BUCCANEERS 24 YOUNG MUNSTER 32 | News | Buccaneers Rugby Football Club Athlone

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published:Oct  02   2017

Luckless Buccaneers pointless start to life in Division 1A of the Ulster Bank League continued at Dubarry Park when they went down 32-24 to Young Munster in a spirited contest played in glorious sunshine on Saturday. A final quarter fadeout again cost the midlanders dearly in this ‘must win’ basement battle as the physically stronger visitors claimed three tries to overhaul an eleven points’ deficit in a committed and entertaining joust.


Wearing their canary yellow away strip, Buccs made three changes for this encounter. All were enforced and all in their backline which now contained four U-20 players including centre Corey Reid, in for injured Danie Poolman, and scrumhalf Frankie Hopkins who started in place of Connacht-tied Conor McKeon. Will O’Brien debuted at fullback with Luke Carty switching to outhalf instead of Alan Gaughan who opted for GAA duty with Athlone. Conor Kenny make a swift recovery from last week’s injury so the Pirates pack was unchanged.


Playing conditions were near perfect and Carty opened the scoring with a third minute penalty for the hosts. Following a long period of advantage, Conor Hayes stroked over a Young Munster penalty four minutes later. Weak home tackling contributed to the visitors making ground in the build-up to their opening try by Ben Kilkenny on 13 minutes. The Cookies enjoyed a slice of good fortune in securing their next score, another unconverted Kilkenny try after 28 minutes. Young home centre Reid lost possession through an unpunished high tackle on his own 22 and the Limerick side’s captain finished off their counter attack along the right flank to put Young Munster 13-3 to the good.


A powerful charge by Peter Claffey down the left five minutes later was finished in determined fashion by Hopkins for a try which Carty converted. Then a rousing Martin Staunton surge followed as Buccs now took the game to the visitors but they suffered a setback in the closing stages of the half when injury forced influential backrower Dan Law off. The Athlone side trailed 13-10 at the break.


Three minutes after the change of ends, Rory O’Connor perfectly read Young Munster’s intentions to swoop on a pass and race away for an intercept try between the posts. Carty duly converted but was then short with a 49th minute penalty from the ten metre line. However, Buccs now had the bit between their teeth and Paul Boyle, Reid and Ronan Farrell were all involved in a tremendous 50th minute move that should have earned O’Connor his second try but referee Joy Neville, from some distance back, instead awarded a five metre scrum to the hosts. It merely delayed the score as, after fine work by the pack, Hopkins bravely dived through a tangle of bodies for a try. Carty’s excellent conversion from the left put Buccaneers 24-13 ahead and home supporters began to believe that their team could finally taste 1A victory.


But alas their final quarter travails persisted as Peter Meyer was allowed far too much latitude in getting close to the home line where Young Munster earned a penalty. They opted for a scrum from which they earned a second penalty and Jack Lyons quick tap and go caught Buccs napping as he darted in for a 58th minute try which Hayes converted to narrow the home side’s advantage. The Limerick side were rejuvenated by this score and they followed it up with good handling and awareness to edge ahead when Daniel Hurley finished off crossfield passing with an unconverted 64th minute try that guaranteed Young Munster a bonus point. Crucially this score put them ahead by the minimum 25-24.


Try as they might, Buccaneers just could not breach Young Munster’s committed defending in the closing stages and Gavin Coombes try six minutes from the finish, converted by Hayes, ensured that the Pirates finished empty-handed for their third game in 1A. Young Munster had more of an edge to their efforts, especially in the tight where their pack had a decided size advantage, and they forced quite a number of turnovers throughout. Young fullback Hayes was their most potent performer in this priceless 32-24 victory for the Munster club.


Buccs lack of bulk in their pack puts them at a disadvantage at this level but the absence of a quintet of backs --- experienced trio Poolman, Mata Fifita and Callum Boland out through injury as is last season’s sensational scorer Jordan Conroy while Gaughan focussed on a round ball --- meant the Pirates’ options were limited. These factors are likely key contributors to final quarter woes this season. Yet Buccs have been very much in contention in all three games to date with their real disappointment being in not at least securing bonus points in these matches. The ever willing Simon Meagher was named AUDI ATHLONE Man of the Match and John Sutton, Claffey and Boyle also did their utmost in the forwards exchanges. U-20’s halfback duo Hopkins and especially Carty did very well while O’Connor was always a threat in the backline where O’Brien (brother of the ‘Tullow Tank’) fared well on his first appearance for Buccaneers.


BUCCANEERS:- W.O’Brien; T.McGann, S.Layden (captain), C.Reid, R.O’Connor; L.Carty, F.Hopkins; M.Staunton, J.Sutton, C.Kenny; P.Claffey, C.Romaine; D.Law, S.Meagher and P.Boyle. Replacements:- R.Farrell (for Law, inj. 38 mins), C.O’Donnell (for Staunton, h/t), E.Maher (for Sutton, 66 mins), R.Byrne (for Reid, 72 mins) and E.O’Reilly.


YOUNG MUNSTER:- C.Hayes; D.Hurley, C.Nash, B.Swindlehurst, C.O’Hanlon; S.Airey, R.Guerin; P.Meyer, G.Slattery, C.Skehan; M.Kelly, A.Kennedy; B.Kilkenny (captain), D.Dee and T.Ryan. Replacements:- E.O’Gorman (for Nash, inj. 22 mins), G.Coombes (for Ryan, 44 mins), J.Lyons (for Guerin, 51 mins), M.O’Mara (for Slattery, 72 mins), R.Guerin (for O’Hanlon, 75 mins) and E.Ryan.


