Rugby with Michael Silke
Buccaneers 36 Galwegians 33
BUCCANEERS retained their Connacht Senior League for the fourth successive year as they defeated Galwegians 36-33 in a most dramatic conclusion to a well contested encounter at Dubarry Park on Saturday.
Sensing the chance for a rare win at Dubarry Park, Galwegians were quickly into their stride and, after making good progress down the right, a pinpoint diagonal kick found Murphy in acres of space and he cantered in for the opening try which Clarke converted. But Buccs responed positively and a couple of penalties to the left brought them close to the visitors’ line before Galvin powered over for an 8th minute try. Michael Hanley converted to level the scores 7-7.
Next it was Wegians turn to profit from a penalty punted to the left where they got a bit of luck, Chris Reilly’s short lineout throw to Joshua Hays clearly not going to the five metre mark. But the Tribesmen continued their attack and, although held up at the posts, the ball was moved to the opposite flank where Sean O’Sullivan finished off for an unconverted 22nd minute try. Eleven minutes later Wegians nabbed their third try following a penalty on the home ten metre line and the ball was moved neatly via Rory Gaffney and James Kennedy to send Murphy in for his second try. Clarke’s conversion gave Galwegians a 19-7 halftime lead.
Now assisted by the elements Buccs applied steady pressure following the change of ends and forced a couple of penalties, with Hanley landing one on 44 minutes. His second longer effort was wayward and, following a short restart after this miss, Murphy made telling ground up the right before linking with Tarmey and the big lock found a gap in the home cover to romp in for a 49th minute try. Clarke’s conversion of this bonus point try gave Wegians a healthy 26-10 advantage and a home comeback now appeared to have been knocked on the head.
But Buccs continued to press forward and Robert Enraght-Moony was unfortunate when being whistled back for an earlier infringement. However, Galwegians were now beginning to concede a growing number of penalties and Michael O’Donnell was sin binned for illegally slowing possession after 52 minutes. A fierce drive by the home pack after Meagher had won good lineout ball saw Staunton surge over the visitors’ line for an unconverted 55th minute try. Ten minutes later further impressive mauling by the youthful hosts yielded a Sutton try and Hanley’s conversion reduced the arrears to just four points.
The westerners were now in disarray and when substitute Shane Ryan incurred a yellow card and a super chase by Thomas McGann pressurised the Tribesmen forcing a turnover deep in his opponents’ territory. Buccs never-say-die efforts capitalised on this and saw them again driving over the Wegians line for a 71st minute Staunton bonus point try with Hanley’s conversion seeing the Pirates lead for the first time 29-26.
Then following a lengthy break while Ross Flanagan received treatment for an injury, the wily Murphy somehow worked his way through from distance for a smartly taken 76th minute try to complete his hat-trick and regain the lead for Galwegians. Clarke’s fine conversion from wide on the right looked like ensuring victory as it put four points between the teams. With time fast running out, nothing other than a try would suffice for Buccs. But they never wavered in their endeavours and a silly penalty concession by the under pressure visitors gave the homesters a final throw of the dice as the scoreboard clock now ticked into the red. Buccaneers piled forward one last time and a clever chip over the defence saw Conor McMahon (who had started in place of the unfortunate Lynch ) about to pounce and score. However, he was impeded by a Galwegians defender and referee Jason Cairns had no hesitation in making the brave but correct decision to award a penalty try that not only decided this contest but also the destination of the league title.
BUCCANEERS:- R.Murphy-Sweeney; E.O’Reilly, C.McMahon, R.Enraght-Moony, T.McGann; M.Hanley, C.Reilly; S.O’Connell, J.Sutton, M.Staunton (captain ); R.Byrne, R.Flanagan; O.Treacy, E.Galvin and S.Meagher. Replacements:- D.Browne (for O’Connell, 60 mins ), J.Kelly (for Galvin, 65 mins ), G.Fallon (for Flanagan, inj. 75 mins ), and S.Flynn.