Buccaneers overcame Corrib 17-7 in their Connacht Junior U-13 League test at windy Dubarry Park, Athlone, on Sunday. Buccaneers were deserved winners but Corrib pushed them all the way to the very end, never allowing Buccs rest on their laurels.

Buccaneers had first use of the diagonal strong breeze and set up camp in the Corrib end for the majority of the first half. Possession tended to be a bit of a lottery, particularly for the home side as the breeze carried passes away from players, leading to numerous knock-ons and scrums. The stop/start nature of the game did not suit this running side, who are most effective with quick ball and running direct at opposition. To their credit Buccs maintained their composure and grew into the game as it progressed. Their endeavours appeared to be rewarded when Dean Buckley crashed over the line after picking the ball up smartly from the base of the ruck, but somehow the ref deemed it a knock on despite the fact that the ball was secured in both hands. Nevertheless, Buccs dusted themselves down and got back to the task at hand. Within 5 mins they had breached the line after Julian Devaney picked and powered his way over for a 5-0 lead. Buccs were on the score sheet again within 10 mins when Michael Byrne sniped in for a well taken try, leaving the score 10-0 in their favour at half time.

Buccs started the second half brightly, carrying into the strong breeze and maintaining possession. Corrib were beginning to find their feet, with their rampaging No.8 picking from the scrum and making good ground, all too frequently for the home team. Corrib also discovered they could make progress by picking and going through the centre of Buccs ruck defence. These elements combined with some poor tackling lead to Corrib’s try 3 mins after the restart which was converted leaving the sides 10-7.

At this stage the Athlone boys could have panicked but to their credit they pulled themselves together and set about making inroads into Corrib territory.  They were guilty in the first half of passing without drawing the man and attempting to run around Corrib. However, when they started to run more straight and test first up tackles they were making ground fast. Aided also by quicker delivery from the breakdown, Buccs started to look increasingly threatening. Darragh Murray’s direct, hard running was wreaking havoc on the Corrib defence and his deserved try on the forty minute mark capped an outstanding display by the inside centre. The try was converted by Shane Cunnane, who is growing into the pivotal outhalf position, to complete the 17-7 scoreline.

This was a tough battle for Buccs who were made work hard all the way to the end by this Corrib side. It was the midlanders’ work rate and focus that saw them through this encounter, particular up front where Devaney and Martin Fallon were the standout performers along with Michael Lynch and Buckley. However it was Murray at first centre who stole the show with a sterling performance in both defence and attack and was the difference between the two sides. Others to shine on the day were the half back pairing of Byrne and Cunnane and Leo McFarlane on his first full game for the team.

BUCCANEERS:- Eabhan Slattery, Fergus O’Sullivan, Leo MacFarlane, Conor Larkin, Darragh Murray, Shane Cunnane, Michael Byrne, Vicente Gaetani, Dean Buckley, Scott Ward, Billy Dalton, Martin Fallon, Julian Devaney, Michael Lynch (captain), Jack Scouler. Replacements:- Daniel Westman,  Jack Martin, Shane Green, Diarmuid McLoughlin, Ethan Connolly and Kevin Horan,

 

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