Buccaneers Seconds 17
Buccaneers Seconds made a tame exit from the Connacht Junior Cup last Sunday, going down 51-17 to Castlebar at wet and windy Cloondeash.
Buccs made seven changes from their most recent outing, which was more than a month ago, and their play was disjointed and disorganised as a result. The hosts, meanwhile, had a sturdy pack that they made good use of, as well as utilising their rolling substitutions to telling effect.
Castlebar were helped by having the elements in their favour when this cup tie kicked off, and they promptly opened the scoring with a very early Ronan Conway penalty. Their pack was rampant in the opening quarter, notching three unconverted tries through Nigel Byrne, David Staunton and Fintan Casey in quick succession to secure a 18-0 lead. Impressive number eight Staunton touched down his second at the posts, with Conway adding the conversion to stretch their advantage.
Buccs finally made some inroads into the home half and, after Thomas McGann and Brian Diffley made good ground on the left, Callum Forde displayed nifty footwork and desire to get in for an opening score. Atlhough this try was not converted against the breeze, it gave the Pirates some hope that they could chase the game in the second half with the elements in their favour. However, they leaked two further soft tries to Luke Staunton and Byrne before half-time. Conway converted both to give Castlebar a daunting 39-5 lead at the interval.
Buccs were more committed on the resumption of play, but could not pierce the home defence until Robert Enraght-Moony burst through for an unconverted try wide on the left after a quickly tapped 57th minute penalty. The Athlone side was applying all the pressure at this stage and a home player was sin binned for a deliberate knock on. Buccs scored a third try through Brian Diffley, with Ryan Convey adding the conversion to reduce the visitors’ arrears to 17-39 with 15 minutes remaining.
However, that was as close as it got, as Castlebar quickly retorted with a try. Brian Flannery scored his side’s eight in the final move, with Conway’s conversion completing the home team’s 51-17 winning margin.
Castlebar were physically stronger and better organised. Nevertheless, this was a disappointing display from Buccaneers, with their tackling being especially porous for most of the contest. Forde and Thomas McGann looked threatening at times, but the Pirates pack was unable to deliver the necessary supply of decent possession.
Buccs Seconds are on the road west on Saturday for a joust with their Galwegians counterparts in the Connacht Junior 1A League at Crowley Park, Glenina. Both clubs will be smarting from their eliminations from the Connacht Junior Cup, but the light blues gave a better account of themselves when going down to Sligo.
To be fair to Buccs, theirs was a patchwork squad at Castlebar, but greater numbers are required on the training paddock if they are to consolidate in this division. Presently, they lie in fifth position, just one above Wegians, so bragging rights are up for grabs come Saturday.