Seconds reach Cawley Plate Final


Buccaneers qualified for the Plate final of the Cawley Cup when claiming a 20-19 victory away to Tuam in an at times tempestuous semi-final on Sunday. The fixture afforded coaches Paul Byrne and Benny Gilligan the opportunity to try new combinations and give some players gametime in advance of the resumption of the J1A league against the same opposition later in November.

Sean Doyle made his first start for the club since returning to club rugby and occupied the critical out-half berth. Jensen Nagle and Harry Hughes made their debuts having returned from GAA duties with their respective clubs. Darren Touhey was named on the bench for his first involvement having transferred back to his home club whilst Brian McDonnell captained the must changed away side. It took just 2 minutes for Doyle to show what he has to offer Buccaneers this season. His brother Liam had won an excellent aerial contest and, following a quick recycle, the ball was fed to Doyle who put in the most delicate of kicks over the advancing cover to set Andy Evans off on a mazy run on the wing to finish for an unconverted try.

Both teams then traded penalties before Tuam breached the visitors line following some poor defending with an unconverted try on 25 minutes to level the game at 8-8. The Tuam out-half was deservedly red carded for a dangerous high tackle and kick to the head of Brian McDonnell. The home team had lost their discipline and on 35 minutes Harry Hughes took matters into his own hands, when in trademark style the winger ran from halfway to score under the posts. Sean Doyle had the easiest of conversions.

Darren Browne had to leave the field of play with bad facial injuries and was replaced by Rory Grenham. Touhey also entered the fray for Keelan Connolly and made his presence immediately felt with some thundering work. The first half played out with continued off the ball incidents but the Buccaneers team showed strong composure and took a 7-point lead into the break.

The second half opened with Tuam scoring a fine unconverted try and immediately gaining momentum. The game descended into an arm wrestle and Tuam further advanced the scoreboard with 2 penalties as the game entered the final quarter. With the home team now 4 points up Buccaneers had to score a try to prevail.

The visitors threw caution to the wind, and in the closing minutes Harry Balsiger made a break from deep and fed Hughes who had the retrieving Tuam defence at sixes and sevens. The ball was shipped to McDonnell who had too much power and resolve and, although the captain had a lot of work to do, he crossed the line to huge cheers from the Pirates in attendance. Doyle narrowly missed the conversion, and Buccaneers had a solidary one point lead. With time almost up, Buccaneers gave away 2 penalties, but the full back who was deputising as kicker given the earlier red card, narrowly missed both chances.

The referee brought the game to a close and Buccaneers had prevailed. Lessons will be taken from this one and a repeat performance in the league will simply not be good enough. The huge positive was again this Buccaneers Seconds team won the game and are now proving very hard to beat. They also blooded a number of players and should be at full strength for the J1A league game on November 28th.

In the backs, Sean Doyle had a fine game as did Nagle, Hughes and Cameron Rooney-Digan and all have firmly put their hands up for starting league spots. In the forward exchanges McDonnell was again imperious and pundits are agreed it will not be long before the back rower will see AIL rugby with the Senior side. Touhey was a strong presence from the bench and will improve with games. With players of the calibre of Sam Kroupe, captain Colin Daly, Ben Porter, Cedric Fokam, Niall Harney, Cathal O’Grady, Jack Scouler and Mark Tallon available, this Seconds group have the talent and motivation to give Tuam a greater contest in the return league game.

The plate final will be played on the weekend of December 11th / 12th and the opposition will be NUIG. Buccaneers will savour the challenge to bring some early silverware to the club and will look forward to the occasion which will be the final club senior game of 2021.

BUCCANEERS:- Jensen Nagle; Harry Hughes, Andy Evans, Robert Teape, Cameron Rooney-Digan; Sean Doyle, Gerard Fallon; Sean Flynn, Darren Browne, Trevor Thompson; Fergus Galvin, Keelan Connolly; Liam Doyle, Ronan Murray and Brian McDonnell [Captain]. Replacements:- Rory Grenham, Cian Daly, Darren Touhey, Harry Balsiger, Ruan Venter and Dara Mulvihill.