Buccaneers Seconds came up short against a strong Dunmore outfit on their home patch in this Connacht Junior 1A League opening fixture, losing 17-11 on a cold Saturday night as the Galway club avenged their Cawley Cup defeat.

Buccaneers battled manfully against a physically bigger Dunmore side in which they struggled to get a foothold in the game due to a misfiring set piece. In the first half Buccs scrum struggled to hold their own; this was steadied up in the second half by the introduction of Sean Flynn, playing in an unfamiliar tight head position. An inconsistent lineout meant territory could not be converted into two scoring opportunities, depriving a lively Buccaneers backline quality possession in which they surely would have done damage.

The Athlone side went in at halftime only 10-6 behind, playing up the hill and defending their line aggressively on multiple occasions. The Pirates scores were a pair of Andrew Evans penalties.

Buccaneers started off the second half very much on top but turned down a simple three points in front of the posts, opting for a five-metre lineout which was turned over. Buccaneers soon suffered a sucker punch when a pass from the lineout was intercepted by the lively Dunmore scrumhalf to scorch through for a converted try.

This provoked a reaction in the young Buccs team, now carrying with much more intent, but they struggled to go through sufficient phases to stretch the Dunmore defence and release the backs in space. Buccs finished strongly with Orrin Burgess powering his way in for a try at the death to salvage a losing bonus point.

Overall, this was a disjointed display, the need for all players to train together clearly evident. The team was heavily reliant on U-20 players which cannot continue. In fact, many of the key performers were younger players like Cian McCann, Fionn McDonnell, Luke Balsiger, Sam Fogarty, Gavin Daly and aforementioned Burgess. James Kelly led from the front, with Flynn making a very telling contribution. Conor FitzGibbon was the standout player, meeting the Dunmore carries with aggression and making strong carries and good link play.

Special mention must be made of management duo John Doyle and Benny Gilligan, and young players Cian McCann and Orrin Burgess, who travelled to Dunmore having been on duty earlier at Highfield in Cork. That’s true club spirit!

BUCCANEERS:- A.Evans; R.Murphy-Sweeney, H.Balsiger, C.FitzGibbon, O.Burgess; G.Fallon, A.Flanagan; J.Kelly (captain), L.Laoshvilli, A.Obono; F.McDonnell, C.McCann; C.Daly, G.Daly and C.O’Grady. Replacements:- S.Flynn, S.Fogarty, H.Hughes, C.Rooney-Digan, J.Blair, K.Connolly, T.McGann and L.Balsiger.