Buccaneers finished the stronger to fashion a 31-22 victory over Dolphin in their Ulster Bank League Division 1B game played on the wide expanses of Independent Park, Cork, on Saturday.
By Michael Silke
This was a keenly contested encounter of swaying fortunes in which Buccaneers came from behind three times to overcome the doughty challenge of a side that had proven the midlanders bogey outfit last season. The counter attraction of the Cork Jazz Festival on a bank holiday weekend resulted that a paltry attendance witnessed this entertaining joust.
Buccaneers welcomed back skipper Kolo Kiripati following his recent injury but lost in-form winger Jordan Conroy, a late cry-off due to illness. Dolphin, aided by the breeze and with Brian Scott in their ranks, dominated the early exchanges and Will Hanly scampered in for a 9th minute try that left four visiting defenders embarrassed. The Shannonsiders were swift in responding and Rory Moloney got over the home line within three minutes. Conor McKeon’s smashing 22nd minute break yielded the first converted try of the contest, the scrumhalf adding the points in this instance for a 12-5 lead.
Barry Keeshan retorted with a 30th minute penalty before he converted Ryan Murphy’s pushover try five minutes later following a splendid maul by Dolphin. This gave the Cork side a 15-12 advantage at the interval but Buccs edged back in front courtesy of a pair of Alan Gaughan penalties in the third quarter. Dolphin replied when putting some good phases together and prop Scott finished this spell for a 62nd minute touchdown converted by Keeshan.
Although now trailing 18-22, Buccaneers maintained their composure and endeavour to pen the hosts back. Their growing pressure yielded another brace of successful Gaughan penalties, the second the result of a yellow card infringement by Keeshan. Rory O’Connor’s chase then put Cillian Monahan under pressure close to his left corner and, when possession was turned over to Buccs, they moved the ball smartly to Danie Poolman who powered in for a 76th minute try at the posts. Gaughan’s conversion completed the scoring as the Pirates, who pounded the home line in the closing moments, were desperately unlucky not to secure a late bonus point try. However, this win sets Buccs up nicely for the visit of league leaders UL Bohemian to Athlone next Saturday.
DOLPHIN:- C.Monahan; T.Phelan, C.McGovern, S.Kennedy, W.Hanly; B.Keeshan, K.O’Keeffe; J.Rochford, L.Walsh, B.Scott; D.O’Mahony, J.Madigan; K.Keogh, K.Allen and R.Murphy (captain).
Replacements:- A.Mason (for Keogh, inj. 16 mins), L.Coughlan (for Mason, inj. 35 mins), D.Byrne (for Walsh), D.Hurley (for Kennedy, 56 mins), D.Foley (for O’Keeffe, 69 mins) and L.Walsh (for Coughlan, 78 mins).
Buccaneers:- L.Carty; D.Poolman, S.Layden, M.Fifita, E.O’Reilly; A.Gaughan, C.McKeon; M.Staunton, J.Sutton, D.Quinn; D.Qualter, S.Meagher; S.McVeigh, R.Moloney and K.Kiripati (captain).
Replacements:- R.Byrne (for Moloney, inj. 30 mins), R.Grenham (for Quinn, 64 mins), G.Lynch (for McKeon, 69 mins), R.O’Connor (for O’Reilly, 69 mins) and S.Flanagan (for Sutton, 76 mins).
Referee:- Joy Neville (IRFU).
Top of the Table Clash
Second placed Buccaneers welcome leaders UL Bohemian for a top of the table Ulster Bank League Division 1B match at Dubarry Park, Athlone, on Saturday next. Kick off time for this hugely anticipated match, which is sponsored by the Glenroyal Hotel Maynooth, is 2:30 pm.