Free-scoring Jordan Conroy inspired Ireland to qualify for the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games when they outscored all opposition in the World Rugby Sevens repechage in Monaco to claim the precious final berth.
Ireland kicked off their bid with a 31-10 victory over Zimbabwe and followed that up with comprehensive wins over Mexico 31-0 and Tonga 43-0. Hong Kong was defeated 28-5 before a 21-7 victory over Samoa confirmed Ireland’s place in the repechage decider. That winner takes all match was against host nation France who were equally impressive in topping their pool.
Terry Kenndy scored an early try to put Ireland 7-0 ahead but France scored two tries in quick succession just before half-time to lead 12-7 at the break. They looked to be in pole position at that stage but Ireland had other ideas and France did not score again until the final move the match.
Conroy then showed his mettle and lightening pace to score a brace of tries that helped edge Ireland 21-12 ahead, his touchdowns confirming the Buccaneers player as the leading scorer in the tournament. Harry McNulty completed Ireland’s try tally in this gripping encounter and Billy Dardis converted all four tries in a splendid 28-19 triumph.
Skipper Dardis said this win had “put Ireland Sevens on the map. Olympic qualification has been the result of six years hard work and dedication by the core of this squad”. In a nice touch, Dardis gave another Buccaneers player Shane Layden an honourable mention as “one of the guys who contributed so much” at the start.
Conroy’s try-scoring feats are a major factor in Ireland’s achievements and, with Robbie Henshaw heading off on the Lions tour shortly, the Athlone club has much to be mightily proud of at the moment.
Buccs duo star in Ireland U20S win
Buccaneers had further reason to be proud when two rising stars Shane Jennings and Oisin McCormack were both highly impressive in Ireland’s 38-7 opening win over Scotland in the Six Nations U20 championship on Saturday.
Both players were just held up short of the Scottish line in the opening minutes before Jennings got reward for a particularly impressive second half display when he scored a try. He could have had a second but was deemed not to have control of the ball when attempting to touchdown; an obvious nudge to his back before he gathered possession was somehow not noticed by the various match officials! McCormack too was denied a try in similar circumstances in the first half but, on that occasion, a penalty try was awarded and a Scotland player was yellow carded.
An ankle injury sustained in training has, disappointingly, ruled Darragh Murray out of Ireland’s remaining fixtures.
This year’s championship is being played in Cardiff and Ireland face hosts Wales in the next round on Friday night. Kick off is 8 pm and live coverage is on RTE.
Shane Delahunt centurion
When Connacht completed this season’s fixtures with a 26-19 Rainbow Cup win over Ospreys, Shane Delahunt was winning his 100th cap for the province and marked the occasion with the opening try. Delahunt has got more game time with Connacht this season and his performances improved as a result. He must have been fairly close to being called up, along with fellow hooker and Buccaneer, David Heffernan, to Andy Farrell’s squad for Ireland’s two matches in July. Congratulations Shane on becoming Connacht’s latest centurion.
Belated congratulations too to Eoghan Masterson whose appearance against Ospreys was his 111th for Connacht.
Michael Cleary 80 not out!
Not quite a centurion yet but long-serving officer at Buccaneers RFC Michael Cleary recently celebrated a BIG roundy birthday.
Clonmel man, Michael, currently holds the key Secretary role in the club. He has been involved for more years than he may wish to remember, originally coming on board at then Athlone RFC when the squash club was started there.
He has played key roles particularly in the development of club facilities and was honoured as Club President. Happy Birthday Michael and here’s to many more of them.
Buccaneers rugby summer camp will take place in August at Dubarry Park. The camp is for boys and girls aged 7 to 12 years and will be held on Monday, July 9 to Friday, July 13, from 9.30 am to 12.30 pm daily. The camp will be compliant with all IRFU Covid-19 regulations. Cost is €70 and every participant will receive a free rugby ball and T-shirt.
Boys and girls can have fun, keep fit, learn skills and make new friends at the Buccaneers camp. Early booking is recommended. To do so, contact the club’s Administrator Geraldine at 0861732711 or email her at [email protected]
Keith Byrne was drawn out of the hat in last week’s Buccaneers RFC 50/50 DRAW and he wins €157.