BUCCANEERS 24 ST MARY’S COLLEGE 17 | News | Buccaneers Rugby Football Club Athlone

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published:Feb  25   2019

BUCCANEERS bounced back from last week’s last gasp loss in Armagh to record a bonus point 24-17 All-Ireland League Division 1B victory over St. Mary’s College at Dubarry Park on Saturday. Buccs warranted this vital win but made heavier work of it than necessary in front of Connacht Head Coach Andy Friend. However, following three wins in their last four matches, they now lie just a solitary point adrift of the Dubliners on the ever tightening league table.


Buccs made 6 changes all in the pack for this must win match sponsored by the Hodson Bay Hotel Group. Props Conan O’Donnell and Conor Kenny returned after illness and injury respectively while Rory Moloney resumed after an operation in place of the injured Simon Meagher. With Joe Maksymiw required by Connacht and Peter Claffey ruled out by an injury, Ruairi Byrne and Torin Rensford renewed their partnership at lock while Sean Masterson joined older brother Eoghan in the back row. St. Mary’s had just two changes. Ruairi Shields and Dan Lyons, who both came on as replacements last week, made the starting XV for this visit to the midlands.


Conditions were near perfect at the Athlone venue on a lovely spring afternoon. St. Mary’s had first advantage of the diagonal breeze and began on the front foot but Buccs stood firm and then scored from their first real break after 10 minutes. Luke Carty got the ball wide via Callum Boland to late call-up Rensford and the lock thundered forward before linking with Frankie Hopkins. The scrumhalf was stopped short by his opposite number Paddy O’Driscoll but had the awareness and presence (similar to Scotland’s Finn Russell recently against Ireland) to offload to Rory O’Connor who scooted in for an unconverted try on the right.


However, the homesters were not sharp on the restart and suddenly St. Mary’s had an overlap on the left which they capitalised on, fullback Shields running in for a 13th minute unconverted try to level. But Buccaneers were not fazed by this setback and, following a fine penalty to touch on the left, they mauled over the College line where O’Donnell grounded for a 21st minute try which was also unconverted.


Six minutes later, the Pirates repeated the dose. This time a series of threatening pick and goes followed another good lineout take. Shane Layden and Kieran Joyce were kept out but Eoghan Masterson stretched over on the right for his third try in two matches. Carty’s conversion gave Buccs a 17-5 lead. Soon afterwards Sean Masterson was sin-binned for slowing ball illegally but Buccaneers showed tremendous defensive resilience to protect their advantage until half-time.


St. Mary’s made a tonic start to the second half. After going through a number of phases following the change of ends, they sucked in the home cover and Craig Kennedy sped down the left for a 42nd minute unconverted try. Almost immediately, Buccaneers had a glorious opportunity for a perfect riposte but Eoghan Masterson’s pass in a three-on-one situation was forward and Hopkins gilt-edged try opportunity could not be taken.


Although they did not make enough use of the breeze, Buccs pressure was growing but they were caught napping on the hour mark when Marcus O’Driscoll intercepted just outside the College 22. With the Pirates pressing forward the St. Mary’s captain raced away to score between the posts and Paddy O’Driscoll’s conversion tied the scores at 17-17 to set up a grandstand final quarter.


This rejuvenated the metropolitans and Buccs became edgy but they maintained their urgency and workrate, keeping the visitors under pressure. They were rewarded seven minutes from time albeit a little fortuitously. Corey Reid’s attempted grubber kick was blocked but rebounded back to him and the young centre calmly weaved his way through to touchdown near the uprights. Carty duly converted this bonus point try that sealed Buccaneers priceless 24-17 victory.


Hugo Diepman and Nick McCarthy were prominent in the St. Mary’s pack while Kennedy was a constant threat on the wing. Rensford is getting better week by week for Buccs and the New Zealander’s contribution, particularly in the first half, earned him the AUDI ATHLONE Man of the Match accolade. After his lengthy lay-off Moloney too will be happy with his input in the forwards exchanges. Reid was lively in the home backline where Carty’s line-kicking was first rate as Buccs passed this crunch College test.


