BUCCANEERS 38 CORINTHIANS 28 | News | Buccaneers Rugby Football Club Athlone

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published:Sep  09   2019

14-man Buccaneers scored a tonic 38-28 bonus point victory over leaders Galway Corinthians in their Connacht Senior League match played in ideal conditions under the Dubarry Park floodlights on Friday night. This was a quite entertaining and lively affair between two youthful squads with Buccs making six changes from their opening game at Sligo.


Eoghan O’Reilly and Martin Staunton did not start due to injuries sustained at Hamilton Park while Callum Boland had GAA commitments. The Pirates had four changes in their backline where they were bolstered by first starts from Shane Layden, Darragh Corbett, Corey Reid and Frankie Hopkins. Meanwhile their front row had a fresh-faced look about it comprising of Harry O’Reilly, Darren Browne and Matthew Murphy. A crossfield breeze that died by halftime was the only hindrance for the players on a dark but mild evening.


Buccaneers opened the scoring after just 6 minutes. Following a penalty punted to the left, possession was won and good recycling saw the ball transferred to the opposite flank where Thomas McGann displayed his finishing prowess for a try converted by Michael Hanley. Corinthians bulkier pack then pressurised the homesters with a series of close-in scrums that yielded a 15th minute penalty try.


Buccs responded swiftly following a move initiated by a Layden burst on the right and, after Browne was held up just short, his fellow front-rower O’Reilly powered over for a 23rd minute try on the left flank. Hanley landed a smashing conversion.

Corinthians retorted within four minutes, Craig Hansberry applying the finishing touch for a pushover try near the left corner. Simon Keller added a splendid conversion to level the scores 14-14.


Five minutes before halftime, Mark McDermott rashly denied Hopkins a quick tap and go penalty and referee Karol Collins yellow carded the visiting outhalf. Hanley’s resultant penalty brought Buccs close to the Corinthians line and, following the lineout, the midlanders applied a spell of sustained pressure before the ball was popped back to Corbett who side-stepped Hansberry to notch a 37th minute try. Hanley’s conversion rebounded off an upright and, in the final move of the half, Aditya Donovan evaded the fly-half’s meek challenge to send Micheal O’Reilly scampering away for a try. Keller’s successful conversion completed the first half action at which stage Corinthians led 21-19.


Within two minutes of the restart, Hanley made amends when initiating a swift counter attack carried on by Rory O’Connor to link up with McGann whose deft grubber kick unlocked the defence and Layden fastened on to the opportunity to ground the ball for a bonus point try converted by Hanley. Rory Moloney replaced teenager Goncalo Catarino on 46 minutes but within four minutes he incurred a red card following the intervention of a touch-judge.


Corinthians promptly added to the hosts problems with the ensuing penalty giving them a foothold in home territory and, after some slick handling, Rory Murphy dived over for a 52nd minute try converted by Keller for a 28-26 lead. This presented a serious challenge for the title holders but they responded with wonderful spirit and work rate. Graham Lynch was introduced for Hopkins as the hour mark approached and he made an instant impact, his sniping break making good ground and then displaying dogged persistence in retaining possession before off-loading to Corbett who scooted in for a 61st minute try. Hanley’s conversion nosed Buccs 33-28 ahead but there was still a long way to go for the Athlone side’s depleted forces.


Staunton, James Kelly and Darren Buckley all entered the fray and it was Buccaneers who built momentum. Some terrific pressure looked likely to breach the Corinthians rearguard but an ill-judged grubber kick spoiled a real scoring opportunity when more patience was required. But the Pirates continued to make life difficult for the Tribesmen and they forced a forward pass to regain possession. A magnificent scrum enabled Lynch to deliver a snappy pass to his left and Layden surged in for an unconverted 78th minute try to complete the 38-28 winning margin.


This was an uplifting performance by Buccaneers who again gave youth its fling with Sean O’Connell prominent in his switch from tighthead prop at Sligo to blindside forward on this occasion. Ruairi Byrne and Torin Rensford dominated the second row exchanges and the inexperienced front row trio got to grips with their opponents as the contest progressed. The backline was lively throughout and always carried a scoring threat, five of the side’s six tries reflecting that. On the downside too much possession was turned over in the first half while a little more measured patience would benefit Buccs. But these are areas that can be improved on on the training paddock. Meanwhile Corinthians will reflect on this as a missed opportunity to put themselves within touching distance of securing the league title, particularly when they had an extra man for half an hour, but the bonus point they earned could yet proved decisive.


BUCCANEERS:- S.Layden (captain); T.McGann, R.O’Connor, C.Reid, D.Corbett; M.Hanley, F.Hopkins; H.O’Reilly, D.Browne, M.Murphy; R.Byrne, T.Rensford; S.O’Connell, G.Catarino and E.Galvin. Replacements:- R.Moloney (for Catarino, 46 mins), J.Kelly (for O’Reilly, 58 mins), G.Lynch (for Hopkins, 58 mins), M.Staunton (for Murphy, 68 mins), D.Buckley (for Browne, 70 mins) and G.Fallon.


CORINTHIANS:- S.Keller; M.O’Reilly, A.Donovan, Dan Keane, C.McDonald; M.McDermott, J.Whyte; G.Noone, H.Wood-Hennessy, R.Murphy; C.Hansberry, C.Raftery; E.Byrne, M.O’Brien and C.Huxford. Replacements:- J.Noone, Daniel Keane, A.Broderick, J.Comer, P.Gavin, C.O’Sullivan and C.Delargy (all used).


Referee:- K.Collins (Connacht).




BUCCANEERS travel west on Saturday to take on Galwegians in the Connacht Senior League at Crowley Park with the action getting under way at 3.30 p.m. This should be an interesting contest between two arch rivals in the province who appear to be building from grassroots this season as they endeavour to gain momentum.


Galwegians had a narrow 18-12 opening day defeat in a derby duel at Corinthians but they showed resilience and desire when earning a 26-20 bonus point victory away to Ballina last Sunday. This leaves them just one point adrift of Buccs who share second place with Sligo. The north-westerners visit pace-setters Corinthians so this looks like a pivotal weekend in the league.


Buccs will surely continue varying permutations with Rory Moloney unlikely to be available following his red card last Friday. However, Callum Boland is likely to be available while Martin Staunton and Eoghan O’Reilly could be fit for duty against Wegians.




BUCCANEERS Junior 1A side commence their season with a home Connacht Junior 1A League encounter against Monivea on Sunday. This game gets under way in Dubarry Park at 2.30 p.m. Traditionally games between the two clubs have been lively tussles but at this early stage it is difficult to predict. Here Buccs will again give youth its chance possibly bolstered by experienced and able operators such as Rory Grenham, Sean Flynn, Gerard Fallon, Owen Treacy, Gavin O’Toole and Dean McMahon.