BUCCANEERS 31 BALLYHAUNIS 10
BUCCANEERS DEVELOPMENT SQUAD continue their revival with their fourth successive bonus point victory in the Connacht Junior 1B League, accounting for Ballyhaunis by 31-10 at wet and cold Dubarry Park on Sunday. In the conditions, this was never going to be a champagne affair but Buccs were a shade slicker and fully deserved this hard-earned win.
Although generally conceding weight and size in testing conditions, the more spritely homesters got off to a flying start with James Donoghue finishing off good work by Conor Greene for a 3rd minute try which Jack Keegan converted. However, some over-elaboration on occasions denied them adding to their tally and Ballyhaunis came more into the contest coming up to the interval but they missed two longish penalties and thus the young Pirates led 7-0 at the break.
Despite having Rory Walshe in the sin bin on the restart, Buccs created the first chances of the second half. Keegan was short with a penalty kick but then landed a fine conversion from wide on the left touchline of winger Greene’s well-finished 45th minute try. Ballyhaunis responded with an unconverted try within two minutes before Buccs had a second yellow card with substitute David Burns incurring the wrath of the referee within a few minutes of his introduction. Nevertheless, Buccaneers again belied their temporary numerical inferiority a second time when compact No.8 Walshe burst through from outside the 22 for a splendid 58th minute try which Keegan converted to put the homesters 19-5 ahead.
Ballyhaunis replied with a second unconverted try within five minutes to leave the game still finely balanced before Buccs sealed the issue with the best score of the game on 66 minutes. John Maguire carried on a good break before off-loading delightfully to Ger Walsh who crashed over in the left corner. Keegan again demonstrated his place-kicking prowess with a super conversion of this bonus point try. Impressive fullback Maguire was also involved in the final score when he chased his own kick ahead to force a five metre penalty from which Glen Costello gleefully scampered away to dive over in some style in the corner for a smartly-executed try to complete the 31-10 winning margin.
Despite conditions not best suited to this Buccs squad -- and not helping their own cause with a brace of yellow cards -- their technique and workrate was superior than their opponents with the accomplished Keegan and Maguire doing excellent work in the backline and a balanced pack (that welcomed back Diarmuid Higgins after injury) standing up to a physically stronger Ballyhaunis unit.
BUCCANEERS:- J.Maguire; C.Greene, D.Byrne, D.Griffith, G.Walsh; J.Keegan, G.Costello; M.Staunton, D.Lennon (captain), D.Higgins; J.Tormey, R.Byrne; J.Donoghue, D.Egan and R.Walshe. Replacements:- D.Burns (for Higgins, 46 mins), C.O’Neill (for Donoghue, 55 mins), J.O’Donoghue (for Lennon) and L.Doran (for Staunton, inj. 68 mins).