BUCCANEERS:- C.Boland; R.O’Connor, C.Reid, K.Joyce, S.Layden (captain); L.Carty, F.Hopkins; C.O’Donnell, J.Sutton, C.Kenny; R.Byrne, T.Rensford; S.Masterson, R.Moloney and E.Masterson. Replacements:- E.Galvin (for Moloney, 58 mins), M.Staunton (for Kenny, 58 mins), R.Moloney (for Rensford, 65 mins), C.Kenny (for O’Donnell, 65 mins), R.Grenham (for Sutton, 74 mins), G.Lynch and M.Hanley.


ST. MARY’S COLLEGE:- R.Shields; H.Conway, M.Carey, M.O’Driscoll (captain), C.Kennedy; C.Dean, P.O’Driscoll; T.O’Reilly, R.Halpin, M.McCormack; H.Diepman, D.McDonnell; D.Lyons, N.McCarthy and M.Fallon. Replacements:- P.Dundon (for O’Reilly, 46 mins), S.Heeran (for Fallon, 55 mins), T.O’Reilly (for Dundon, 61 mins), S.O’Brien (for Lyons, 65 mins), T.McMahon and D.Moroney.


Referee:- Chris Harrington (IRFU).




BUCCANEERS stunned high-flying Creggs with a 27-10 Connacht Junior 1A League bonus point victory under the Dubarry Park floodlights last Saturday night. The visitors, despite taking an early lead, found the steadily improving Buccs too hot to handle in ideal conditions in the Athlone side’s final home game of the season.


The visitors started much stronger and put pressure on the breakdown from the off. They won an early penalty and two lineouts later followed by a good maul they scored an unconverted try. Buccs bounced straight back with a series of good lineouts and strike plays. This attacking play hurt Creggs and led to Andre Kruger picking and going over under the posts for a try converted by Gavin O’Toole.


Soon afterwards Graham Lynch got over in the corner after some well controlled play by outhalf Eoghan O’Toole and his pack. This try was unconverted but it was not long before Gavin O’Toole regained his radar to land a penalty for a 15-5 halftime lead.


Creggs threw everything they had at Buccs during the third quarter during which they scored another unconverted try and the midlanders had a player in the sin bin. Kruger made a huge hit in midfield early in the final quarter and bounced up to steal the ball. Lynch broke the line and following some wonderful interplay Eoghan O’Toole scored an unconverted try. Buccs line breaks continued to make life uncomfortable for the westerners and led to the home side’s bonus point try scored by Callum Forde. Gavin O’Toole slotted over the conversion to complete the 27-10 winning margin.


Young Kruger was outstanding throughout. Owen Treacy was another who stood up to be counted in the tough forwards contest while Harry O’Reilly’s scrummaging was powerful. Anthony Shine-Lynch ran the lineout all evening at his ease, showing maturity above his years. He made many tackles too as well as some fine runs to be Buccs Man of the Match in this victory. Darragh Corbett was outstanding in the loose and his centre partner Robert Enraght-Moony stood up to many big carries. Ross Murphy-Sweeney, Harry Hughes and Forde generally made ground when in possession as did substitute Gerard Fallon while Eoghan O’Toole controlled matters at stand-off.


Creggs are Connemara’s closest challengers and are commendably in a strong second place on the league table. But Buccaneers momentum has moved them up to have a firm grip on third place ahead of the final round of league fixtures next weekend.


Meanwhile this win gave Buccaneers J1’s Manager Conor Moran the perfect start to his 40th birthday celebrations!


BUCCANEERS:- H.Hughes; R.Murphy-Sweeney, D.Corbett, R.Enraght-Moony, C.Forde; E.O’Toole, G.Lynch; R.Grenham, D.Buckley, H.O’Reilly; A.Kruger, T.Phillips;. A.Shine-Lynch, G.O’Toole and O.Treacy. Replacements:- D.Browne, S.Flynn, F.Galvin, J.Lopez and G.Fallon.