>Young Buccs capture U-14 Cup
BUCCANEERS 17 CARRICK-ON-SHANNON 14
BUCCANEERS and Carrick-On-Shannon provided lots of exciting and quality play in their Connacht U-14 Cup final with the Athlone boys winning a lively decider 17-14 at sunny Galway Sportsground on Sunday. Buccs made the early running to lead 12-0 but the Co. Leitrim lads fought back to edge 14-12 ahead in the second half. However, the young Pirates rallied to take the spoils over their gallant fellow Shannonsiders.
In front of a large and vocal crowd Buccaneers had first use of the considerable breeze but an early Jamie Kieran break kept them on their toes before Darragh Glennon was fractionally wide with a penalty. Then Nathan Kelly stormed forward to set up a promising raid by the Pirates and pressure was maintained inside the Carrick 22 where the No.8 finished off the move near the uprights. Lennon added a neat conversion to this 11th minute try.
It quickly got better for Buccs when a penalty to the left earned them good territory. They showed slick handling and composure following the lineout in their endeavours to unlock their opponents’ rearguard with Hugo McGowan and Philip Finnan prominent. After Ryan Nagle was held up, Glennon got over on the right but the centre’s conversion was off-target. Carrick finished the half strongly following a weaving break by Rian Costello but Buccaneers held their line intact to lead 12-0 at half-time.
Now aided by the wind, the Leitrim lads were soon on the offensive and Costello slalomed through the Buccs defence for a try that gave a big lift to his teammates. Jack Moolick converted and five minutes later the captain’s second conversion nosed Carrick 14-12 ahead. Their second try stemmed by Finnan being sluggish in dealing with a long kick ahead and the Leitrim lads swarmed forward where they were allowed swiftly tap a number of penalties in quick succession before their pressure yielded the alert Kieran his second try.
This score now put it up to Buccaneers and they were not found wanting with Kelly in the vanguard of their recovery. They pounded the Carrick line for a period with Finnan’s stretch being a millimetre short but the young Pirates remained focussed and their sustained force was rewarded when Peter Bourke burrowed over for an unconverted try to regain the lead eight minutes from time. They then survived a late scare when Carrick-On-Shannon made a late desperate attack to take the spoils but Finnan made up for his earlier tardiness with a try-saving tackle to ensure the trophy headed to the centre of Ireland.
Glennon’s prodigious boot kept pegging his opponents on the back foot and his centre colleague Oisin O’Donoghue did a lot of good work too while Andrew Cotton and especially the zippy McGowan were a topclass halfback pairing. Kelly was pick of the pack where Evin Claffey dominated the lineouts. One notable member of this Buccaneers squad was Vlad Kotsiuba, a young refugee recently arrived from Ukraine, who made an impact in the front row following his introduction during the second half. All in all this was a tremendous team performance while the losers from upriver on the Shannon can take pride and consolation in their contribution to an excellent final.
BUCCANEERS:- P.Finnan; R.Nagle, D.Glennon, O.O’Donoghue (captain), J.Bourke; A.Cotton, H.McGowan; C.West, J.Kelly, J.Ryan; E.Claffey, P.Bourke; R.Colleran, R.Dolan and N.Kelly. Replacements:- V.Kotsiuba (for West), O.Egan, D.Cleary, S.Byrne, S.Nugent, H.Hannon and A.Brown.
CARRICK-ON-SHANNON:- S.Gaffney; A.Copley, R.Costello, J.Moolick (captain),J.Kieran; C.Kelly, O.Beirne; M.French, J.Keville, S.McGreevy; R.Connolly, C.O’Brien; I.Martin, A.Hewson and C.Slevin. Replacements:- C.McDermott, A.McNiff, A.Bryan, P.Mullaney, C.Haupt, R.Gavican, L.Charles and J.Prior.
Referee:- John Fitzmaurice (Connacht).