Buccs pipped on Final Day | News | Buccaneers Rugby Football Club Athlone

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Buccs pipped on Final Day

published:Apr  23   2012

RUGBY with MICHAEL SILKE

BRUFF 20              BUCCANEERS 18
B.Cahill (try, con & pen)            D.Qualter (try), P.Harte (try)
M.Cosgrove (try) & J.Shine (try)        J.Carty (2 pen & con)

Daniel Qualter wins this lineout Daniel Qualter is well supported by Martin Staunton and Diarmuid Higgins as he wins this lineout for Buccaneers at Bruff

BUCCANEERS went down narrowly 20-18 to Bruff in their final Ulster Bank League Division 1B fixture of the season at Kilballyowen Park, Bruff, on Saturday. This was a ding-dong duel contested with Cup fervour in which a share of the spoils would perhaps have been the fairest outcome. However, Bruff absolutely needed to win and their gritty endeavours were rewarded when Brian Cahill’s late penalty edged them to a tight victory that preserved their Division 1B status.

Buccs were again forced to field a much-changed side and, indeed,  the midlanders were not able to field the same XV for even two successive matches this season! Backs John O’Brien, Shane Layden and Conor Lavelle were ruled out through injury while forwards Eoghan Grace and David Heffernan were not available. Padraig de Burca and Luke Satchwell lined out in the backrow with Adam Kennedy starting in the centre, Conor Finn and Callum Boland returning on the wings while Paul Harte switched to fullback. A hard surface, showers and a tricky crossfield breeze made for testing playing conditions for both teams in front of a partisan crowd.

Buccs made the early running with Tom O’Callaghan needing to be alert to deny Alex Hayman as he followed up Kennedy’s cute fifth minute grubber kick. The Pirates sustained a setback after just 12 minutes when James Tormey, who had flown in from the USA, sustained a neck injury and he was replaced by Rory Byrne. The visitors had lots of territory and they eventually reaped some reward when Jack Carty slotted over a well-judged 16th minute penalty. Two minutes later, however, Buccs had a let-off when Carty’s clearance on his own 22 was blocked down but referee Mark Patton deemed it a knock on by Bruff, much to the chagrin of the home supporters. Soon afterwards de Burca did well to break away from an under pressure scrum near halfway and Australia-bound Harte raided excellently down the left evading a number of tacklers before deftly off-loading to Daniel Qualter who powered over for a 20th minute try that Carty surprisingly did not convert. But Buccs were good value for their 8-0 advantage.

Bruff were back in the contest within five minutes when Brian Cahill wrong-footed the Pirates defence and the outhalf surged in for a try at the posts which he converted to leave just a single point between the sides. The hits were hard in a frenetic encounter and Garreth Halligan sustained a quad injury that necessitated his being called ashore with rookie Enda O’Brien replacing the influential hooker after 28 minutes. Two minutes later, Carty was indecisive in possession inside his 22, coughing up a cheap penalty in front of the posts but, incredibly, Bruff knocked on when attempting a quick tap, much to the relief of the visitors.

Kolo Kiripati, Hayman and Qualter were in the vanguard of some fine attacking play by Buccaneers just before halftime and, when the ball was transferred to the right, that finisher supreme Harte (who had scored Buccs first try of the season at home to Bruff) was once again up in support to grab his eight try of the campaign. Carty landed an excellent conversion to put Buccaneers 15-7 ahead at the break.

Buccs made a bright start to the second half but a poor pass robbed Carty of a decent drop goal opportunity while the outhalf’s 44th minute penalty from the left tailed wide. With news filtering in of the other halftime scores, Bruff (all too aware of their need to win) were more urgent and, after punting a penalty to touch on the right, their pack drove over the midlanders’ line with John Shine being credited with the touchdown. Cahill’s conversion attempt was off-target but the Limerickmen’s pack was now getting a grip on the proceedings and, after a concerted spell of pressure including a series of scrums, substitute Mark Cosgrove was diving over in the right corner for a 57th minute try. Although Cahill’s conversion tailed wide, Bruff now had their noses in front 17-15.

But Buccs, who had now utilised their full bench, continued to battle and ten minutes later a fine Carty penalty (that brought his AIL points tally to 153 for the campaign) had them back in the lead by the minimum margin. However, outhalf Cahill (whose family have given the modest Limerick club sterling service) was the hero when he edged Bruff back in front with a coolly taken penalty from the right. Buccs had a late chance to grab a third try but the final pass lacked the necessary sharpness and the scoring opportunity evaporated.

So Bruff celebrated a first but oh so vital win over Buccaneers to avoid relegation and they will again continue to punch above their weight in Division 1B next season. As with last season, Buccaneers faded in the run-in and, although securing a losing bonus point, they dropped two places to sixth in the final league standings. Having topped the table earlier in the season, this was somewhat disappointing after last year’s third place finish. But regular lengthy absentee lists, mainly through injuries and representative calls, ruined continuity in the squad. Nevertheless, Buccaneers is now Connacht’s only club in the top flight of club rugby next season. Harte was again topclass for Buccs (he will be sorely missed), Hayman and Kiripati had good spells, with Higgins and Mark Dolan also putting in solid shifts.

In a final day of swaying fortunes, UL Bohemian defeated Belfast Harlequins to snatch automatic promotion to Division 1A. Quins now face last year’s champions Old Belvedere in a one-off relegation/promotion match. Blackrock College are relegated to Division 1B with Galwegians joining UCC in the drop to Division 2A from where Dublin University and Malone are promoted.  

BUCCANEERS:-  P.Harte; C.Boland, A.Hayman, A.Kennedy, C.Finn; J.Carty, M.Dolan; M.Staunton, G.Halligan, D.Higgins; J.Tormey, D.Qualter; P.de Burca, L.Satchwell and K.Kiripati (captain). Replacements:-  R.Byrne (for Tormey, inj. 12 mins), E.O’Brien (for Halligan, inj. 28 mins), S.Reilly (for Staunton, 37 mins), M.Staunton (for Reilly, 55 mins), C.FitzGibbon (for Boland, 62 mins), B.Digby (for Kennedy, 62 mins) and S.Reilly (for Higgins, inj. 70 mins).

BRUFF:-   B.Deady; T.O’Callaghan, A.Cashman, J.Carroll, P.O’Brien; B.Cahill, E.Maher; D.Horan, C.O’Regan, C.O’Sullivan; M.O’Connell (captain), B.Morrissey; A.Bourke, J.Shine and M.Carroll. Replacements:-  M.Cosgrove (for O’Brien, inj. 21 mins), S.Foster (for O’Sullivan, 34 mins), P.Cleary (for O’Connell, h/t), J.Hogan (for O’Regan, 48 mins) and T.Cahill (for Carroll, 48 mins).

REFEREE:-  Mark Patton (Ulster).