BUCCANEERS 10 GALWAY CORINTHIANS 12
On a windy squally afternoon, Buccaneers and Galway Corinthians served up an engrossing Connacht U-16 League final at Dubarry Park last Saturday when the home club were pipped 12-10. Buccs, after playing against the influential elements in the opening half, looked to be in a good position when trailing by just two points at the interval. But the visitors, boosted by a try just before the break, dug deep following the change of ends and their resilience was rewarded with a narrow victory. Both teams are to be lauded for their endeavour in a contest that was worthy of a final.
Buccaneers began very brightly despite playing into a strong breeze and gradually got closer to the westerners’ line. Skipper Callum Kelly looked like opening their account after 14 minutes but a trio of Corinthians defenders tackled him into touch within touching distance of their line. But that line was breached just three minutes later when Charlie O’Carroll blocked down an attempted Corinthians clearance and Conor Dowling swooped for an unconverted try that was just reward for the Pirates pressure. However, the Tribesmen got a key breakthrough on 22 minutes in their first concerted attack. Donagh Kilcommons finished off this spell to touchdown with Sean Walsh’s conversion giving the visitors a fortunate 7-5 lead at half-time. Had there been a TMO, the score would surely not have been allowed as the referee got in the way of a Buccaneers tackler.
That try instilled self-belief in the Corinthians ranks as Buccs now attacked relentlessly but the Athlone boys found their opponents steadfast and better disciplined in an absorbing contest. The midlanders lacked that bit of guile and patience at times and a 42nd minute Sean Noone penalty tailed wide in the tricky breeze. With the pitch cutting up in the atrocious weather, both teams gave it their all. The decisive score arrived on 45 minutes after Buccs were forced to ground the ball behind their goalline following a long Walsh kick ahead. From the clearance, Corinthians counter attacked and the rangy Walsh ran strongly to score an excellent try to edge his side 12-5 ahead.
Buccaneers attacked almost incessantly in the remaining quarter hour but could not unlock the Corinthians defence until the final move of the game. Then after going through a wealth of phases Dowling burst through wide on the left for his second try. But the last kick conversion from the touchline fell short and Corinthians celebrated a hard-earned tight victory. Not only was Walsh their match-winner but the imposing centre was player of the match. Buccs had many good performers with hooker Eoin Naughton having a terrific input in the pack where Otega Awhinawhi and Tom Bourke were industrious throughout. Dual try scorer Dowling and Dylan Bruton were pick of the backline for the unlucky Pirates.
BUCCANEERS:- D.Bruton; S.O’Donoghue, C.Dowling, T.Cotton, T.Sheehan; C.Naughton, C.O’Carroll; L.Clayburn, E.Naughton, S.Walsh; R.Claffey, J.Heaslip; T.Bourke, O.Awhinawhi and C.Kelly (captain). Replacements:- N.Downes (for Cla\yburn), E.McMickan, J.Bourdon, B.Conroy, S.Noone, N.Derwin, C.Dolan and P.Begley.
GALWAY CORINTHIANS:- C.Joyce; L.Daly, F.Strain, S.Walsh, B.Cooke; D.Browne, D.Conneely; D.Kilcommins, E.Kavanagh, J.Dylan-McDonagh; C.Curling, L.Cahill; R.Joyce, M.Farragher and C.Keane. Replacements:- M.O’Shea, J.Craig, E.Walsh, J.Gibson, R.Dolan, C.McCullough, C.Dooley and C.Heavey.
Referee:- G.Geraghty (Connacht).