuart McCloskey converted. However, Buccaneers had the final say when another sweeping attack was finished off by Billy Henshaw in the final move of the game. Carty converted five of the six second half tries in a 20 points haul to complete the 50-7 scoreline in favour of the midlanders. 

The exciting Macauley was named AUDI ATHLONE Man of the Match, an accolade that Mark Dolan too could have merited. This was an exhilarating all-round team display by Buccaneers with tempo and enterprise aplenty that could have been near perfect had the Pirates been a little more measured in their efforts and sharper in their handling on occasion. Centre McCloskey was Dungannon’s most impressive contributor.

BUCCANEERS:-  T.O’Halloran; B.Henshaw, C.Finn, A.Hayman (captain), S.Macauley; J.Carty, M.Dolan; M.Staunton, D.Heffernan, P.Reilly; J.Tormey, D.Qualter; S.Casey, L.Satchwell and E.McKeon. Replacements:- S.Layden (for Henshaw, 45 mins), D.Higgins (for Reilly, 45 mins), K.Kiripati (for Tormey, 48 mins), C.Boland (for Macauley, inj. 65 mins),  R.Grenham (for Heffernan, 68 mins), P.Reilly (for Staunton, 68 mins) and D.Heffernan (for Satchwell, inj. 73 mins).

DUNGANNON:-  C.Henderson; C.McCartney, P.Magee, S.McCloskey, M.Faloon; G.McGonagle, J.Bates (captain); G.Sinnamon, S.Potter, A.Macklin; J.J.Kane, P.McCallan; S.Todd, M.Allister and P.Smith. Replacements:- J.Miller (for P.Smith, temp. 23/33 mins), B.Davidson (for Todd, 53 mins), T.Smith (for Allister, 53 mins), J.Finlay (for P.Smith, inj. 65 mins) and A.Lee (for Bates, 75 mins).

Referee:- Brian MacNeice (IRFU).

 

BUCCANEERS 30 BALLYHAUNIS 14

 

A splendid first half display by Buccaneers Seconds laid the foundation for an impressive 30-14 Heineken Connacht Junior Cup victory over Ballyhaunis at bitterly cold Dubarry Park on Friday night.  In the freezing conditions, this game was switched to the centre pitch where a Buccs unit, boosted by some livewire U-20s (whose game away to Sundays Well was called off at a very late stage), were just too slick for the gritty visitors.

 

In the opening play, Buccs were awarded a penalty on halfway which Ben Carty punted to the left and, from the ensuing lineout, the homesters mauled their way over the Ballyhaunis line for a Sean Byrne try with less than two minutes played. Carty added a penalty shortly afterwards but Ballyhaunis, who are second in the league table, responded with a 17th minute Pat Gallagher try at the posts. Fintan Crawley’s conversion reduced the arrears to 8-7.

Buccaneers retorted with a superb counter attack by Paul Harte that set up Ross Enraght-Moony’s 25th minute try. Sean Byrne was driven over the visitors’ line shortly afterwards but no try was awarded. However, the hosts did not have to wait too long for their third try when centre Harte made a stunning break for a 34th minute try which Carty converted. Just before half-time, Seamus Horan was yellow carded for a high tackle and Carty cheekily tapped the resultant penalty to notch a smart try that left Buccs 25-7 ahead at the break.

Within two minutes of the restart, Harte was again tormenting the visitors with another sniping break and Carty changed the direction of this attack to link up with Brendan Fagan who did well to hold the pass and beat the cover for a try on the left. Buccs unloaded their bench, a shade prematurely perhaps, shortly afterwards just before Smirkovas Mantas barged through for a 52nd minute try which Crawley converted. Injury to substitute Harry Hughes meant Buccs played the final 25 minutes with only 14 players. Ballyhaunis sought to take advantage of this but a sustained defiant home effort, in which Cian Romaine and Killian O’Shea were outstanding, held their line intact as Buccs advance to an away joust against Ballinasloe in the next round.

BUCCANEERS:-  D.Fagan; D.Byrne, P.Harte, D.Griffiths (captain), C.O’Reilly; B.Carty, R.O’Reilly; L.Doran, N.Flynn, K.O’Shea; S.Byrne, R.Byrne; C.Romaine, L.Walsh and B.Fagan. Replacements:- R.Enraght-Moony (for Walsh, inj. 22 mins), G.Costello (for Carty, 47 mins), H.Hughes (for C.O’Reilly, 47 mins), S.Flynn (for Byrne, 50 mins) and K.Grehan (for Enraght-Moony, inj. 50 mins).

BALLYHAUNIS:-  F.Kelly; D.Morley, S.Mantas, S.Horan, D.Byrne; G.Gallagher, C.McDermott; G.Delaney, B.Waldron, D.Jordan; A.Gleeson, V.Moran; S.McKay, P.Gallagher and F.Crawley. Replacements:- D.Lilly, E.Durkin, R.Lilly, R.Duffy and D.Murphy.

Referee:- Emmet Dormer (Connacht).   

 

BUCCANEERS 25  WESTPORT 8

 

BUCCANEERS THIRDS moved to the top of the Connacht J2 League when defeating Westport 25-8 at Dubarry Park, Athlone, on Sunday. This 12 noon showdown was tightly contested in the opening half but, thereafter, Buccs upped the ante to take a firm grip on the proceedings and push on for a richly deserved victory.

