BUCCANEERS RELEGATED | News | Buccaneers Rugby Football Club Athlone

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published:Apr  09   2018



Despite another spirited and committed showing, Buccaneers went down 22-10 to Garryowen in their Ulster Bank League Division 1A match at Dubarry Park on Saturday. Victory for the Limerick side keeps them in the Top Four ahead of next week’s final round of fixtures but defeat means the Pirates sink back to Division 1B which they won in such exhilarating style last season.


Buccaneers made just two changes for this must win match. Jordan Conroy made his first home appearance of the season with Callum Boland switching to centre in place of the injured Rory Scholes. Simon Meagher returned after injury to the second row with Ruairi Byrne now on the bench. Meanwhile, Garryowen had the luxury of their returning Munster A players as they made five changes. The immensely promising Bill Johnston was preferred at outhalf to Jamie Gavin, who was now among the replacements, while the former’s brother David was replaced by Hugh O’Brien-Cunningham in the centre. Diarmuid Barron, who scored two tries when introduced at Clontarf, got the nod at hooker with Tim Ferguson and Sean Rennison restored to the back row.


The Limerick side set the pace and manner of this Glenroyal Hotel sponsored tie played on a dull but mild afternoon with little breeze. The visitors opened the scoring following a series of pick and goes through a 16th minute Neil Cronin penalty. But Buccs struck back within three minutes. Last season’s leading try scorer in the AIL Conroy streaked away for a stunning try showing the firepower that has been greatly missed by the Athlone club. Conor McKeon converted for a 7-3 lead.


Following a brief but unmerciful hailstones deluge, Garryowen regained the lead after 32 minutes. Luke Carty scrambled back to go down on a ball close to the home line and Garryowen’s Liam Coombes was all over the home fullback, not allowing him back to his feet. A relieving penalty should have been the outcome but not so indicated referee Nigel Correll. He mystifyingly awarded the Munster side a five metre scrum from which Ferguson was driven over for a try which Cronin (brother of Ireland hooker Sean) converted. This was just one of many decisions to go against the Pirates throughout the season and it was crucial in giving the visitors a lift at a vital stage.


Then in the final move of the half, Garryowen were awarded a penalty following an indisciplined Buccs tackle. Cronin punted to the right corner and, following the lineout, Barron was mauled over for a try and the scrumhalf’s second successful conversion earned a 17-7 lead for the visitors at the interval.


Buccaneers had a good third quarter and had the light blues on the back foot but could only muster McKeon’s 47th minute penalty to narrow the arrears. Garryowen, displaying a more clinical edge, secured an unconverted try in what was really their first meaningful attack of the second half when Johnston stretched over the home line on 62 minutes.


Led by skipper for the day Paul Boyle and AUDI ATHLONE man of the match Cian Romaine, Buccaneers battled to the bitter end but lacked the power, precision and patience to unlock the more seasoned Limerick side’s stout defending. The visitors were the physically stronger and more cohesive outfit, well marshalled by Cronin, who displayed why he has been signed by Munster for the coming season. The away win keeps Garryowen in a Top Four berth, now just one point ahead of Clontarf.


Meanwhile, it is straight back down to Division 1B as defeat confirmed Buccaneers relegation despite the best efforts of a squad short on experience, bulk and numbers. However, the players played with commendable gumption and commitment throughout and they will have learned from the harsh lessons against the best clubs in the country. If Buccaneers can retain the bulk of these mainly young and promising players, allayed to some astute recruiting, they can make a strong bid for a swift return to the top flight.


BUCCANEERS:- L.Carty; D.Corbett, C.Boland, B.Carty, J.Conroy; A.Gaughan, C.McKeon; M.Staunton, J.Sutton, C.O’Donnell; D.Law, C.Romaine; S.Meagher, E.Galvin and P.Boyle (captain). Replacements:- C.Kenny (for O’Donnell, 24 mins), C.O’Donnell (for Kenny, inj. 42 mins), R.Grenham, R.Byrne, G.Lynch and F.Hopkins.


GARRYOWEN:- A.O’Byrne; L.Coombes, H.O’Brien-Cunningham, D.McCarthy, B.Fitzgerald; B.Johnston, N.Cronin (captain); N.Horan, D.Barron, A.Keating; S.O’Connor, D.Moore; T.Ferguson, J.Daly and S.Rennison. Replacements:- D.Ryan (for Rennison, 43 mins), B.Rowley (for Keating, 48 mins), M.Wilson (for Daly, 62 mins), J.Gavin (for Johnston, 65 mins), A.Keating (for Horan, 66 mins) and L.Cronin.


Referee:- Nigel Correll (IRFU).




BUCCANEERS U-20’s also endured extreme frustration when they were pipped by Navan 26-24 in their Purcell Cup quarter-final contested at Dubarry Park on Sunday. Both teams showed tremendous commitment and no little skill in the most difficult of conditions.


With no recent fixture, Buccs were rusty in the opening quarter when the weather was benign but, nevertheless, they opened the scoring with a smartly taken Frankie Hopkins try converted by Michael Hanley. Navan, who play a division above the Athlonians, then took over to score three tries for a 19-7 lead. Then the heavens opened and the rain absolutely bucketed down for about 15 minutes. As the players splished and splashed in the most challenging of conditions, Buccs got back into the game with Thomas McGann’s chase earning him a try and then Hopkins slalomed in for his second touchdown to leave Buccs just 19-17 adrift at a welcome halftime break for all participants.


In the worsening conditions, the teams agreed for a 20 minutes second half and the Pirates regained the lead on 48 minutes when Navan failed to deal with a crossfield kick on their ten metre line. McGann pounced to kick ahead and then calmly grubbered on to slide in for his second try which Hanley converted. Seven minutes later, Navan were back in front when a trio of Buccs players broke their line but failed to make a tackle and the Meath men edged ahead with a converted try.


Then two minutes from time, Buccaneers were desperately unlucky when Hanley’s penalty from the ten metre line rebounded into play off an upright and Navan held on to win 26-24. Both squads warrant praise for their endeavours with Brian Collins, Sean O’Connell and Liam Donnelly doing Trojan work in the home pack while the lively Hopkins, the tidy Hanley and strong-running centre Conor Burns caught the eye in the backline for this Buccs squad whose season is now at an end.


BUCCANEERS:- M.Hanley; E.O’Reilly, R.Murphy-Sweeney, C.Burns, T.Appleby; S.Hastings, F.Hopkins; J.Kelly, D.Buckley, S.O’Connell; B.Collins (captain), A.Shine-Lynch; K.Wheatley-Byrne, R.Enraght-Moony and L.Donnelly. Replacements:- T.McGann (for O’Reilly), E.Cooney (for Wheatley-Byrne), J.Delahunt (for Shine-Lynch), A.Obono, D.O’Rourke, K.Foxe and K.Czerniak.


Referee:- S.Ryan (Connacht).