Buccaneers RFC

Buccaneers brilliant form continues with win over Shannon

Buccaneers RFC

Buccaneers magnificent title winning Ulster Bank League Division 1B campaign continued on the back pitch at Thomond Park where they defeated Shannon 19-13 yesterday.

By Michael Silke
In glorious sunshine, this was a terrifically competitive encounter between two teams who relished the firm underfoot conditions. Both teams still had much to play for. Shannon, with one eye over their shoulder on the relegation mire, still had ambitions of being involved in the promotion play-offs. Buccs had pride to play for and they laid the foundation of this hard-earned but merited win when playing against the significant breeze in the opening half.

The Pirates made the perfect start when Shane O’Leary gathered a wind-assisted long clearance on his own 22 and surged forward through surprisingly tame tackles by Riley Winter and Duncan Casey. Without hitting top gear he romped forward without a hand being laid on him and then the Buccs outhalf produced nifty footwork to get by Stephen Fitzgerald for a try before the first minute had elapsed. O’Leary duly added a fine conversion from wide on the right for an early tonic 7-0 lead.

Ronan McKenna opened Shannon’s account with a 16th minute penalty but ten minutes later the hosts opted for touch with a kickable penalty but the midlanders won the lineout to clear the danger. Buccs then got no reward from a couple of penalties punted to touch on the left but they enjoyed better luck when working the line on the opposite flank with a 35th minute penalty from midfield. From there they piled pressure on the Limerick side’s defence and Conor McKeon quick thinking and cheeky dart yielded a 38th minute try which O’Leary converted to give the visitors a 14-3 cushion at half-time.

Five minutes after the change of ends, Jordan Conroy looked like adding to his 17 tries but was puzzlingly whistled back for crossing even though there was not a Shannon player within touching distance of him! The impressive Danny Qualter was harshly yellow carded on 50 minutes for perceived blocking while Shannon winger Nathan Randles was fortunate to escape similar censure when he up-ended the airborne Callum Boland as the Buccs fullback soared to claim a teasing up and under. Boland was forced off with Frankie Hopkins coming on. However, Shannon made their temporary numerical superiority pay, referee Mark Patton awarding a 56th minute penalty try to the home side following a superb maul. McKenna’s conversion left just four points between the teams, the Athlone side 14-10 to the good.

Led by the peerless Kolo Kiripati, Buccaneers responded swiftly with Rory Moloney tapping down quick ball from a lineout on the home ten metre line and the ball was smartly transferred to Rory O’Connor who accelerated in an arc from right to left through the home defence for a stunning 58th minute try. O’Leary’s conversion shaved the wrong side of the upright but Buccs, back to full complement, had their tails up again. However, ten minutes later, they were reduced to 14 players again when substitute Rory Grenham was sin binned for a rash high tackle just moments after his introduction.

It was only at this stage that Buccaneers began to make efficient use of the elements with O’Leary and Carty both pinning Shannon back and the latter was fractionally off-target with an audacious drop goal attempt from his own half. John Sutton and Simon Meagher both went close to adding to Buccs tally in the closing stages and this worthy win keeps the Athlone side a massive 16 points clear at the top of the league table. Meanwhile, Shannon’s lingering hopes of a promotion playoff were dashed but their losing bonus point secures their Division 1B status.


C.Boland; R.O’Connor, A.Hayman, M.Fifita, J.Conroy; S.O’Leary, C.McKeon; J.Dever, J.Sutton, M.Staunton; D.Qualter, S.Meagher; S.McVeigh, R.Moloney and K.Kiripati (captain). Replacements:- L.Carty (for Fifita, inj. 29 mins), F.Hopkins (for Boland, inj. 55 mins), E.Galvin (for McVeigh, 57 mins), R.O’Meara (for Dever, 57 mins), R.Grenham (for Sutton, 65 mins) and J.Sutton (for Moloney, 70 mins).


S.Fitzgerald; N.Randles, R.Deegan, W.Leonard, L.O’Dea; R.McKenna, J.Stafford; C.Glynn, D.Casey, J.Andress; R.Winter, L.Nicholas (captain); L.Moylan, N.Mulcahy and J.Foley. Replacements:- J.Vaughan (for Foley, inj. 4 mins), J.O’Donnell (for Deegan, inj. 23 mins), T.Cusack (for Glynn, 35 mins), C.Glynn (for Vaughan, 47 mins), J.Vaughan (for Andress, 69 mins), J.Prenderville (for Casey, 69 mins) and K.Kavanagh (for Leonard, 77 mins).

Referee: Mark Patton (IRFU).

Next up

Buccaneers final fixture of the season takes place at Dubarry Park on this Easter Saturday when Ballynahinch come to Athlone. This Ganlys of Athlone sponsored match kicks off at 2.30 p.m. and the Ulster Bank League Division 1B trophy and medals will be presented to Buccaneers after the game which will be the final outing by their inspiring skipper Kolo Kiripati.