RUGBY with MICHAEL SILKE 

DUNGANNON 10  BUCCANEERS 38

A splendid second half display by Buccaneers earned them a clearcut 38-10 victory over Dungannon in their Ulster Bank League Division 1B encounter played in bright sunny conditions at Stevenson Park, Dungannon, on Saturday. The bonus point win moves the midlanders closer to second placed Corinthians whilst virtually condemning the Co. Tyrone club to relegation.

Buccs made four changes from the side that impressed in their defeat of Corinthians. James Tormey and Conor Kindregan, ruled out through injuries sustained in that win, being replaced by Ruairi Byrne and Sam McCormack respectively whilst Martin Staunton (who has played virtually every minute for Buccs this season) was rested with Jacob Walshe coming in at loosehead prop. Alex Hayman had been ill during the week and thus joined Staunton on the bench with Billy Henshaw returning on the wing and Shane Layden moving into the centre. Despite starting Ulster duo Peter Nelson and Adam Macklin, Dungannon were depleted with centre Stuart McCloskey called up by the province.

Nevertheless, the northerners made the early running, spurred on by a Jake Finlay penalty inside three minutes. Fighting for their Division 1B survival, they threw everything they could at the Pirates and should have had more to show for their efforts with Tim Smith coming closest after 10 minutes. But Buccs held their line intact with Jack Carty, Conor Finn and Henshaw all clearing under pressure before Callum Boland lifted the siege when finding a terrific touch to the left. With Garreth Halligan ever willing to carry, the midlanders made their first serious attack reap a dividend when Dungannon did not release in the tackle. Carty’s seemingly straight-forward penalty tap over from the 22 needed the help of an upright to level the scores on 16 minutes.

Buccs were a bit slipshod in the opening half while Dungannon, aided by the breeze, were fired up to compete. The beefier home pack regularly made life difficult for the visitors who gradually began to make inroads more frequently into the Ulster side’s half. Their best effort was just before half-time when a wonderful drive with Walshe in the vanguard being stopped inches from the line. As Buccs endeavoured to recycle, James Bates impeded from an offside position and the home captain was duly yellow carded. The Athlone side punted the resultant penalty to touch in the left corner but the lineout went awry and the sides remained tied 3-3 at the interval.

Now with the wind to their backs on the restart, Buccs looked a different outfit and quickly set about scoring. A Carty kick did not go as planned but Steve Macauley seized possession to counter and kick ahead. Dungannon got cover to the ball but Boland blocked an attempted clearance to pilfer possession and dot down in the left corner for Buccs first try after 43 minutes. Four minutes later, the fullback started a move that was carried on by Kolo Kiripati and, when the powerful Samoan received recycled possession, he rampaged forward for a wonderful try on the right as Dungannon paid dearly for their captain’s sin-binning, conceding 14 points in his absence.

Bates was barely back on the pitch when he was nailed by the hard-running Macauley to force a 53rd minute penalty on the left. Carty caught Dungannon off-guard when he quickly kicked a precise crossfield ball to Boland who ghosted in unopposed for a smartly executed try on the right. Tim Smith then got a block on a promising Buccs move but the burly No.8 did not have the pace to punish the visitors and Henshaw got back to avert the danger. Finn lifted a brief flurry of home possession in Buccs half and he had Layden in support to notch a bonus point try in a snappy 64th minute counter attack. Seven minutes from time, Cormac McCartney intercepted just inside the Buccs half and he strode in for a Dungannon try, converted by Finlay, that took the bad look off the scoreboard. However, Buccs had the final say when Macauley’s ceaseless running earned reward for the winger as he broke from halfway to score a try wide on the left. Carty converted all five tries, this one via an upright, and the outhalf’s kicking was excellent throughout.

Buccaneers gave a greatly improved performance in the second half, when their now more direct running was too much for the northerners to cope with. The Pirates pack had also sorted out their scrum difficulties at this stage while the hosts, gritty to the bitter end, just did not have the stamina or flair to match the midlanders for whom Carty, Boland, Halligan, Kiripati and substitute Diarmuid Higgins mainly caught the eye. It looks like relegation is now inevitable for Dungannon but this proud and welcoming club with excellent facilities will surely bounce back.

 DUNGANNON:-  J.Finlay; D.Simpson, P.Nelson, M.Faloon, J.Ravey; C.McCartney, J.Bates (captain); G.Sinnamon, P.Jackson, A.Macklin; J.J.Kane, D.Irwin; S.Todd, D.Leyburn and T.Smith. Replacements:- P.Smith (for Todd, inj. 22 mins), P.McCallon (for Kane, h/t), G.Sinnamon (for S.Sinnamon, h/t),  C.Cousens (for T.Smith, 41 mins), T.Smith (for Cousens, 48 mins), D.Maxwell (for T.Smith, 60 mins), C.Cousens (for Simpson, 61 mins), G.Sinnamon (for Macklin, 66 mins), T.Smith (for Jackson, 70 mins), D.Simpson (for Nelson, 75 mins) and J.J.Kane (for Irwin, 77 mins).

