ST. MARY’S COLLEGE 34
RUGBY with Michael Silke
ST MARY’S COLLEGE earned a vital victory when defeating Buccaneers 34-32 in their All-Ireland League Division 1B clash at Templeville Road on Saturday. This meeting of the two clubs relegated from the top flight last season had a “must win” feeling about it even at this early stage of the current campaign. St. Mary’s were the more cohesive unit and merited their narrow bonus point win.
Both teams had late cry-offs due to injuries in the warm up! Home No.8 Mark Fallon was replaced by Nick McCarthy while the visitors rejigged their pack when Peter Claffey was unable to play. Eoghan Masterson came in at No.8, Evan Galvin moved to lock and Simon Meagher switched to blindside flanker. These changes seemed to critically affect the Pirates such was the dominance of the hosts’ pack in the tight.
The metropolitans made a bright start with Hugo Conway finishing off an impressive sequence to score a 7th minute try on the right which Conor Dean converted. Buccs replied with a brace of Luke Carty penalties to which Dean responed with a successful penalty to leave the homesters 10-6 to the good.
Carty was then off-target with a placekick after Marcus O’Driscoll’s block down on the ten metre line was deemed deliberate. Just three minutes later referee Dan Carson, whose officiating baffled both sets of supporters on occasion, then ruled that Shane Layden’s attempt to intercept inside his own 22 was worthy of both a yellow card to the returning Buccaneers skipper and a penalty try to St. Mary’s. This decision was mystifying to justify but, in hindsight, it provided a crucial score for the winners. This gave St. Mary’s a 17-6 advantage which is how the score remained at the interval.
Nine minutes into the second half as St. Mary’s applied pressure on the Pirates line, Buccs efforts to keep their line intact earned Rory Moloney a yellow card. No complaints on this occasion and the city side added further punishment when they drove over to earn a second penalty try to go 18 points ahead.
Matters looked bleak for the Athlone side at this stage but they swiftly got back into the contest. They punted a 54th minute penalty to the left corner where Meagher won the lineout and, after the ball was recyled, the young backrower was on hand to stretch over the home line for a try converted by Carty. Eight minutes later home hooker Richard Halpin was sin binned for bringing down a maul. This time Buccs punted the penalty to the right where debutant Joe Maksymiw claimed lineout ball to get over the home line. Carty’s touchline conversion went fractionally wide of the far upright.
Buccaneers now had the bit between their teeth and a terrific Eoin Griffin break was finished in style by Moloney for a 70th minute try which Carty converted to edge the midlanders ahead by the minimum 25-24. They now looked the more likely to finish stronger but soon coughed up a 75th minute penalty which Dean stroked over to nose St. Mary’s back in front.
In a frantic finish that was much more exciting than the opening hour, St. Mary’s pack powered over for a bonus point try scored by McCarthy. Dean’s conversion ensured that College were finally sure of a dearly needed win. But there was still time for Buccs to retort with a fine Griffin bonus point try. Carty’s conversion completed the 34-32 scoreline with the Pirates also securing a losing bonus point. However, St. Mary’s will have been much the happier outfit after a lively but error strewn contest.
BUCCANEERS:- C.Boland; S.Layden (captain ), E.Griffin, K.Joyce, D.Corbett; L.Carty, C.Reilly; M.Staunton, D.Heffernan, N.Farrelly; E.Masterson, J.Maksymiw; E.Galvin, R.Moloney and S.Meagher. Replacements:- J.Sutton (for Masterson, 50 mins ), R.Grenham (for Farrelly, 55 mins ), E.Masterson (for Heffernan, 75 mins ), N.Farrelly (for Grenham, 76 mins ), G.Lynch and M.Hanley.
Referee:- Dan Carson (IRFU ).
Buccs home to City of Armagh
Buccaneers take on City of Armagh in a first ever All-Ireland League fixture between the clubs at Dubarry Park on Saturday. Kick off for this Ganly’s of Athlone sponsored match is at 2.30pm.