DUBLIN UNIVERSITY 21 BUCCANEERS 17 | News | Buccaneers Rugby Football Club Athlone

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published:Feb  20   2018


Despite another highly promising start, Buccaneers once again could not close out a game as they lost narrowly 21-17 to Dublin University in their Ulster Bank League Division 1A basement battle at College Park, Dublin, on Saturday. In this absolutely “must win” encounter for both clubs, the Pirates made a perfect start but most disappointingly failed to add to their tally in the second half. They continue to prop up the league table, eight points adrift of St. Mary’s College, whom Dublin University have moved above giving Trinity a great chance to avoid relegation.


Buccaneers made five changes for this crunch encounter. In the pack Conor Kenny returned to the front row and Simon Meagher in the back row with Conan O’Donnell and Ruairi Byrne on the bench. Conor McKeon was available to slot in at scrumhalf with Graham Lynch listed among the substitutes while both wings were changed. Callum Boland returned after his injury fractured season and former Ulster player Rory Scholes debuted on the right flank. Despite shipping two heavy losses in their previous two fixtures, Dublin University made minimal changes and included Angus Lloyd, Jack McDermott and Paddy Finlay who have been named in the Ireland Clubs squad to tackle Scotland in Athlone next Friday night.


Buccs got off to a flyer in front of a big crowd, that included a bus load of Pirate lady supporters, in near perfect conditions with the lively McKeon intercepting smartly in the opening minute to race in for an opportunist try that he converted excellently from wide on the left. Twelve minutes later, Martin Staunton and Evan Galvin led a drive over the home line and how referee Leo Colgan deemed that the ball was held up was baffling. However, the midlanders were utterly dominant in the opening quarter and their sustained pressure yielded further reward when Cian Romaine had sufficient elasticity to stretch over for a 16th minute try. McKeon again converted and Buccs were full value for their 14-0 early advantage.


But Trinity got back into the game when Evan Dixon’s break (their first significant inroads into the visitors’ territory) was carried on by Alex MacDonald and the American lock romped in for a 19th minute try between the posts making Jack Kelly’s conversion a certainty. Kelly and McKeon traded penalties before the Students scored an uplifting timely try. After the referee had words with Trinity’s Lloyd and Buccs Dan Law, College punted a penalty to the left corner Following the lineout, Sam Pim was driven over for an unconverted try in the final move of the half to leave Trinity only 17-15 in arrears at the break although Buccs had dominated much the greater portion of the half.


The midlanders were forced to make an early second half change with Rory O’Connor coming on for the injured Boland and they had an opportunity to edge five points ahead after 52 minutes but McKeon’s 35-metre penalty rebounded off the near upright. In a fast flowing contest, Buccaneers seemed to be getting back on top and applied huge pressure at the three quarters stage. They pounded the home line and the hosts defended commendably, although James Bollard got away with coming in from the side to boot the ball clear on one occasion, while fullback Kelly just got to a chip ahead before Ben Carty could ground the inviting ball.


However, once they had weathered that particular storm, the Students were swiftly attacking at the other end and it was now Buccs turn to tidy up from a kick ahead. Then Shane Layden got caught in two minds attempting an ill-judged quick restart and was caught in possession, coughing up a soft 63rd minute penalty which Tommy Whittle despatched to put Dublin University ahead for the first time. Four minutes later Conan O’Donnell was yellow carded for slowing possession illegally and substitute Whittle’s second successful penalty meant Buccs now had to chase a third try.


Nevertheless they again piled forward and penned the Students inside the home 22 but College seemed to get the vital breaks –- and a couple of debatable officiating decisions –- as Buccaneers strove desperately for a match-winning score. However, the Athlone side just could not penetrate a steadfast Trinity defensive effort as College held out for a priceless victory.


The Dublin University players put their bodies on the line to hang on for their win and owed much also to the probing of scrumhalf Lloyd. Sebastian Fromm was another lively back while the effervescent Finlay led his pack by example. The Buccs players could not be faulted for effort and commitment but a lack of real leadership and sheer hardness hinders their cause. Law, Romaine and McKeon were most prominent but, with just four fixtures remaining, relegation is now surely looming for the Pirates.


DUBLIN UNIVERSITY:-J.Kelly; E.Dixon, M.Courtney (captain), K.Dixon, S.Fromm; J.McDermott, A.Lloyd; J.Bollard, P.Finlay, J.Byrne; J.Burke, A.MacDonald; S.Pim, D.St.Ledger and T.Ryan. Replacements:-T.Whittle (for McDermott, 56 mins), M.Kelly (for Byrne, 63 mins), M.Kearney (for St.Ledger, 66 mins), J.Horan and R.Osborne.


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


Referee:- Leo Colgan (IRFU).




Champions Castlebar made sure not to slip up a second time when they defeated Buccaneers 24-5 in the semi-final of the Connacht Womens League at Cloondeash on Sunday.


The Buccs girls paid for a slow start as the homesters forged 15-0 ahead by halftime. The Pirate lasses fared much better in the second period during which Sarah Kelly scored their try. After their sluggish opening the Athlone ladies put in a terrific defensive effort throughout and the winning margin did not truly reflect the on-field exchanges. Buccs focus now turns to the Cup in which they meet Carrick-On-Shannon at Dubarry Park on Sunday week.


BUCCANEERS:- K.Wildy; M.Streilbo, A.Hennessy, S.Ni Saoraigh, N.Connell; S.Egan, D.West; S.Kelly, J.Dowling, K.Ryan; L.Stuart-Trainor (captain), D.Cromar; T.Finnerty, T.Rohan and A.Ni Aodha. Replacements:- O.Glynn, A.Kemmy and M.Kiripati.