TERENURE COLLEGE showed the mark of champions when they overhauled Buccaneers just before the end of a pulsating Ulster Bank League Division 1B thriller to end their season with a magnificent 100% winning record on a 36-29 scoreline at Lakelands Park, Dublin, on Saturday. With Nure clear title winners and Buccs already assured of a play-off, the big crowd on a sun-drenched Easter Saturday may have anticipated a handy stroll in the sunshine. How wrong they would have been for both teams served up a feast of scores in a fast-flowing and absolutely enjoyable finale to the league.  65 points were scored including 8 tries and, with the homesters accumulating half a dozen of the touchdowns, they deserved the honours on the day.

Credit too to the Pirates who, despite missing a number of key players, did their utmost to spoil the party. Kolo Kiripati and Mark Dolan joined Luke Satchwell on the injury list. Martin Staunton and Shane Layden were reserved for the bench in anticipation of the forthcoming play-off trip to Ballynahinch while Evan Galvin was given a first start with Sam McCormack also rotating to the bench. Terenure made two late changes due to injuries, John Dever coming in for lock Kevin O’Dwyer and Conor Kelly replacing Harry Moore on the left wing.

Helped by a diagonal breeze, Buccs hit the ground running with Jack Carty continuing as he had finished against UL Bohs when he sailed through for a smart try inside three minutes. He converted and duly kicked the extras nine minutes later when Conor Finn strongly finished off further good play by the midlanders for a try wide on the left. This splendid 14-0 start laid down a marker for the remainder of a fast-flowing duel. Carty’s only miss of the game followed three minutes later when his penalty, after referee Olly Hodges had words with feisty home scrumhalf Kevin O’Neill, went right of the posts.  

Terenure were stung by this opening salvo and gradually worked their way into the contest. They came close to the visitors’ line on a couple of occasions before Ian Hanley stretched over on the right to open their account with a 21st minute try which Mark O’Neill converted. In the lead up to this score Buccs suffered a major setback when James Tormey came a cropper on the rock hard surface and was replaced by McCormack.  


Carty replied with a decent 25th minute penalty but, just as quickly, Fergal Walsh seized a blindside gap for a soft unconverted home try on the left. The game ebbed and flowed before the Athlone standard bearers had the final score of an absorbing first half when, after Terenure infringed at scrumtime, dissent brought the penalty just inside their half and Carty drilled a splendid kick to put Buccs 20-12 ahead at the interval. 

A Carty penalty via an upright within two minutes of the restart after Robert Duke was sin-binned put the Pirates 11 points clear. But they did not build on their temporary numerical superiority and indeed it was the hosts who scored next when Dever got through much too easily at the posts for a 49th minute try which Mark O’Neill converted to leave the scoreboard reading 23-19 in favour of the visitors. When Nure strayed offside, Carty landed another penalty again via an upright on 54 minutes but the Pirates were now not making inroads as easily as in the opening half.

Terenure swiftly responded once more with the livewire Kevin O’Neill squeezing in for a bonus point try wide on the left to narrow the arrears to two points. Still Buccs refused to read the home script and the excellent Carty brought his tally to 24 points with his fifth successful penalty after 63 minutes. But College were now forcing the pace with the goal of winning all their matches driving them on. James O’Neill levelled the scores 29-29 with his 67th minute unconverted try on the left.

Buccs were not finished yet and a despairing hand trip by skipper O’Neill halted a hugely promising Carty break while Qualter was whistled back for what must have been a very marginal forward pass. Terenure took the lead for the first time just six minutes from the finish when, following some smart handling, John Bollard was sent scampering in for a try at the posts with outhalf O’Neill adding the conversion. As Buccs battled desperately to at least share the spoils amid a welter of excitement, Kyle McCoy incurred a late yellow card for cynically slowing possession as the midlanders launched an attack.

So a tremendous, sustained comeback by Terenure College who kicked off their celebrations following the final whistle. Nevertheless, Buccaneers will be well pleased with their performance considering the absences of key figures. Their lineout was comfortable, the scrum was solid and the backline looked lively. A losing bonus point was precious little for the overall display but it confirmed a strong 2nd place in a competitive and mainly even Division 1B. Confidence and self belief will have been maintained in the squad as they knuckle down in preparation for their promotion playoff away to Ballynahinch on Saturday week, May 3rd.

BUCCANEERS:-  C.Boland; B.Henshaw, C.Finn, A.Hayman (captain), E.O’Reilly; J.Carty, G.O’Connor; J.Walshe, G.Halligan, D.Higgins; J.Tormey, R.Byrne; C.Kindregan, E.Galvin and D.Qualter. Replacements:-  S.McCormack (for Tormey, inj. 22 mins),  S.Layden (for Boland, h/t), M.Staunton (for Walshe, 53 mins), B.Teape (for Higgins, 75 mins), J.Walshe (for Staunton, 75 mins) and B.Carty.


TERENURE COLLEGE:-  I.Hanley; R.Roopnarinesingh, J.Bollard, G.Coffey, C.Kelly; M.O’Neill, K.O’Neill; G.Hamilton, R.Smyth, K.Dooley; J.Dever, F.Walsh; R.Duke, J.O’Neill (captain) and K.McCoy. Replacements:- A.Dunlop (for Dever, h/t), J.Barretto (for Hamilton, 49 mins), J.Dever (for Dunlop, 58 mins), W.Devane (for Coffey, 63 mins), N.Thornton (for Kelly, 68 mins) and B.Elliott.

Referee:-  Olly Hodges (IRFU).


Congrats to young Buccs prop CONOR KENNY and his Garbally College teammate Peter Claffey who were members of the Ireland team that reached the final of the U-18 European championship.


Deepest sympathy is extended to the families of the late Margaret (Peg) Connell and Maisie O’Reilly. Condolences also to our Administrator Geraldine Kenny and family on the death of her uncle Michael Carr.

RUN-ATHLONE 10k on Saturday

RUN-ATHLONE 10k takes place from Dubarry Park, Athlone, on this coming Saturday morning, April 26th, starting at 11 a.m. Hosted by Buccaneers RFC and supporting Special Olympics, here’s hoping for a big turnout. Registration can be done now on-line at www.runireland.com for €20 or by coming along to The Bounty on Friday evening between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. (in the Lower Deck). Late registrations will be taken on the morning of the event at €25. Check the club’s website www.buccaneersrfc.com for up to date information. Volunteers are welcome; kindly contact Yvonne O’Shea, Brian Tallon or Lorna Stuart-Trainor in advance in this regard.


U18 Girls team named to face Ulster