Buccaneers 32 Castlebar 12
After a recent luckless run, Buccaneers’ J1s clicked to record an impressive 32-12 Connacht Junior 1A League victory over Castlebar in an entertaining and lively contest played under the Dubarry Park floodlights on Friday night. The Athlone side had seven changes in personnel as well as a number of positional switches for this encounter, including the return of Rory Grenham who had been injured in the opening game of the season at Ballina.
Both teams endeavoured to keep the ball in hand which, on a good surface and in agreeable weather conditions, led to an exciting match. Buccs lineout and scrum were the strongest they have been in the season to date with Grenham back at hooker and young Anthony Shine-Lynch giving the homesters the extra option needed at lineouts. Sean Flynn and Eoin Cooney had powerful games in the scrum with Atrio Obono and Trevor Thompson delivering off the bench to this sector. This yielded an early Gavin O’Toole penalty to open the scoring but Castlebar replied with a converted try at the end of the opening quarter.
The scrum was again the foundation for Buccaneers second score just four minutes later, enabling Frankie Hopkins, Robert Enraght-Moony, and Dean McMahon to link together to create a wonderful unconverted try finished by Callum Forde. From the restart, the Pirates attacked again, moving the ball and running good lines with fine support play. After another break from the home half by Hopkins, Trevor Phillips had a clean walk in to touchdown. Gavin O’Toole converted to put Buccaneers 15-7 ahead.
The Athlone side extended their advantage in the final move of the half. Club captain Shane Layden, making his first start of the season following a lengthy injury lay-off, had come in for Hopkins who sustained a knock and he quickly made an impact, making a clean link break to swan dive over for an unconverted try. This gave Buccs a 20-7 lead at the interval.
Castlebar retained possession for long periods of the second half but could only muster an unconverted try that was a result of a home mix-up at the back. Buccaneers responded with a bonus point try following a lineout. Substitute Harry Hughes ran in to score at the posts and also add the conversion. Then, as he had done in the first half, another solid scrum gave Layden the platform to run in untouched to score an unconverted try in the final move of the game.
This was a fine team display with Canadian Phillips turning into a very useful second rower while the Shannonsiders had the added dividend of welcome returns to active duty by Layden, Grenham and Graham Lynch.
BUCCANEERS: E O’Toole; G Fallon, D McMahon (captain ), R Enraght-Moony, C Forde; F Hopkins, G Lynch; S Flynn, R Grenham, E Cooney; T Phillips, T Rensford; A Shine-Lynch, G O’Toole and O Treacy. Replacements: A Obono, T Thompson, L Donnelly, H Hughes and S Layden.
CASTLEBAR: L Staunton; J Rowland, C Carter, S Hastings, F Casey; D Plaster, D Togher; L Molloy, S Tonra, Ruairi Hughes; M Staunton, D Mulgrew; F Walsh, G Sullivan and D Staunton. Replacements: P Conneely, D King, J High, A Feeney and Robert Hughes.