BUCCANEERS:- C.Boland; B.Henshaw,S.Layden, C.Finn, S.Macauley; J.Carty, M.Dolan; J.Walshe, G.Halligan, P.Reilly; R.Byrne, D.Qualter; K.Kiripati (captain), S.McCormack and L.Satchwell. Replacements:- D.Higgins (for Reilly, 50 mins), E.O’Reilly (for Macauley, 61 mins), J.O’Rourke (for McCormack, 65 mins), A.Hayman (for Finn, 66 mins), S.Macauley (for Dolan, 68 mins) and P.Reilly (for Walshe, 70 mins).

REFEREE:-  Sean Gallagher. (IRFU).

 

BUCCANEERS 17 LOUGHREA 22

 

BUCCANEERS SECONDS faded badly in the final quarter of their Connacht Junior Plate semi-final against Loughrea at Dubarry Park, Athlone, on Sunday when the visitors scored a last gasp try to dump the homesters out of this competition. This was a bitterly disappointing defeat for Buccs who had looked the much superior outfit for three-quarters of this joust.

 

Loughrea opened the scoring with an early Danny Murray penalty but Buccs steadily became the dominant force, applying increasing pressure but meeting stiff resistance. They eventually conjured up a clever try when David Fagan smartly chipped a penalty over the visitors retreating defence and he won the race for possession to snaffle an opportunist 24th minute try at the posts. He duly converted but then, shortly afterwards, he was involved in a scuffle with the opposing No.8 and both players were despatched for ten minutes in the sin bin. Loughrea were wide with a long-range penalty in the crossfield breeze before Sean Flynn thundered forward six minutes before the break and, after sucking in the cover, he gave an exquisite offload to Eoghan O’Reilly who scampered in for a try wide on the left which Dominic Griffith could not convert. Nevertheless, Buccs led 12-3 at half-time.

Buccaneers restarted with purpose and tempo and had Loughrea promptly on the back foot. As they piled forward, the visiting No.7 was guilty of slowing possession and incurred a yellow card. Buccs tapped the ensuing penalty to touch on the left and then mauled over the Loughrea line where Sean Byrne applied the finish for a try but Fagan’s conversion attempt fell short. The Pirates now held a promising 17-3 advantage but then erred in making substitutions a mite early and in too short a timeframe. O’Reilly and Josh O’Rourke, who had both been prominent, were withdrawn bearing in mind Buccs U-20s key fixture at Lansdowne next weekend while the rampaging Sean Flynn was also replaced before the hour mark. When flanker Niall Flynn was injured at the three-quarters stage, prop Paata Rikadze was Buccs only remaining substitute.

Loughrea got in for a pushover try five minutes later that reduced their leeway to 17-8 and restored belief. Meanwhile, Buccs were now beginning to struggle in some sectors especially in the pack where Ruairi Byrne’s absence was felt and his brother Sean was suffering from an illness. Indiscipline crept in to the homesters’ play and Loughrea made the most of it with their flanker powering in at the posts for a converted try. Just eight minutes remained and the westerners sensed a splendid comeback was on but a battling home squad held them out until the final moments. The match ended in a welter of excitement as Buccs repelled everything that Loughrea could throw at them, including turning over a five-metre scrum at the very end. Unfortunately, Griffiths’ pass and Fagan’s clearance did not measure up to their earlier efforts and Loughrea secured possession from the resultant close-in lineout to surge over the Buccaneers line for a try by their lock that was converted with the final kick of the match to complete an unlikely comeback.

Buccs will rue this as a gilt-edged chance spurned and the Seconds’ season is now at an end. It was a gut-wrenching defeat for Buccaneers who had sparkled for much of this contest and looked very comfortable at the three-quarters stage. But somewhat hasty changes disrupted their momentum and Loughrea seized their opportunity with a spirited comeback during which they played some excellent rugby. O’Rourke, Conor Morrissey and Trevor Thompson did their utmost in the forwards exchanges while Sean Flynn and the two O’Reilly’s were pick of the backline.    

BUCCANEERS:-  E.O’Reilly; C.O’Reilly, B.Walsh, S.Flynn, D.Byrne; D.Fagan, D.Griffiths; A.Daly, R.Grenham, T.Thompson; J.O’Rourke, S.Byrne; N.Flynn, C.Morrissey and R.Reid. Replacements:- H.Hughes (for E.O’Reilly), L.Walshe (for O’Rourke), B.Gilligan (for S.Flynn) and P.Rikadze (for N.Flynn).

REFEREE:- Joe Doyne (Connacht). 

ANOTHER HECTIC WEEKEND OF VITAL FIXTURES

BUCCANEERS and BLACKROCK COLLEGE go head to head on Saturday afternoon when the sides clash in the Ulster Bank League at Dubarry Park, Athlone. Kick off is 2.30 p.m. for what could be a make-or-break Division 1B match for both clubs. Buccs are on a really good run at the moment, steadily closing the gap on second placed Corinthians as they chase the sole play-off berth.

