BUCCANEERS 6 QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY 24 | News | Buccaneers Rugby Football Club Athlone

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published:Oct  07   2019

BUCCANEERS kicked off life in Division 2A of the Energia All-Ireland League with a very disappointing 24-6 home defeat to Queen’s University at rain sodden Dubarry Park on Saturday. Buccs fielded a massively changed squad for this encounter against the side they had played in their most recent AIL fixture, a play-off at the Athlone venue last May. The Pirates kicked off with only five starters from that match while Queen’s, fresh from their Ulster Cup triumph, were able to call on the bulk of their panel from last season.


Backs Callum Boland, Shane Layden, Corey Reid and Darragh Corbett all featured last May but Evan Galvin was the only forward to have played when the Students made their first ever visit to Athlone. Ruairi Byrne’s start to this game was delayed due to a head injury sustained in the warm-up that necessitated stitching, his belated introduction then bringing that number up to six. This was something that the homesters could well have done without, fielding a mainly youthful and inexperienced pack for this Dubarry of Ireland sponsored match.


Goncalo Caterino started while Byrne was being attended to bringing the number of last season’s U-20’s up to seven in the dreary drizzly conditions. Buccs began promisingly and led through a 10th minute Michael Hanley penalty. Ritchie McMaster levelled the scores with a penalty at the end of the opening quarter.


Buccaneers continued to work hard and forced a number of penalties which they punted to the Bounty corner. However in the increasingly greasy conditions, they failed to add to their tally despite a good spell of territory and possession. Then on 29 minutes David Whitten found a gap in the home defence following a pass that had more than a hint of forward to it and he sent Conor McKee in for a try between the posts. McMaster tapped over the straight-forward conversion to give the visitors a 10-3 half-time lead.


Within a minute of the restart, the Pirates conceded a soft penalty going off feet in midfield. Then debutant Christian Maulaulau was forced back over the Buccs line where referee Andrew Cole rather hastily awarded a five metre scrum to the Students. From this their pack drove over for a fortunate Whitten try converted by McMaster. Five minutes later, the Shannonsiders (who had had to withdraw Byrne by this stage due to his pre-match injury) were awarded a kickable penalty but elected to kick to touch on the left. No reward was gained from this but, as the rain now pelted down, Buccs applied a sustained spell of pressure that could not breach the College cover. Hanley reduced their arrears to 17-6 with a 55th minute penalty.


But that was as good as it got for Buccaneers and the northerners stretched their advantage with a penalty try ten minutes later. The Ulster side now chased a bonus point with a vengeance but, to their credit, Buccs defended resolutely to the bitter end at which stage Queen’s took the spoils on a 24-6 margin.


This was a difficult afternoon for the Pirates and the worsening weather conditions did not help the cause of their spirited but youthful side that also conceded height and weight to their opponents. Evan Galvin, Byrne and Darren Browne battled earnestly in the forwards exchanges while winger Corbett posed their biggest attacking threat. Buccs lack guile also and really must take a more pragmatic approach on occasion, particularly when kickable penalties are presented.


BUCCANEERS:- C.Boland;. T.McGann, S.Layden (captain), C.Reid, D.Corbett; M.Hanley, F.Hopkins; H.O’Reilly, D.Browne, M.Staunton; G.Caterino, T.Rensford; S.O’Connell, E.Galvin and C.Maulaulau. Replacements:- R.Byrne (for Caterino, 4 mins), G.Caterino (for Byrne, 45 mins), M.Murphy (for O’Reilly, 50 mins), R.Grenham (for Browne, 50 mins), E.O’Reilly (for McGann, 60 mins) and G.Fallon.


QUEEN’S UNIVERSITY:- M.Orr; E. Vale Falemaka, R.Bell, R.Johnston, Connor McKee; R.McMaster, Conor McKee; A.Lupari, D.Swann, T.Linton; J.McCay, J.Longwell; A.McGrath, C.Pollock and D.Whitten (captain). Replacements:- S.McMaster (for Bell, h/t), B.Pentland (for Swann, 60 mins), R.Gibson (for Linton, 60 mins), N.Woods (for Longwell, 60 mins) and M.Millar (for Lupari, 70 mins).


Referee:- Andrew Cole (IRFU).




In contrasting weather conditions to the previous afternoon, Buccaneers and new alliance Galwegians/Oughterard served up a competitive and finely balanced J.P.Fanagan Leinster U-20 Premier League 2 qualifier at Dubarry Park on Sunday. Played on the west pitch, which was being used for the first time this season, the visitors edged the verdict 13-12 and both clubs now qualify for the league proper.


