ST. MARY’S COLLEGE 34 BUCCANEERS 32 | News | Buccaneers Rugby Football Club Athlone

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published:Nov  28   2018

ST MARY’S COLLEGE earned a vital victory when defeating Buccaneers 34-32 in their All-Ireland League Division 1B clash at Templeville Road on Saturday. This meeting of the two clubs relegated from the top flight last season had a “must win” feeling about it even at this early stage of the current campaign. St. Mary’s were the more cohesive unit and merited their narrow bonus point win. On a firm sod, the endeavours and high scoring by both sides masks a scrappy enough affair.


Both teams had late cry-offs due to injuries in the warm up! Home No.8 Mark Fallon was replaced by Nick McCarthy while the visitors rejigged their pack when Peter Claffey was unable to play. Debutant Eoghan Masterson came in at No.8, Evan Galvin moved to lock and fit again Simon Meagher switched to blindside flanker. These changes seemed to critically affect the Pirates, who made seven changes in personnel from their one point defeat to Malone last time out, such was the dominance of the hosts’ pack in the tight. Ireland capped David Heffernan made a first appearance in some seasons at hooker and lock Joe Maksymiw was another to debut in the pack while Eoin Griffin and Shane Layden made their first starts of the season in the three-quarters line with Niall Farrelly returning to front row duty.


On a dull grey afternoon the metropolitans made a bright start and Hugo Conway finished off an impressive sequence to score a 7th minute try on the right with Conor Dean’s conversion just scraping over the crossbar. Buccs replied with a brace of Luke Carty penalties, the latter following a fine catch by Rory Moloney and teasing break by the Shannonsiders’ outhalf. Dean responed with a successful penalty to leave the homesters 10-6 to the good after 16 minutes.


Carty was then surprisingly off-target with a central placekick that was to prove costly after Marcus O’Driscoll’s block down on the home ten metre line was deemed deliberate. Just three minutes later referee Dan Carson, whose officiating baffled both sets of supporters on occasion, then ruled that Layden’s attempt to intercept inside his own 22 was worthy of both a yellow card to the Buccaneers skipper and a penalty try to St. Mary’s. This decision was mystifying to justify but, in hindsight, it provided a crucial tonic for the winners as it gave St. Mary’s a 17-6 advantage which is how the score remained at the interval.


Nine minutes into the second half as St. Mary’s applied pressure on the Pirates line, Buccs efforts to keep them out earned Moloney a yellow card. No complaints on this occasion and the city side added further punishment when they drove over to earn a second penalty try and go 18 points ahead.


Matters looked bleak for the Athlone side at this stage but they swiftly got back into the contest. They punted a 54th minute penalty to the left corner where Meagher won the lineout and, after the ball was recyled, the young backrower was on hand to stretch over the home line for a well taken try converted by Carty. Eight minutes later home hooker Richard Halpin was sin binned for bringing down a maul. This time Buccs punted the penalty to the right where the towering Maksymiw claimed lineout ball to surge over the home line. Carty’s touchline conversion went fractionally wide of the far upright.


Buccaneers now had the bit between their teeth and a terrific Griffin break was finished in style by Moloney for a 70th minute try which Carty converted to edge the midlanders ahead by the minimum 25-24. They now looked the more likely to finish stronger and College were fortunate that a spear tackle (admittedly one of the lower end of the scale) on Darragh Corbett did not result in a red card. However, Buccaneers soon coughed up a 75th minute penalty which Dean stroked over to nose St. Mary’s back in front.


In a frantic finish that was much more exciting than the opening hour, the blues pack powered over for a bonus point try scored by McCarthy. Dean’s conversion ensured that College were finally sure of their dearly needed win. But there was still time for Buccs to retort with a fine Griffin bonus point try. Carty’s conversion completed the 34-32 scoreline with the Pirates also securing a losing bonus point.


However, St. Mary’s will have been much the happier outfit after a lively but error strewn contest. Their forwards were the much more cohesive unit while their backline looked dangerous in loose play. Buccaneers were disjointed too often in their efforts and the impact of their Connacht forwards, perhaps lacking match sharpness, was less than anticipated. Admirable and entertaining though it is, Buccs endeavours to spread the ball at most opportunities may need to be curbed somewhat with a more pragmatic retention of possession required. In a contest where both teams were keen to move the ball swiftly, Carty and fellow Connacht Academy fly-half Dean provided a sub-plot. Both made decent contributions and had six kicks at the posts with Dean’s 100% return being a key factor in the home team’s win. Meagher was the most enterprising forward for Buccaneers who must turn results around before the end of the year and start moving up the league table.


ST. MARY’S COLLEGE:- D.Fanagan; H.Conway, M.Carey, M.O’Driscoll (captain), C.Kennedy; C.Dean, P.O’Driscoll; T.O’Reilly, R.Halpin, M.McCormack; L.Corcoran, L.Curran; D.Aspil, R.Watters and N.McCarthy. Replacements:- D.McDonnell (for Watters, 75 mins), S.O’Brien, P.Dundon, D.Lyons and R.Shields.


BUCCANEERS:- C.Boland; S.Layden (captain), E.Griffin, K.Joyce, D.Corbett; L.Carty, C.Reilly; M.Staunton, D.Heffernan, N.Farrelly; E.Masterson, J.Maksymiw; E.Galvin, R.Moloney and S.Meagher. Replacements:- J.Sutton (for Masterson, 50 mins), R.Grenham (for Farrelly, 55 mins), E.Masterson (for Heffernan, 75 mins), N.Farrelly (for Grenham, 76 mins), G.Lynch and M.Hanley.