Meanwhile, Blackrock are endeavouring to move further up the league table. Presently they lie in 7th place but are just two points above both Dublin University and Malone. With Dungannon looking doomed, Rock will not wish to get involved in the relegation dogfight and consequently they will travel to Athlone on a mission to secure precious points. They have scored 64 points in their past two matches and look to be playing to their potential. David Rowan and Mark Scott-Lennon can take scores if given space while Michael Carroll (who partners Owen Cullen in the second row) is regular try getter. Prop Karl Haitana and elusive No.8 Richie Marsh are two other players whose influence must be curbed. Discipline needs to be a priority for Buccs as Rob Keogh is a highly consistent place-kicker for Rock.

Blackrock are, arguably, a better outfit than their league table position indicates and their second half display against Buccs at Stradbrook should sound a warning for the midlanders. However, the Pirates put 41 points on College in the opening half in that encounter and then, understandably, dropped work rate and concentration after the break. However, they must not allow that to re-occur on Saturday. But Buccs are a potent outfit at present and are focussed in their goals. Conor Kindregan will be absent again through injury but James Tormey is fit to return while Alex Hayman should be fully recovered from the illness that curbed his playing time in Dungannon where Buccs were efficient and exciting after an unusually subdued first half performance. But, if they repeat the second half flair, support play and tempo, then they can maintain their winning run.      

U-20s  away to Lansdowne in quarter-final

BUCCANEERS U-20s, who have enjoyed a wonderful campaign this season, will face their stiffest test yet when they tackle Lansdowne in the quarter-final of the Fraser McMullan Cup in Dublin on Saturday. Kick off time is 2.30 p.m. but venue is not confirmed at time of writing. It could be the artificial pitch at The Aviva or perhaps at Lansdowne’s grounds at Kilternan in the Dublin foothills.

Lansdowne had about a third of the Ireland U-20 squad so the young Buccs could be facing Cian Kelleher, Ian Fitzpatrick, Shane Delahunt, Oisin Heffernan, Conor McKeon, Denis Coulson, Stephen Gardiner and Birr’s Peter Dooley who all featured at some stage or other in Ireland U-20s recent Six Nations matches at Dubarry Park. Lansdowne successfully appealed their elimination by the Leinster Branch and will be hot favourites to advance.

However, Buccaneers have had a magnificent season to date, losing just one league game despite having being forced to travel for all but three of their fixtures! So life on the road is the normal for this promising group of young players who will not be fazed easily. They will look to their pair of Ireland U-20s Rory Moloney and Jacob Walshe to lead by example. Eoghan O’Reilly, Ben Carty, Saba Meunargia, Cian Romaine, Sean Dempsey and Josh O’Rourke are able performers in a well-balanced squad that, hopefully, won’t be “raided” too greatly by the Senior XV this weekend. If the Pirates are not over-awed, they can be counted on to give of their best in what should be a thoroughly entertaining contest. 

THIRDS begin Cup defence

BUCCANEERS THIRDS kick off the defence of the Ard-Na-Cregg Cup when they face last season’s defeated finalists Oughterard in the opening round at Dubarry Park, Athlone, on Sunday. Kick off is 2.30 p.m. The fledgling Co. Galway club sought to have this fixture brought forward and, generously, agreed to conceding home advantage. 

But that is as far as their generosity is likely to go and Buccs can expect a right good battle in this joust. Buccs won last year’s final on a 33-15 scoreline, built primarily on a sizzling first half display. Oughterard will have learned from that and are unlikely to be caught napping again. But Buccs have a decent side with some strength in depth at this level, as shown in last Sunday’s league triumph. They have many of last year’s squad and should have too much guile and grunt for the westerners. However, they must not underestimate Oughterard and, hopefully, they will not have “over celebrated” their league success. If they play to their capabilities, then Buccs should advance in front of home supporters.

TABLE QUIZ

Buccaneers U-14s squad is holding a TABLE QUIZ in The Bounty on this THURSDAY night, March 27th beginning at 8.30 p.m. Entry fee is €40 per team of four. There are loads of prizes on offer on the night so come along and support these young lads.  

CONDOLENCES

Deepest sympathy is extended to JIM BYRNE and family on the death of Jim’s mother Maureen. Ar dheis De a anam.

AUTUMN INTERNATIONALS TICKETS

Ireland’s Guinness Autumn International fixtures are over six months away but, in their wisdom, the IRFU is seeking pre-paid applications for these tickets before the end of this month! Application Forms are available in The Bounty or by email from [email protected] or by contacting our Administrator Geraldine at 0861732711. Supply is, of course, subject to demand and availability.

The fixtures are as follows:-

SOUTH AFRICA                Saturday, November 8th.                  Kick off 5.30 p.m.

GEORGIA                           Sunday, November 16th.                   Kick off 2.30 p.m.

AUSTRALIA                       Saturday, November 22nd.                Kick off 4.30 p.m.

runAthlone 10k

runAthlone is a 10k run hosted by Buccaneers RFC and supporting Special Olympics that will take place on Saturday, April 26th next. This race is open to all levels of competitors/participants over a scenic route in the Coosan, Athlone, area. Cash prizes for 1st, 2nd and 3rd in both the Male and Female categories. Online Registration can be done via www.runireland.com and is open now. Watch this space for further information and check out separate article elsewhere. 

 

Related

IRFU Youth Council Now Open For New Members