Referee:- Joy Neville (IRFU).




CASTLEBAR proved much too strong for a willing but less experienced Buccaneers side when the teams contested the Connacht Womens Invitational Cup final at Dubarry Park on Sunday with the Mayo ladies easing to a 59-12 victory. In the blustery conditions, it was essential that the home girls got a good start. However, Castlebar had the elements in their favour in the opening half and made telling use of the strong breeze to pin Buccs deep in their own territory from an early stage. They led 38-7 at the break, the Pirate lasses response being a fine Niamh Gough try.


The exchanges were more even in the second half of this ten-a-side tournament but a try by the strong-running Susan Earner was gallant Buccs only consolation as the holders, faster and stronger, deservedly retained this trophy on a 59-12 scoreline. However, Buccaneers will have gained invaluable experience from their participation in this Cup that will surely benefit them in the forthcoming League.


BUCCANEERS:- T.Finnerty, S.Kelly, L. Stuart-Trainor (captain), A.Kemmy, G.Konstantyn, N.Gough, S.Egan, A.Hayes, N.Connell, S.Hennessy, K.Ryan, J.Dowling, D.Cromar, D.West and S.Earner. 




BUCCANEERS U-20’s also endured a torrid afternoon when going down to Dublin University 48-5 in their Leinster League qualifier played at windy Dubarry Park on Sunday. The visitors had the benefit of the breeze in the first half of this game too and it added to the homesters’ difficulties against a well-drilled and extremely mobile College side. With four of their squad playing with the Senior XV the previous afternoon, Buccs were missing a key spine to their side and their backrow trio must surely rank as one of the shortest fielded by the club. The powerful Students threatened at times to overrun the hosts who trailed 29-5 at the interval, a Darren Buckley try being their only reward for their gritty efforts.


Trinity scored four tries in the opening half and added another three after the break. Injuries did not help the home side’s cause but they battled gamely to the bitter end. Their unstinting endeavours are to be lauded against a side that was clearly a level above them in both size and slickness. Niall Murray and Michael Hanley led by example with Sean O’Connell, Eoghan Maher, Buckley and Eoin O’Reilly giving best assistance.


BUCCANEERS:- R.Convey; R.Murphy-Sweeney, C.McMahon, S.Hastings, K.Foxe; M.Hanley, E.O’Reilly; S.O’Connell, D.Buckley, E.Cooney; B.Collins (captain), J.Delahunt; K.Byrne, R.Enraght-Moony and E.Maher. Replacements used:- N.Murray, A.Obono, C.Daly, D.Farrelly and R.Teape. 




BUCCANEERS travel to Castle Avenue on Saturday to square up to Clontarf in the fourth round of the Ulster Bank League Division 1A, kick off 2.30 p.m. It’s never easy to get a result at this northside city ground but Buccs may get encouragement from Clontarf’s six try defeat away to Garryowen last weekend. That was surely the surprise scoreline as Buccs will feel they could well have won at Dooradoyle the previous week. Conversely, Tarf will undoubtedly have got a rollicking from their coaching team on the back of their under-performance so will be fired up to atone when the Pirates come to town.


Clontarf were Top Four finalists last term and have a solid pack led by lock Ben Reilly with prop Vakh Abdaladze popping up for a try here and there. Their main threat is in the backline with centre Matt Darcy and winger Max McFarlane having potency and pace as has place-kicking fullback Conor Jennings. Corkonian Sam Cronin and Tullamore’s David Joyce could be the metropolitans half-back pairing.


Buccs will be hugely frustrated to have no points on the league table to show for their sterling efforts to date. They warranted at least losing bonus points from all three games to date and indeed could well have secured wins particularly against both Limerick clubs. They need to maintain focus and concentration to the very end, and they are surely not far away from getting that greatly desired first win. Dan Law’s injury is the main concern in the Pirates’ pack while in the backline Alan Gaughan should be available although Luke Carty surely warrants another start at fly-half following last Saturday’s display.


BUCCANEERS U-20’s are also on the road to Dublin this weekend where they have a southside appointment with Blackrock in the Leinster League qualifiers at Stradbrook. This fixture has a 3 p.m. kick off on Sunday. These young Buccs could not repeat their heroics of overcoming Old Wesley when they came up against a very talented Dublin University squad. Injuries sustained against Trinity could impact on selection this weekend but these young players have a sound attitude and good work ethic so they won’t be undaunted when facing Rock.


BUCCANEERS SECONDS are away to Ballinasloe this Sunday (this scribe was a week ahead of himself in last week’s club notes!) in the Connacht Junior 1A League with the action at Moher Road scheduled to kick off at 2.30 p.m. Ballinasloe may have some difficulties at the moment but the prospect of a derby against Buccs is guaranteed to focus our neighbours. Hopefully, this Buccs squad will have taken advantage over the past fortnight to put in some hard work on the training paddock. They have some wily operators in Rory Grenham, Ruairi Byrne, Sean Flynn and Harry Hughes in their panel while Rossa Dooley, Trevor Phillips, James Foley, Hugh Ronaldson and Conor Morrissey have bags of potential. Buccs can get their league campaign moving with a win here but Alex Hayman’s charges must work from start to finish to earn it.  




It seems to be the season of nuptials in the club with Garreth Halligan and Carmel Daly the latest pair down the aisle. Congratulations!




Deepest sympathy is extended to David Connolly and family on the death of his mother Anne, to Tony Duignan and family on the death of his mother Olive, and to Geoffrey Foy and family on the death of his mother Annice. Heartfelt condolences also to Michael Curley and family on the recent passing of his sister Elizabeth Lynch.