Narrow away day loss for Buccaneers in the capital

OLD BELVEDERE 11 BUCCANEERS 10

OLD BELVEDERE and Buccaneers swapped places in the Division 1B table for the second successive week when the Dubliners eked out an 11-10 All-Ireland League victory at wet and windy Anglesea Road on Saturday. In a finely balanced contest between two evenly matched outfits, the homesters were mightily relieved when Luke Carty’s drop goal attempt, with the final kick of the match from over 30 metres, was fractionally off target.

Ironically, in the really testing foul weather conditions, both teams fared better against the elements. Assisted by the considerable elements, Old Belvedere began on the front foot and a trio of early penalties pegged Buccs back while Paraic Cagney was held up near the uprights. The midlanders defended commendably with a 16th minute Steve Crosbie penalty the hosts only reward. The visitors were by now making progress of their own and they patiently went through phases, constantly switching the point of attack, until Luke Carty’s astute grubber kick unlocked the home defence. McMahon pounced onto the ball for a well-worked 20th minute try wide on the left. In the truly difficult elements, Carty’s touchline conversion was superb.

The referee had words with Eoin Sweeney following a wild shoulder tackle by the home lock and the exchanges became a bit heated for a period. Niall Farrelly was doing splendidly in the tight resulting in Belvo’s experienced prop Declan Lavery being called ashore after only 28 minutes. The Pirates momentum continued to build and they applied fierce pressure around the half-hour mark right on the Belvo line. With the homesters reaching out to slow the ball on a number of occasions a penalty try should surely have been awarded. Buccs did gain some consolation in this spell when Shane Layden intercepted his former teammate Ben Carty’s pass and earned a 33rd minute penalty which Ben’s younger brother Luke gratefully converted to extend the Athlone side’s advantage.

As the weather turned even more foul approaching half-time, the metropolitans enjoyed similar pressure to that of the visitors’ earlier. However, referee Mark Patton’s inconsistency on this occasion infuriated Buccaneers when taking a more severe view and sin-binned Lynch as Buccs desperately defended their line. With the final kick of the half, Crosbie slotted over the resultant penalty to reduce Old Belvedere’s arrears to 10-6 at the break.

With the floodlights now on in the extremely gloomy conditions, the exchanges remained evenly contested in the second half despite Belvo substitute Colin Mallon being sin-binned a mere two minutes after his 48th minute introduction. The Dublin side enjoyed their best period as the game entered the final quarter and applied steady pressure from side to side until replacement Tom Molony joined the line at pace to crash through for a 65th minute try which captain Crosbie converted.

This edged Old Belvedere ahead by the minimum and, with the breeze now having eased noticeably, Buccaneers had to work even harder to make ground. This they did in a dramatic conclusion, inching bit by bit into home territory until Carty got a drop goal opportunity. They should perhaps have gone through a few more phases but the players had given their all at that stage. Unfortunately, the wind for once failed to curl Carty’s kick which went tantalisingly wide and thus Old Belvedere hung on for a precious win by the minimum that moves them up above the Pirates, whose losing bonus point keeps them off the bottom.

Carty’s line kicking was topclass throughout, proving a massive help to his pack and a hugely depleted backline where Layden and Lynch put in big shifts. The Pirates pack put in a stalwart effort with Farrelly, Claffey and Evan Galvin to the fore in their unstinting endeavours. In the circumstances, Buccaneers can take considerable pride and encouragement from their collective display.

BUCCANEERS:- C.Boland; R.O’Connor, S.Layden (captain ), D.McMahon, F.Hopkins; L.Carty, G.Lynch; M.Staunton, J.Sutton, N.Farrelly; P.Claffey, R.Byrne; E.Galvin, R.Moloney and S.Meagher. Replacements:- H.O’Reilly (for Farrelly, 65 mins ), T.McGann (for O’Connor, 70 mins ), N.Farrelly (for Staunton, 73 mins ), T.Rensford (for Byrne, 74 mins ) and R.Enraght-Moony.

Referee:- Mark Patton (IRFU ).

Buccs host Ballymena in ‘must win’ duel

BUCCANEERS final All-Ireland League game of 2018 takes place in Dubarry Park on Saturday with Ballymena the visitors. Kick off for this Ganly’s of Athlone sponsored Division 1B fixture is 2.30pm. Both teams occupy the bottom two berths on the league table and it truly is a “must win” battle for either.

Pre-match v Ballymena

There will be the traditional Christmas pre-match fare for this match. Cost is €30 per head for meal with complimentary wine plus free admission to the stand. Bookings are being taken for this seasonal get together which can cater for groups and/or individuals. Contact Administrator Geraldine at 0861732711 to book.

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