 

The Westport pack posed problems for the Athlone outfit, who were missing the talismanic Darren Costello through injury, in the first half but Ger Fallon stepped into the place-kicking breach with aplomb. He landed a pair of penalties to give Buccs a 6-0 lead at the interval. After the oranges, the forwards won the lion’s share of ball while the backline clicked. Flying winger Jack O’Connor notched a brace of tries and Keith Grehan finished off a pushover drive for Buccs third touchdown. Fallon added two conversions to complete the 25-8 winning margin. O’Connor really caught the eye and Fallon did well also in the backline while Grehan made a storming contribution in the forwards battle where substitute Conor Galvin also contributed notably.

BUCCANEERS:-  B.Walsh; J.O’Connor, K.Turley, J.Shaughnessy, R.Sweeney; G.Fallon, N.Hyland; K.Langdon, K.Grehan, A.Daly; V.McGrath, R.Reid; M.Lyons, P.Kennedy and P.Hennessy. Replacements:- P.Rikadze, C.Galvin, N.Purcell, O.Flaherty, C.Shanley and L.Didebashvilli.

 

BUCCS AWAY TO BLACKROCK

BUCCANEERS next two Ulster Bank League matches are both away from home with a trip to tackle Blackrock College at Stradbrook next Saturday, kick off 2.30 p.m. Rock won at Malone in a high-scoring encounter last weekend and will be boosted by this result. This was only their second victory in the current campaign which began with a commendable away win at Shannon.  Mark Scott-Lennon is their main threat while Rob Keogh is a fine place-kicker. However, if Buccs can play with the panache of last week but be more clinical in this Division 1B encounter, then they can continue their decent record at the south Dublin venue.

BUCCANEERS WOMEN are scheduled to face Co.Carlow/Carlow I.T. in the Womens All-Ireland League Division 2 Central in Carlow on Sunday. This will prove another searching test for the Athlone ladies as they bid to get their season back on track.

BUCCANEERS SECONDS square up to Ballyhaunis at Dubarry Park for the second week running, this time when the clubs clash in the Connacht Junior 1B League. Buccs will be hopeful of building on last week’s Cup success, particularly as a home win would elevate the Pirates above their rivals at the business end of the league table. Ballyhaunis are physically strong but Buccs possess the greater pace and potency which they must capitalise on.

CHRISTMAS SHOP

Solve your Christmas gift problems by visiting Buccaneers Shop where you can purchase replica gear such as Jerseys, Hoodies, Caps, Kitbags, etc. More stock is due in before the festive season. The shop is open on Saturday mornings at the Lower Deck area in The Bounty. Orders/enquiries to Jacqui Pears at 0851133806.

 

CONDOLENCES

Deepest sympathy is extended to Mary and Paul Connellan and the Gibbons family, Ballinasloe, on the recent death of Mary’s father Godfrey. Condolences also to Nikki McFadden, TD., and family on the passing of her father Brendan.

 

MEMBERSHIP SUBSCRIPTIONS

All Membership Subscription should be paid by now. If you have not paid your Sub yet, please do so this week. Any players who have not paid their membership subscription by this coming weekend will not be eligible for selection on club teams as and from the following weekend. If everyone pays their fair share, then hopefully subscription rates could be reduced further next year.

 

20 SECONDS FROM BEING LEGENDS

Travelling to the Aviva Stadium on Sunday, the best hopes (not overly convincing) were for an uplifting Ireland display, a collective performance that would restore pride and, hopefully, a relatively (in terms of playing New Zealand) narrow defeat. For any of that to happen, it was crucial that Ireland snaffle an early score – or two. Who could have foreseen a 19-0 home lead by the end of the opening quarter. Three rousing tries by Conor Murray, Rory Best and David Kearney. Magic stuff! The All Blacks pilfered a try before half-time but Ireland still led promisingly 22-7 at the interval.

Richie McCaw was rattled and Nigel Owens was not allowing him to get his own usual way, even after a “chat” as the referee emerged for the second half! A memorable contest continued to unfold in the second half with Ireland giving as good as they got, but they just could not get one more score. The best chance fell to Jonathan Sexton but he took far too long over a late penalty that would surely have ensured history was made and he squandered the opportunity that, at this level, looked straight-forward.

Meanwhile, the All Blacks proved their merit as World Champions by remaining calm and maintaining their focus. They gradually whittled Ireland’s lead, albeit they too found the scores hard to come by in an electric atmosphere (comparable only to Ireland’s match against England at Croke Park). Yet Ireland seemed to be on track for a historic first ever victory over the Kiwis when they put the ball up their collective jerseys for the final two minutes until a knock-on gave the visitors possession with just 20 seconds remaining on the clock. The All Blacks were 65 metres from the home line but they silenced the crowd with a thrilling counter-attack to level and then absolutely deflated home supporters when the conversion earned New Zealand a memorable 24-22 win that completed a 100% success rate.

The greatest Ireland player I have ever seen play, Brian O’Driscoll, will alas now never savour victory over the All Blacks. From an Athlone perspective, great to see Robbie Henshaw involved in the pre-match warm-up although Buccaneers can take a little consolation in the contribution to New Zealand by Beuden Barrett, who played Minis rugby in the club for a season while his father Kevin ‘Smiley’ Barrett played at lock for the Pirates.

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