Suttonians 14 Buccaneers 22
A blusterous day saw two very compelling teams battle it out when Suttonians hosted Buccaneers at the J.J.McDowell Memorial Grounds, Sutton, in the J.P.Fanagan Leinster League Premier 2 on Sunday.
By Michael Silke
Weather conditions – a prevailing wind that blew up the pitch, including rain and a small period of hailstones – made the game incredibly difficult for both sides. It tightened the game for the team playing against the wind as kicking was not an option.
The Athlone side commenced playing into the wind and there was a slow start for both teams as they attempted to adjust to the weather conditions. The majority of the first half was played in the Buccaneers half but the ball was mainly controlled by the Athlone side. The first mental battle was won by Buccs as they turned over a scrum in their 22. The dominant scrum by Buccaneers continued throughout the game with props Niall Farrelly and Conor Cleary putting in a huge effort at scrum time. The opening 20 minutes resembled a pattern of Buccs carrying hard ball off phase play but, without a kicking option on a small field, Suttonians were tough to break through. The first break in the score-line came on the 23rd minute as a long looping pass from the Suttonians backline was not gathered and Buccaneers centre Corey Reid picked it up and ran the field to place it under the posts. A reward for their dominance. Ryan Convey converted the try to put the score at 7-0.
On the 29th minute, Buccaneers capitalised on their dominance again, as good defence from the Athlone side resulted in a turnover around the half way line. The ball was kicked downfield quickly as the Pirates centre Reid spotted an absence behind the Suttonians initial defence line. He chased down the ball, kicking it along the ground and placing it down for his and Buccs second try. The resulting conversion was missed leaving the score-line at 12-0 in favour of the visitors.
Halftime was fast approaching and on the 35th minute, following a knock on by Buccaneers, Suttonians took full advantage of the penalty. They kicked to the corner and from the resulting lineout began to punch up the middle through big ball carriers, gaining yards every time. As they approached the 22, pick-and-goes came to the form of their attack. Eventually they broke through as their scrum half Sean Cribben dummied the pass and placed the ball down, with a converted try leaving the midlanders 12-7 ahead at half time.
The second half got straight back into action and on the 41st minute, as Buccaneers took the ball into contact off the kick off, it was robbed by the Suttonians No. 8 Cian Buckley and their out-half James McCourt spotted and exploited a gap to score under the posts. This try was also converted to put Suttonians two points up, 14-12.
However, the rest of the game remained in the Suttonians half as every time Buccaneers had the ball, their out-half Daniel Keane kicked the ball long, using the wind intelligently to his team’s benefit. The second half was primarily dominated by scrums and penalties. The Athlonians were attacking furiously to attain the points to place them back on top of the score board. Hard carries by Ross Cooper (the Athlone side’s captain) and Brian Collins, the second row, left Buccaneers in a promising position near the opposition’s 22. An over-eager Suttonians backline, offside at the ruck, gave Athlone a chance to once again take the lead. This penalty opportunity was grasped by Convey to edge the Pirates back in front 15-14.
Following sustained pressure by Buccaneers, on the 65th minute the deadlock was once again broken, where an excellent line by scrum-half Dean McMahon was fed by Niall Murray to place Suttonians out of contention as the try once again was converted by Convey. Prior to the try the build-up play by Buccs was excellent, with the Shannonsiders side hitting hard lines, picking and going and the accuracy of the pass all resulted in McMahon’s try.
The last fifteen minutes of the game followed the pattern of tight play from both sides. The game ended 22-14 with Buccaneers taking home the spoils. A well fought and deserved bonus point win, Buccaneers retain second place in this division ahead of Sunday’s visit to Dubarry Park by Naas.
Westport 5 Buccaneers 5
A valiant and sustained effort by Buccaneers Seconds earned them a share of the points when they drew 5-5 against Westport in their Connacht Junior 1A League match played in dreadful conditions at Carrowholly, Westport, on Sunday. This was a vital and precious outcome for Buccs as they strive earnestly to keep above the relegation mire. They put in a tremendous effort from start to finish on a stodgy surface in appalling weather and indeed the game was halted temporarily due to a hailstones deluge.
Buccaneers made three changes for this test with Eoin O’Reilly starting on the wing, Dean McMahon at scrum-half and team coach Garreth Halligan making a now rare start at No.8. The Pirates had first benefit of the elements and got their noses in front after just four minutes when Harry Hughes joined a well crafted backs move to score a smashing unconverted try. In a real dogfight due to the prevailing pitch and weather Buccs spurned a glorious opportunity to add to their lead when Ger Fallon was wayward with a very straight-forward penalty. When half-time arrived with the Athlone side a mere 5-0 to the good, the portents did not look overly promising. However, the midlanders dug deep into their reserves of commitment, discipline and work rate and held Westport out until the 76th minute when the Bulls scored an unconverted try. But a magnificent showing by the Buccaneers pack in particular ensured they got some merited reward for their sterling endeavours. Ryan O’Meara was outstanding and Evan Galvin, Rory Grenham and Ruairi Byrne all put in a massive amount of work in the forwards trenches. Jimmy O’Connell was a warrior once again in the backline where McMahon did very well linking backs and forwards.
Buccaneers:– H.Hughes; E.O’Reilly, S.Flynn, J.O’Connell, B.Walsh; G.Fallon, D.McMahon; K.Grehan, R.Grenham (Captain), R.O’Meara; R.Byrne, T.Couper; N.Flynn, E.Galvin and G.Halligan. Replacements:- M.Lyons, C.Cleary and J.Lopez.
Minis Table Quiz
Buccaneers Minis section is holding a Table Quiz in The Bounty on this Thursday, March 2nd, at 8.30 p.m. Complimentary finger food will be served. Loads of prizes on offer. Entry fee €40 per table of four persons. All support will be greatly appreciated.
Congratulations to Liam Kidney and his bride Laura on their recent nuptials.
Deepest sympathy is extended to the family of the late Richard Flynn.