Buccaneers retain their pivotal league position despite Dubarry Park defeat

Darren Browne glides across the line to score Buccaneers try against MU Barnhall in Dubarry Park

Darren Browne glides across the line to score Buccaneers try against MU Barnhall in Dubarry Park

BUCCANEERS 13 MU BARNHALL 15

MICHAEL SILKE

Buccaneers suffered their first home AIL defeat of the season when going down 15-13 to MU Barnhall in a hard-fought Energia All-Ireland League Division 2A tussle at Dubarry Park on Saturday.

Buccs built up a 13-0 lead by half-time despite playing against the elements but, as has too regularly been the case in this campaign, the Pirates did not put two good halves together and missed out on another victory that would have set them up nicely for next Saturday’s top of the table joust away to Queens University.

The homesters made three changes to their starting XV for this contest. Shane Jennings came in for the injured Saul O’Carroll on the left wing while, with Oisin McCormack unavailable, Brian McDonnell made his first AIL start in the back row.

Charlie Ward returned at tighthead prop. Meanwhile Ruaidhri Fallon and Michael Hanley reverted to their more familiar roles at fullback and flyhalf respectively (where both looked more comfortable ) on a sunny but showery and cold afternoon in front of a decent sized attendance.

Buccs had much of the early possession but, facing the elements, did not enjoy a great deal of territory in the opening exchanges. When they got forward they forced the Kildare side offside and Hanley drilled over the resultant 12th minute penalty.

Shortly afterwards Will Reilly had to put in a key tackle on Adam Chester as the Blue Bulls threatened while Ciaran Booth incurred a stern lecture from referee Colm Roche following a flagging by a touch judge. The referee was again in discussion with the touch judge after 28 minutes when Thomas McGann was late tackled after he had chipped Conor Lacey and the visitors’ left winger was duly sin-binned.

Well Worked Try

Buccs punted the resultant penalty to touch and Ruairi Byrne won clean lineout possession which he transferred to Evan Galvin and the Pirates skipper slipped a neat pass to Darren Browne who surged through to touch down for a try in the Bounty corner.

Hanley kicked an excellent touchline conversion to put the midlanders ten points to the good. MU Barnhall responded and, following a penalty to the right corner, had great territory but Danny Qualter stole their lineout and Reilly made an excellent clearance to relieve the danger.

In the final moments of a stop-start half, Buccs earned another penalty right on the halfway line and, with the final action of the half, Stephen Mannion boomed over a superb penalty to give Buccaneers a 13-0 advantage at the interval.

MU Barnhall were a rejuvenated force following the change of ends which coincided with a change of wind direction in their favour. An early attack signalled their growing intent and Chester looked certain to score but Jennings somehow got a hand in to force a knock-on with the try-line beckoning, but that merely delayed a try for the Kildare club with Lacey making amends for his yellow card, sweeping in for a 45th minute try converted by Chester.

Rain now added to Buccaneers difficulties and conditions seemed more suited to the visitors, for whom captain Tom McKeown’s influence was growing. Following a lineout on the left, the visitors pack drove over for an unconverted Darragh Bellanova try to leave just a single point between the teams after 55 minutes.

As errors crept into the home side’s play, Chester was off-target with what looked like a relatively straight-forward 61st minute penalty when Buccs did not release. He made no mistake six minutes later when the homesters scrum collapsed to edge his side ahead.

MU Barnhall then dug deep to protect their slender advantage and gradually got to grips with the home side’s scrum although Buccs continued to have the better of the lineouts. The hosts were flat in a disappointing second period that lacked a spark and they never really got into their stride despite the endeavours overall of Qualter, Galvin, Reilly and Mannion. However, the losing bonus point keeps Buccaneers in second place on the league table, albeit now seven points adrift of next Saturday’s opponents.

One minute’s silence was observed before kick-off in memory of Ray McLoughlin and Theresa Connaughton.

Top of Table Clash at Queens Awaits

Buccaneers head north for the second time this season with a first ever trip to Dub Lane to take on Queens University in round eight of the Energia All-Ireland League on Saturday. This Division 2A top of the table clash has a 2.30pm kick off in Belfast.

Backboned by Ulster Academy players, Queens have been in free-scoring form notching an incredible 40 points or more in five games to date and have a hugely impressive scoring difference of +213 points.

Lock David Whitten captains the side and is a driving force for the Students for whom Scott Martin, Ben Heath, Michael Orr and James Humphreys get among the scores. However, they are not infallible as they lost at home to Cashel, whom Buccs defeated.

The Pirates will need to be at their focussed, disciplined and sustained best to prevail. Saul O’Carroll is ruled out through injury but Tabo Maree is nearing fitness again and his availability would give the midlanders extra bite in the forwards exchanges.

Buccs have shown real potential in most matches to date and, if they reproduce that for a full 80 minutes, then it could be an enthralling contest at The Dub.

 

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