Naas too strong for depleted Buccs but U-20's tops in qualifier | News | Buccaneers Rugby Football Club Athlone

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Naas too strong for depleted Buccs but U-20's tops in qualifier

published:Oct  09   2018



BUCCANEERS lost for the first time this season when going down 36-13 to Naas in the opening round of the All-Ireland League Division 1B played at Dubarry Park, Athlone, on Saturday. Naas, the physically stronger and more settled side, merited their win albeit the final margin did not fully reflect the endeavours of a depleted Pirates crew.


On a glorious sunny afternoon conditions were near ideal for players and spectators alike, a crossfield breeze being the only quandary for the teams. Buccaneers had four AIL debutants in their starting XV including teenage duo Michael Hanley and Colm Reilly at halfback while Torin Rensford and Owen Treacy were stepping up a level in the home pack. Meanwhile Naas had seasoned campaigners in Johne Murphy, Fionn Carr, Paulie Tolofua and Adam Coyle in their side.


The visitors were quickly into their stride and Peter Hastie finished off smart early play for an unconverted try after just two minutes. Buccs replied almost immediately with a Callum Boland snipe but Peter Osborne got across to deny Rory O’Connor grounding the centre’s chip ahead. A wild Tolofua tackle on Rensford yielded a penalty which Hanley converted sweetly from the ten metre line to open Buccs account at the end of the first quarter.


The Athlonians were then punished when a clearance went directly into touch. This gave Naas a foothold on the right and, when possession was transferred to Andrew Ellis, the imposing winger swatted his way through a number of porous tackles for a soft 26th minute try which Osborne converted from left of the uprights for a 12-3 lead.


Seven minutes later Rory Moloney’s rampage forward earned a penalty just inside the opposition’s 22. Reilly snappily tapped and hared over the line to catch the visitors’ napping and Hanley duly converted this enterprising try. This score instilled belief and energy in the homesters but they were to rue not being able to add a brace of tries in a lively finish to the half. A clever angled kick by Reilly forced the Kildare men to concede a lineout close to their line. O’Connor quickly threw the ball in to Boland but the combined efforts of Fionn Higgins and Ross Bailey-Kearney held him out. Then in the dying embers of the half, when Boland sent O’Connor scurrying forward again in The Bounty corner, Murphy did just enough to force the home winger into touch with the line in his sights. Half-time arrived with Naas 12-10 to the good.


Two minutes into the second half, another high tackle earned a penalty which Hanley calmly struck between the posts to put Buccaneers 13-12 ahead. However, five minutes later, John Sutton was singled out for a visit to the sin bin as Buccs brought down a maul close to their line. Naas promptly added further discomfort when Osborne broke from the base of a scrum to dive over for a 49th minute try which he also converted.


Referee Oisin Quinn finally flashed yellow to Naas just before the hour mark when he binned Coyle due to an accumulation of infringements by the visitors. But it was Naas who struck for the next score when the powerful Ellis careered through for his second try. Osborne converted this bonus point try and he added a 70th minute penalty to ease his side further ahead 29-13.


Shortly afterwards Rensford was yellow carded for a clumsy tackle (yet Naas had five penalties for high tackles awarded against them but, despite two chats with their captain, no sin binnings resulted which puzzled home fans) and in the final minute Cillian Dempsey was mauled over the line for a try converted by Osborne that completed Naas’ 36-13 winning margin. Naas were deserving winners and victory sees them top the leaderboard. But depleted Buccs can take heart from their efforts and, had they got a better return from their first half try opportunities, the outcome might have been different. Moloney was the outstanding player on the field, earning the Audi Athlone Man of the Match accolade. The home pack battled to the bitter end while a backline that featured assistant coach Aidan Wynne in the centre and a number of other players operating out of position will have learned from this experience. Here the youthful and compact duo of Reilly and Hanley warrant commendation.


BUCCANEERS:- G.Lynch; R.O’Connor, C.Boland, A.Wynne, D.Corbett; M.Hanley, C.Reilly; M.Staunton, J.Sutton, N.Farrelly; T.Rensford, E.Galvin; O.Treacy, R.Moloney (captain) and S.Meagher. Replacements:- H.O’Reilly (for Farrelly, 32 mins), N.Farrelly (for O’Reilly, 49 mins), H.O’Reilly (for Farrelly, 71 mins), E.Maher (for Treacy, 47/57 mins), T.McGann (for O’Connor, inj. 69 mins), R.Flanagan and F.Hopkins.


NAAS:- F.Higgins; A.Ellis, F.Carr, R.Bailey-Kearney, J.Murphy; P.Hastie, P.Osborne; C.Doyle, G.Reynolds, A.Coyle; M.Russell, D.Benn; C.Dempsey, W.O’Brien and P.Tolofua (captain). Replacements:- R.Casey (for Russell, h/t), R.Campbell (for Dempsey, h/t), C.Dempsey (for Benn, 60 mins), P.Dargan (for Bailey-Kearney, 69 mins), C.Duff (for Reynolds, 71 mins) and J.Barry (for Doyle, 71 mins)


Referee:- Oisin Quinn (IRFU).




