Buccaneers defeated in Heineken Connacht Junior Cup


BUCCANEERS SECONDS were well beaten by NUIG on a 24-0 scoreline in their Heineken Connacht Junior Cup second round match in really testing conditions at Dubarry Park, Athlone, on Sunday.

Division 1A side Buccs made five changes from last week’s league game. Forwards James Tormey, Rory Grenham and Cilliene Walsh were all on duty with the Senior squad while backs Brian Walshe (injured) and Robert Kiersey were missing as was influential substitute Ricky Dixon, also due to injury. Scott Flanagan, Paul Gallogly and Darragh Lennon came into the pack with Darin Claasen and Brannagh Corcoran beefing up the backline. Ex-Buccs Mark Dolan, James Donoghue and Mel Corbett all featured for College, who compete in Division 1B.

The Pirates very much in this contest at half-time despite trailing 0-17 as they had a near gale to assist them for the second period on a gluepot pitch. They had defended well for the majority of the half, making good carries and not allowing the Students much leeway until Corcoran knocked on after 14 minutes. The big centre compounded his error by allowing Ruairi Keogh-Clarke snaffle the ball and run in for a try at the posts with John Kennedy landing the conversion. Due to the elements, NUIG continued to enjoy huge territory and their pressure told when, after punting a penalty to touch on the right, they moved the ball infield following the lineout and captain Steve Collins powered in between the uprights for a try. Kennedy added the straight-forward conversion.

Buccs made some promising raids into the College half but were unable to secure any reward. Then in the final move of the half, following flagging by a touch judge, Corcoran was yellow carded for a no hands tackle and Kennedy’s successful penalty gave the Students a promising 17-0 advantage to defend in the second half.

Corcoran sustained an injury in that tackle and was replaced by Dominic Griffiths. Now it was NUIG’s turn to defend, which they did with similar relish as that of the hosts, while a knock-on ruined a really promising counter-attack by the Students. Meanwhile, Buccs were not as composed or on the same wavelength at times as they needed to be, and they could not conjure up a path to breaching the College cover. The Pirates were also guilty of not making touch on too many occasions, thus easing pressure on the visitors.

It was all over bar the shouting when home prop Keith Grehan was red carded for a punch offence as the game entered the final quarter. The effervescent Students added to Buccs discomfort eight minutes later when Keogh-Clarke broke along the right flank and was then allowed by a tiring home defence to touchdown at the posts. Kennedy’s conversion confirmed NUIG’s thoroughly deserved passage to the next round but their propensity to concede a huge number of penalties (although amazingly no yellow card shown by an overly patient referee) could cost them dearly in the future.

Buccaneers, for whom Gallogly, Ruairi Byrne, Flanagan, David Fagan and James O’Connell did best, must now knuckle down to stave off the challenge of relegation in their remaining league fixtures.

BUCCANEERS:- D.Fagan; D.Claasen, S.Flynn, B.Corcoran, J.O’Connor; C.Hertz, G.Fallon; D.Lennon, S.Flanagan, K.Grehan; R.Byrne (captain), S.Byrne; N.Flynn, R.Browne and P.Gallogly. Replacements:- T.Thompson (for Lennon, inj. 19 mins), D.Griffiths (for Corcoran, 52 mins), M.Lyons (for N.Flynn, 59 mins), J.Lopez (for Hertz, 65 mins), G.O’Loughlin (for Gallogly, inj.) and C.Hertz (for S.Flynn, inj.).

N.U.I.G:- J.Kennedy; D.Layden, R.Keogh-Clarke, M.Corbett, C.O’Neill; S.Collins (captain), M.Dolan; S.Faulkner, J.Moloney, C.Hennessy; T.Feegan, P.Maher; M.Davey, J.Donoghue and A.Doyle. Replacements:- D.Donohue (for Doyle, inj.), J.Dunne (for Donohue, inj.), C.O’Neill (for Hennessy), B.Delaney (for Davey) and C.Hennessy (for Faulkner).

Referee:- Roland Clear (Connacht).