Buccaneers Yellow Vs Ballina U15’s -Connacht League Semi-final by Brian Tallon
Buccs Yellows were hoping for success as they faced Ballina in the semi-final of the U15 Connacht League to help offset the disappointment for their team mates Buccs Black team, who narrowly lost to Corinthians in the other Semi Final. The task was a mammoth one for the Yellow team, as they had already lost to Ballina earlier in the campaign and Ballina remained unbeaten going into this match.
Ballina had the kick-off and Buccs went well from the start with a confident catch by 2nd row Keelan Connolly setting up the platform for a Midlanders attack which led to an infringement by the Ballina lads at the ruck and resulted in a superb penalty kick from outhalf John Tumelty right into the left corner, 10 metres out from Ballina’s try zone. After 3 good phases of forward’s pick and go off the base of well protected rucks, Buccs wing forward James Finlass ducked under a sea of bodies to touch down for the opening score and 5 points to Buccs. Shane Coughlan’s conversion kick unfortunately failed to find its mark.
Ballina showed their character by responding decisively after try scoring hero Finlass knocked on the ball at the re-start due to cross purpose with his wing forward partner Conor Rohan as both went for the restart ball and the resultant scrum was the impetus for Ballina’s retaliatory try scored moments later. Their no.10 slotted over his conversion to give them the lead 7-5 after only 4 minutes of play.
Both sides contested ferociously at the breakdown and the big hits did take their toll as Buccs hooker Patrick Ryan had to leave the field of play when he was winded, to be substituted by James Downes, who himself then had to be replaced by the barely recovered Ryan, after only 1 minute of rugby, after Downes took a hard knock to his knee.
The intensity and commitment with which Buccs attacked and protected the breakdown allowed the Buccs to control the game and their much improved rucking gave Ballina little chance to impose themselves on the game.
Ballina tried to mix up the game by kicking over the top, but Rory Smith on the right wing caught the ball and drew 2 tacklers to off load to John Tumelty at full back, who in turn broke around 2 weak tackles in the centre of the park to open up the defence and bring play right up to Ballina’s 22. This led to Buccs being able to set up a Maul on the Ballina 5 metre line and credit to Ballina’s stoic defence as they held up the Buccs attack and won a penalty scrum when the maul failed to go forward. Ballina’s scrum half ill advisedly tried to run the ball back across his own try zone off the scrum and Darragh Mulvihill’s quick pace and rush tackle forced him to try off load to his Centre, who lost the ball to the ground. Both Rory Smith and James Finlass dived for it and Smith got the ball under control to ground it for an opportunistic try and put Buccs back into the lead 10-7. Again Coughlan’s conversion kick failed to find its mark and the 1st half finished out with 10 more minutes of intense play but no additional scores for either side.
In the second half Buccs restarted and the Midland lads had the better attacks, but were stopped short of the try line on 3 occasions as Ballina defended heroically.
On a day when all players on the field put in monumental performances it was hard to identify a stand-out performance, however special mention has to be given to both Conor Rohan at 7, who made big tackle after big tackle and was instrumental in killing off any chances for Ballina to set up plays from rucks or set pieces, and Liam Winnett who carried ball time and time again, creating holes in Ballina’s defence. It was Rohan’s huge hit on Ballina’s danger man no.10 that gave 2nd row, Mark Tallon the opportunity to contest for the ball and win a penalty when the isolated player failed to release. The resultant penalty kick by Tumelty brought play to just outside Ballina’s 5 metre line and set up no 8. Liam Winett for a crash try to put Buccs 15-7 ahead but again the conversion this time from John Tumelty didn’t slot over.
Ballina fought back and brought play back into Buccs 22 and when they won a penalty, another knock to Patrick Ryan stalled play for a while as he received treatment for an ankle injury. When play resumed moments later, Buccs had switched off in the centre of the park and Ballina’s big no.10 capitalised with a tap penalty and ran straight through to give himself an easy conversion as he touched down beside the post. With the score 15-14 and over 5 minutes to play a nerve shredding time followed as Ballina desperately went in search of a winning score and Buccs hoped to put the game out of reach. Near the close of the game Ciaran Sugrue saved a near certain try when he courageously slid down on a kick deep into Buccs half and quick support from Cameron Digan gave the rest of the pack time to set up their defence to have the game finish out 15-14 and a massive win for Buccaneers, giving them their ticket to a final against old rivals Corinthians.
Final Score Buccaneers Yellow 15- Ballina 14
Buccaneers Yellow; 1 Carl Doran 2. Patrick Ryan 3. Cathal O’Grady 4. Mark Tallon 5. Keelan Connlley 6. James Finlass 7. Conor Rohan 8. Liam Winnet 9. Shane Coughlan 10. Ciaran Sugrue 11. Cameron Digan 12. Darragh Mulvihill 13. Daniel Ennis 14. Ruairi Smith 15. John Tumelty & Subs- Paddy Toland (for 6), James Downes (for 2), Oisin Rock (for 7).