BUCCS win Connacht U-17 Plate final | News | Buccaneers Rugby Football Club Athlone

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BUCCS win Connacht U-17 Plate final

published:May  07   2018



An impressive Buccaneers squad proved too strong and savvy for Creggs as the Athlone side captured the Connacht U-17 Plate silverware 29-7 in an entertaining decider played at The Green, Creggs, on Sunday. On an absolutely and long overdue gorgeous sunny afternoon, conditions were near perfect for this final and a large attendance added greatly to the occasion at the border village.


Buccs may have been slight favourites but Creggs won the toss for home advantage for this derby duel. The hosts would have been hoping that this might give them an edge but the young Pirates made a perfect start. A swashbuckling break by Ben Costello saw the lock make huge yardage and he offloaded to the supporting Harry Balsiger on the left from where the ball was moved smartly acrossfield and Darragh Murray romped in for a 2nd minute try. Although Mikey Byrne was unable to convert, this early score settled nerves in the visitors’ ranks.


Buccs continued to pose problems for the westerners but knock-ons spoiled a couple of good opportunities, such handling errors and some impatience hindering the Shannonsiders endeavours to add to their tally. Creggs were forced to put in a massive defensive shift and rarely got out of their half.


A mazy run by fullback Balsiger caused panic in the home ranks and led to a 27th minute penalty in front of the posts which outhalf Byrne slotted over. Buccaneers piled on intensive pressure coming up to halftime and sterling Creggs defending held them up on the line no less than three times before the break. Buccs should really have been comfortably ahead at the interval but instead their lead was a slender 8-0 after the opening 35 minutes.


The midlanders were now playing up the slight slope on the change of ends and Creggs restarted the brighter. For a while it seemed that perhaps Buccaneers might pay for their profligacy but a yellow card would soon cost Creggs dearly. The impressive Balsinger and John Why combined smartly on 43 minutes to split the home defence and it took a wild but high tackle by the home fullback to deny scrumhalf Why a certain try. With the Creggs fullback in the sin bin, Buccs finally translated their territorial dominance on to the scoreboard.


Under pressure, Mark Purcell’s clearance did not find touch and Balsinger, Cameron Digan and Cillian O’Sullivan dove-tailed nicely to send Jack Scouler scampering in from 25 metres for an 46th minute try. Buccs now upped their tempo further and the highly impressive Murray weaved his way in for a try three minutes later. From the restart, skipper Murray completed his hat-trick of tries, loping through the cover for a stunning score. Byrne converted all three tries in this six minutes scoring blitz and with Buccaneers now 29-0 ahead there would be no miraculous comeback by ever willing Creggs.


But the homesters continued to battle and a final move of the match try by flyhalf Purcell, which he also converted, was the very least the gallant losers warranted as Buccaneers took the honours on a 29-7 margin. Buccs were stronger and slicker all round and had more options against a younger Creggs outfit. Murray led by example, his turn of pace being deceptive and his lineout work imperious. Flanker Scouler and lock Costello also stood out in an excellent effort by the Pirates pack. Balsiger was hugely exciting at fullback, his runs being a constant thorn in Creggs cause. Halfbacks Byrne and Why were neat and efficient and the O’Sullivan’s (not related) were solid and busy in the centre. Overall it was a splendid squad display by Buccaneers and, allayed to the recent double by the club’s U-18.5 team, augurs well for the future.


Creggs can also take considerable pride from their contribution, on and off the pitch, to the final on a hot afternoon. They too have lots of promising talent in their ranks. After the match, Adrian Leddy presented the trophy on behalf of Connacht Rugby to victorious captain Darragh Murray.


BUCCANEERS:- H.Balsiger; J.Martin, C.O’Sullivan, S.O’Sullivan, C.Digan; M.Byrne, J.Why; R.Muldoon, E.Gallagher, T.Devery; B.Dalton, B.Costello; M.Fallon, J.Scouler and D.Murray (captain). Replacements:- L.Laosvilli (for Devery), D.Butler (for Laosvilli, inj.), K.Colgan (for Martin), A.Kenny (for Digan), M.Butler (for Murray), S.Ward (for Muldoon) and S.Greene (for Dalton).


Referee:- Mark Fitzgerald (Connacht).