BUCCANEERS and Galwegians served up thrilling fare in their J.P.Fanagan Leinster U-20 Premier League qualifier contested at breezy Dubarry Park on Sunday. In a game of swaying fortunes, Buccs finished that bit stronger to clinch the vital 32-29 victory that earns them a place in Division 2. The young Pirates also edged the try count, scoring five to the visitors’ four.


The first of the nine tries arrived after 12 minutes. Dermot O’Rourke popped the ball to Tom Appleby who off-loaded to Thomas McGann and the home winger zigged and zagged his way through bemused Wegians cover for a splendid try between the uprights. Sean Flynn added the conversion. Buccs did not make the most of the assistance of a significant breeze in the opening half and the Tribesmen, retaining possession well, went through the phases to reply with a 21st minute Barry Walshe unconverted try. Straight from the restart Buccs forced a penalty which Flynn slotted over for a 10-5 lead.


A McGann kick ahead almost yielded a second home try but it arrived soon afterwards when McGann flashed on to Flynn’s delicate chip over the cover for 26th minute touchdown with the diminutive outhalf adding the extras. Buccs defensive side was then called into action with Conor Watt and Fergus Galvin to the fore in repelling a Wegians onslaught. Buccaneers dearly needed another score before the change of ends and it duly arrived in the final move. A sublime Flynn kick to touch on the left put pressure on the visitors and Watt robbed possession from a Wegians player to send Winnett powering through for a try. Despite Flynn being surprisingly off-target with this conversion, Buccs had a 22-5 advantage at the interval but would it be enough?


Galwegians began the second half strongly and Neil Mulcahy scooted in for a 49th minute try. But Dylan Hamill was wide with the conversion and an earlier penalty and his place-kicking woes continued when Cian Gleeson narrowed the arrears further with a 61st minute try on the left. The sides were level just four minutes later, however, when Dylan Walsh burst in for a try on the right and Hamill finally found the range to tie the scores at 22-22.


Two crunching tackles on scrumhalf O’Rourke then got the homesters dander up and Galvin was involved a couple of times before he surged over for an unconverted 69th minute try wide on the left. Five minutes from time, McGann completed his hat-trick when he broke up the right flank to chip ahead and win the chase to ground the ball for an unconverted try that put the midlanders ten points to the good. The light blues battled to the finish and were rewarded when Ewan Heapes got in for a try which Hamill converted.


But Buccaneers held their nerve to emerge victorious by 32-29 after a highly entertaining contest. Their pack, in which Watt, Galvin, James Kelly and substitute Winnett worked their socks off, more than held their own. Meanwhile in the backline Flynn was neat and nifty at outhalf, Appleby strong in the centre and McGann has that match-winning ability to consistently notch tries. However, Buccs need to mix pragmatism with their flair. They did not harness the breeze as they should have while three Galwegians try-scorers were allowed to get much closer to the uprights than they should have. The Pirates will be punished for such leniency in Division 2!


BUCCANEERS:- J.Nagle; T.McGann, T.Appleby, D.Mulvihill, A.Murtagh; S.Flynn, D.O’Rourke; J.Kelly (captain), D.Browne, O.Cooney; A.Shine-Lynch, F.Galvin; S.Sweeney, G.Caterino and C.Watt. Replacements:- J.Tumulty (for Mulvihill, inj. 16 mins), L.Winnett (for Cooney, 22 mins), C.Daly (for Kelly, 66 mins), L.Donnelly (for Shine-Lynch, 63 mins), A.Shine-Lynch (for Sweeney, 70 mins), J.Curley and K.Wheatley-Byrne.




BUCCANEERS SECONDS went down narrowly 20-15 to Westport Firsts in a sometimes hotly contested Connacht Junior 1A League game played under the Dubarry Park floodlights on Saturday night.


Absentees due to injuries and other reasons meant that Buccs were stretched in fielding but the squad battled willingly against one of the stronger outfits in this division. A Gerard Fallon penalty opened the scoring but two soft tries helped put the north-westerners 14-3 ahead. Westport added two second half penalties.


But spirited Buccs pushed them all the way with the impressive Ross Cooper getting in for a fine try. That was followed by a great team try, finished off by the dangerous Callum Forde. With Fallon adding one conversion, the Pirates secured a precious losing bonus point. Standout performances for the Shannonsiders were by Cooper, Gavin O’Toole and Eoin O’Reilly. Skipper Ross Flanagan sustained a knee injury and he is wished well for a speedy recovery.


BUCCANEERS:- G.O’Toole; C.Forde, R.Murphy-Sweeney, D.McMahon, J.Lopez; G.Fallon, E.O’Reilly; N.Harney, E.Maher, L.Winnett; B.Collins, R.Cooper; M.Harding, R.Flanagan (captain) and T.Phillips. Replacements:- N.Flynn, T.Thompson, K.Grehan, B.Muzengeza and J.Heffernan.