On a positively balmy sunny day, conditions were perfect for this contest in which defences dominated. Buccs opened the scoring with an excellent 13th minute try. Danny Ennis made the initial break and Mark Tallon surged forward before Nathan Horan put in a clever chip over the defence. Fergus Galvin secured possession to send Harry Balsiger racing past three defenders for a try converted by Stephen Mannion.


The westerners opened their account following a penalty to the right corner after half an hour. A smart lineout move caught the hosts off-guard and impressive duo Nicholas Lawless and Ben McGuinness linked slickly with the lock showing good footwork to score in the corner. Matt Farrell was unable to convert so there was little between the teams at the interval with the Pirates 7-5 ahead.


A forward pass denied the visitors an early second half try but they were soon ahead. They were awarded a 50th minute penalty for an off the ball tackle and, with the home defence nodding off again, McGuinness seized the opportunity from a quickly tapped penalty to race in for his second unconverted try. But Buccaneers responded swifty and, following several good drives forward, Harry O’Reilly got over for a 55th minute try on the left that Mannion was unable to convert.


However the midlanders lead was short-lived with Farrell finally finding the range with his fourth kick at goal to edge Galwegians/Oughterard 13-12 ahead on the hour mark. Neither side could add to their tallies in a keenly contested final quarter and, on scoring opportunities countback, the visitors probably deserved their victory. Buccs were too often sluggish in moving the ball but the major part of their downfall was arguably the referee’s interpretation at scrumtime. Here the Athlone team had a clear and obvious superiority, yet time and again were penalised for unfathomable reasons. Liam Winnett and Mathias O’Neill were busy in the home pack with wings Balsiger and Ennis pick of the backline.


BUCCANEERS:- J.Nagle; D.Ennis, D.Mulvihill, J.Downes, H.Balsiger; S.Mannion, N.Horan; C.Daly, D.Browne (captain), H.O’Reilly; F.Galvin, M.Tallon; C.O’Grady, M.O’Neill and L.Winnett. Replacements:- R.Venter (for Mulvihill, inj. h/t), G.Caterino (for Galvin, h/t), K.Connolly (for Tallon, 52 mins), F.Galvin (for O’Grady, 73 mins), A.Obono (for Daly, 76 mins), R.Dempsey and M.Byrne.


GALWEGIANS/OUGHTERARD:- D.Reddan; M.Farrell, K.Smith, L.Cronin, B.Murphy; A.Cunningham, P.Butler; C.Duff, N.Lawless, M.Agbo; B.McSweeney, B.McGuinness; S.O’Sullivan, L.Smyth and S.Joyce. Replacements used:- E.Shekete, C.Gleeson, O.Finn, M.Archer and K.Waterman.


Referee:- Peter Gaughan (Connacht).




BUCCANEERS J1A’s are finding the going really tough and succumbed to a heavy 38-5 home defeat to Tuam in the Connacht Junior 1A League match played under floodlights at Dubarry Park on Saturday night. Buccs defence was outstanding in the first half led by Andrew McAleer with many big tackles. The Pirates opened the scoring with a super individual effort by Callum Forde from inside his own 22. But just before halftime, Tuam picked up a ball that popped out from a Buccs scrum and, one ruck later after a poor missed tackle, the visitors drew level 5-5 at the break.


Losing James Kelly, Jack Scoular and Eoghan O’Toole to injury by halftime led to a different story after the change of ends. This weakened the home scrum and lineout and Tuam availed to run in six tries, helped by two yellow cards to the homesters. Regardless of the enforced changes, the standard of defence overall is well below par and discipline must also improve.


BUCCANEERS:- G.Fallon; R.Murphy-Sweeney, R.Teape, A.McAleer, C.Forde; E.O’Toole, C.Loughrey; J.Kelly, R.Grenham, M.Murphy; J.Scouler, C.Harewood; L.Donnelly, R.Enraght-Moony (captain) and D.Touhy. Replacements:- E.Fuenmayor, G.O’Toole, D.McNamara, P.Daly and K.Foxe.




The relaunched J2 side fared little better when fitter and pacier Oughterard prevailed 35-10 in their Connacht Junior 2 League encounter also played at the busy Athlone venue on Saturday. Buccs fared reasonably well in the first half during which Adrian Hanley continued to roll back the years with a brace of tries. But indiscipline cost them dearly after the break and the visitors made it count.