Referee:- Dan Carson (IRFU).




Buccaneers produced a below par team performance, but it was just enough to overcome a well drilled Old Belvedere challenge in a very competitive J.P.Fanagan Leinster Premier 2 U-20’s league encounter at Anglesea Road last Sunday. With Liam Winnett and Sam Krupa not available, the Pirates made a number of changes from the previous week with Thomas McGann returning to the wing, Harry O’Reilly starting at tighthead and Sean O’Connell returning to the back row. Jimmy Curley and Cedric Forkan came into the squad to provide cover from the bench.


From the opposition kick-off, Buccaneers got the communication lines all wrong, setting an early tone of indecision. Buccs were then adjudged offside but, from the resulting penalty, Old Belvedere missed the kick. The midlanders regrouped, and on 5 minutes, a terrific run and kick from fullback Jensen Nagle had Old Belvedere pinned close to their line. Buccaneers won the line out and Brian McDonnell pounced for the first try of the game, which Michael Hanley duly converted.


However, the next 20 minutes saw Buccaneers uncharacteristically make very hard work of proceedings. Tackles were being missed and basic handling errors were gifting the fluid home backline too many opportunities. The result was two unanswered tries from the home team, but with the conversions missed, Old Belvedere led by only 3 points. McGann crossed over the try line on 25 minutes, but was adjudged by the referee to have stepped over the dead ball line. Undeterred, the Buccaneers pack were winning the set pieces at lineout and scrums and, from such an advantage, Fergus Galvin made a strong break from the base and captain James Kelly was on hand to take the next phase and drive over for a try. Hanley again converted to give Buccaneers a 4-point advantage as the first half entered injury time. Old Belvedere had the last say however, and when the normally very consistent Buccaneers lineout failed to gain possession at the tail, the home team cut through to score under the posts. Old Belvedere 17-14 led at the break, and a very frustrated Buccaneers team gathered to lick their wounds and recover.


A very tough half time analysis from coaches Byrne, Gilligan and Ennis seemed to set the mindset, when Nagle made another trademark break from the back and jinked his way beyond midfield. From the ruck and resulting maul, an offload opportunity was cleverly anticipated by hooker Darren Browne, who stepped the home team cover, and ran in from 30 metres to touch down under the posts. Hanley converted and Buccaneers had the lead again.


Curley entered the fray for Goncalo Catarino and was immediately into the thick of it. The Old Belvedere forwards were now meeting Buccaneers head on and the exchanges were fought hard. The teams traded tries, with Galvin getting the Buccaneers score. Hanley missed his only kick of the day, whilst the home team nailed their conversion. It was now a two-point game to the Athlone side. Forkan came into the front row and didn’t shirk in the challenges, providing fresh dynamism to what was now becoming a very energy sapping contest.

Buccaneers could not get any fluency going. O’Reilly, Browne, O’ Donnell and O’Connell were working and winning ugly ball, but overall the team were struggling to put phases together. The referee was clearly also viewing the infringes differently and at the beginning of the last quarter Buccaneers were penalised on 3 occasions, with the home team taking 9 points. With 7 minutes remaining on the clock, Buccaneers were 7 points down. Curley left the field with a head injury, and shortly after Kelly was yellow carded for what appeared a harsh call.


But showing huge character, Buccaneers finally imposed themselves and strangled possession away from the home team. Winning multiple phases, and staying composed, they worked a try for wing Tom Appleby in the corner. Hanley had a very difficult kick, but he is one of the best place kickers at this grade in the country and duly nailed it to level the match.


The Old Belvedere crowd were raucous in their support for the home team, willing them on. The game entered injury time as Old Belvedere restarted, but Buccaneers gathered and again calmly held possession. Belvo infringed on the half way line, and Buccaneers had a penalty. Surely it was too far from the posts, and with the wind swirling across the pitch, a kick to touch seemed like the last phase of play. Nobody told flyhalf Hanley and he presented the ball on the half way line, lined up the kick and slotted it magnificently between the posts. It was the match winning score, and Buccaneers had somehow engineered an away win.


This was a testing game against a very spirited and well coached Old Belvedere side. They maximised the Buccaneers errors and indecision and will feel they let the game slip. In truth, Buccaneers were the better side and will take valuable lessons from this encounter. Five tries and five points on the road against a top Dublin side is normally cause for some celebration, but Buccaneers know they have much more to offer and were very grounded after the win.


Take your pick for man of the match from the imperious Hanley, or the hard-working O’Donnell, Browne and O’Connell. Galvin, despite heavy strapping on his knee had a fine game and O’Reilly is proving to be a top-level tight head. Nagle had his best game to date in the campaign and was composed as well as an attacking threat. Colm McMahon worked hard in the centre channel and defended strongly.

Next up is a home fixture versus Greystones on Sunday December 2nd at Dubarry Park. Greystones will be buoyed from their home win last weekend against Galwegians, but a more consistent and committed performance from Buccaneers would present a great opportunity to keep the winning momentum going.


Buccaneers:- J Nagle; T McGann, D Ennis, C McMahon, T Appleby; M Hanley, D O’Rourke; J Kelly (captain), D Browne, H O’Reilly; F Galvin, C Watt; S O’Connell, G Catarino and B McDonnell. Replacements:- C Daly, C Forkin, A Abona, G Monticone, S Flynn, K Byrne, T Appleby, J Curley, E Cooney, A Murtagh, C Forkin and C McGuinness.