BUCCANEERS 19 CORK CONSTITUTION 24 | News | Buccaneers Rugby Football Club Athlone

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published:Nov  14   2017

(Senior match report courtesy of Michael Stapleton)


Buccaneers improved form in last week’s outing at Terenure College was the backdrop for the visit of Cork Constitution to Dubarry Park, Athlone, for Saturday’s Ulster Bank League Division 1A fixture; Con being the powerhouse of tradition over past years as well as currently the reigning AIL dual champions. But the Rebels had to battle all the way to overcome a determined and sustained challenge by Buccs before edging the verdict 24-19 in a well-contested encounter in this Glenroyal Hotel sponsored match.


Buccs made three changes for this encounter which marked the start of the mid section of the league fixtures list. Peter Claffey, so influential in recent outings, was ruled out through injury with Cian Romaine returning from suspension to take his place in the second row. Darragh Corbett’s recent displays for the Seconds earned him his first Senior start on the right wing in the ongoing absence of Jordan Conroy. Meanwhile, Conan O’Donnell was a late defection to be replaced by Niall Farrelly at tighthead prop. That meant that Luke Carty was the only ‘Connacht’ player on the home squad. Cork Con made a number of changes too with Aidan Moynihan starting at flyhalf, Alex McHenry (son of golfer John) at centre and Dylan Murphy in the front row.


Despite the big sporting counter-attractions elsewhere and the damp conditions prevailing, the attendance was decent enough but home supporters did not get the start they were hoping for. Cork Con had not turned up in unmotivated fashion and within two minutes had scored the first try in the corner through winger J.J.O’Neill, giving out an ominous warning. The Pirates had further reason for concern ten minutes later as Graeme Lawlor went round the corner after a series of close-in drives to score to the left of the posts. Moynihan converted both tries to make it 14-0 in favour of the visitors at this early stage. 


Buccaneers, whose lineout and scrum were both under pressure, were boosted by Carty’s kicking from open play but with another U-20 Simon Meagher getting ball away from the base of the scrum only under severe pressure. The Athlone side were still game to counter-attack, however, and any notion that Cork Con would have an easy afternoon was dispelled by the definite spirit and no little ability shown by the home side.


Before the half hour mark, Buccs were rewarded for their good play. A deft punt ahead by outhalf Carty was collected by Alan Gaughan who sent Rory O’Connor away. The winger continued to embellish his record of tries scored but had much to do when tackled short of the line where he showed tremendous determination to score a fine try. Carty added the conversion from beside the posts.


Buccaneers were now battling at the breakdown through Martin Staunton and Evan Galvin and, as Dan Law arrived on the scene, following another counter in midfield O’Connor raced over for another superb try (his sixth of the season). This score was not converted to leave just two points between the sides but Moynihan slotted a tricky penalty before halftime to put Cork Con 17-12 ahead at the interval in the wet and miserable weather.


Both teams were defending ferociously either side of half-way for a lengthy stretch after the change of ends but Buccs blinked first and a move by the Corkonians stretched the home defence before the hour mark sending Ned Hodson over in the corner. Moynihan continued with his impeccable place-kicking to send the conversion over and make it double scores 24-12 in favour of the visitors.


But with Law impressive in both set pieces and in the loose, the midlanders were still very much in the contest and a smashing Carty break from halfway almost yielded a try. Eventually the efforts of the Pirates pack in scrums and mauls was rewarded with a penalty try as they drove with purpose. However, despite their sustained and encouraging endeavours, Buccs could not fashion another score as Cork Con held on for a narrow 24-19 victory that moved them up one place to third in the league table.


Buccs half-backs gave a steady service and for the second week running the outside backs showed huge commitment and ability in both attack and defence. This was a big learning curve for young Corbett who was unfazed by the experience. The pack were equally undaunted showing character of application against noticeably heavier opponents. Law and Romaine stood out somewhat but as the game progressed the commitment of the pack as a whole was unstinting. Buccs had field position once or twice to fashion a surprise victory but place-kicking success only separated the two teams in reality on the scoreboard.


Another bonus point gained merely reflected in a minimal way only what was a continued improvement in performance. Buccaneers are now playing with leadership example and maturity and can only gain further if they continue to optimise. Cork Con were best served by Moynihan’s boot and Liam O’Connell’s steadiness as well as his kicking out of hand at fullback. In the pack flanker Ross O’Neill was most noticeable.    


BUCCANEERS:- C.Boland; D.Corbett, A.Gaughan, S.Layden (captain), R.O’Connor; L.Carty, F.Hopkins; M.Staunton, J.Sutton, N.Farrelly; R.Byrne, C.Romaine; R.Farrell, E.Galvin and S.Meagher. Replacements:- D.Law (for Farrell, 35 mins), R.Farrell (for Byrne, 50 mins), G.Lynch (for Hopkins, 60 mins), R.Grenham (for Sutton, 68 mins), C.Seery and R.O’Meara.


CORK CONSTITUTION:- L.O’Connell; J.J.O’Neill, A.McHenry, N.Kenneally (captain), N.Hodson; A.Moynihan, J.Higgins; B.Quinlan, M.Abbott, D.Murphy; B.Hayes, C.Kindregan; G.Lawlor, R.O’Neill and E.Mintern. Replacements:- J.McHenry, G.Duffy, J.McSwiney, G.Hurley and B.Monaghan.


Referee:- Stuart Gaffikin (IRFU).




After early promise to the season Buccaneers U-20’s run of recent disappointing performances and results continued at Dr. Hickey Park on Sunday when Greystones readily won this J.P.Fanagan Leinster Premier League 2 tie by 51-10.