It was almost a case of Déjà vu at Coonagh, Limerick, on Saturday when Buccaneers U-21s repeated last season’s final minute South-West Conference Section A victory over Shannon in a keenly-contested tussle. This hard-earned 9-7 win in dry, windy conditions keeps the gallant midlanders in the hunt for a play-off berth.
A strong downfield breeze meant that this was a game of two halves with, initially, Shannon having its assistance and thereby enjoying almost total dominance of the opening period. Steadfast and resolute defending by Buccs, apart from not dealing with one garryowen which yielded a converted try for the home side, meant that their half-time arrears looked a very manageable 0-7. That home score arrived near the posts after 27 minutes.
The Athlone outfit went about their business with a purpose on the change of ends but found Shannon just as determined not to concede scores. Buccs were spurred on when Jack Feeney opened their account with a 47th minute penalty and he added a second as the game entered the final quarter. The Pirates front row trio of Brian Teape, Scott Flanagan and Diarmuid Higgins caused problems from start to finish while the backrow trio of Ronan Farrell, Paul Maxwell and Adrian Connaughton plundered aplenty to keep the Munster side under steady pressure all through.
It looked like a crucial third score would never materialise for Buccaneers but they never wavered in their quest. Their bravery was duly rewarded with Keegan emerging the hero of an enthralling battle when, deep in added time and with the final kick of the match, the young outhalf thumped a smashing penalty from the halfway line to edge the contest. Centres Conor FitzGibbon and Ben Carty also excelled in a backline that had to overcome a massive early setback when Callum Boland and Rossa Taylor were both injured in the same incident along with a Shannon back. All three are wished speedy recoveries from their injuries.
BUCCANEERS:- C.Boland; R.Taylor, C.FitzGibbon, B.Carty, T.Clifford; J.Feeney, B.Digby; B.Teape, S.Flanagan, D.Higgins; J.O’Rourke, M.Mannion; R.Farrell, P.Maxwell and A.Connaughton (captain). Replacements:- R.Pepper-Hobbs (for Boland, inj. 17 mins), R.O’Reilly (for Taylor, inj. 17 mins), R.Enraght-Moony (for Maxwell, 2nd half), R.Corcoran, C.O’Reilly and J.O’Donoghue.