BUCCANEERS U-20’s 31 UCD U-20’s 21

BUCCANEERS U-20’s scored a merited 31-21 J.P.Fanagan Leinster League Premier 2 victory over University College Dublin’s Seconds in a well contested joust at Dubarry Park on the bank holiday Monday. This bonus point win moves the Athlone side up to third on the league table while the Students departed empty-handed.

A chilly breeze blowing from goal to goal ensured that this was a game of two halves. Buccs had first benefit of the elements on the west pitch and were in front after just 7 minutes. It was a well-worked score stemming from a scrum inside the UCD 22 on the left and slick handling saw the ball reach Donagh McCormack who dotted down near the right flag. Adam O’Carroll added an excellent touchline conversion.
College had a penalty opportunity four minutes later following a ruck infringement, the placekick brought ten metres nearer the home uprights due to a silly throwing away of the ball, but Sean Verdon’s effort was off-target.

The Pirates had a monopoly of territory and loads of possession but coughed up a series of scoring opportunities primarily by holding on too long and also some knock-ons. But the midlanders eventually added to their tally, helped by a UCD knock-on in the home half. Referee Michael Honan, who officiated with pragmatism throughout, played advantage and Ben Daly grubbered the ball ahead twice before winning the race to touchdown for an unconverted 26th minute try on the left.

Six minutes later, Buccs pressure on the right flank was rewarded when Oisin Dolan got over the line to edge the Shannonsiders 17-0 to the good. This was followed by a brief exchange of handbags! Buccaneers notched a quartet of tries in the closing 14 minutes of the half to transmit their dominance on to the scoreboard.

Daly again showed his eye for an opportunity, breaking from halfway after claiming a UCD clearance the flying winger cruised through the gears to score a super solo try at the posts that secured a bonus point. The Pirates promptly added another try following some smashing play from their own 22 with John Dunican finishing the move in style for a 37th minute try. O’Carroll converted these two tries to put Buccs 31-0 to the good.

In a rare foray into the home 22, UCD gained reward when Aaron Lysaght-Walsh crashed over between the posts and Verdon duly converted to narrow his side’s arrears to 31-7 at halftime. This score reenergised the visitors following the change of ends and they applied some sustained pressure before the towering James Dunne grabbed a try in a move that stemmed from an ill-judged Buccs clearance. Verdon duly converted this 53rd minute try and it was truly game on now.

Buccs lifted the siege for a period around the hour mark with McCormack and Robbie Byrne making promising breaks but Dunican incurred a yellow card at this stage and that took some wind out of the Pirates sails. Nevertheless, the homesters looked like scoring a try following a wonderful maul but got their signals mixed up and conceded a penalty, much to the relief of the metropolitans.

UCD narrowed their arrears further with a late Max Brophy try converted by Verdon but it was too little too late for them. Buccaneers really should have had a more clearcut lead at half-time for they spoiled three or four scoring chances through lack of sharpness. However, the young Pirates put in rousing and sustained defensive shift in the second half. It must be noted too that a number of them played in the Bateman Cup win over Queen’s University only two days earlier so huge commitment shown. Overall, it was a solid and gritty performance by the squad with some exciting handling at times and completed a highly successful weekend, on and off the pitch, at the club.

BUCCANEERS:- A.O’Carroll; D.McCormack, Y.Avrahami, T.Shine (captain), B.Daly; J.Blair, D.Colgan; D.Bolger, O.Dolan, C.Byrne; K.Egan, C.McCann; J.Dunican, G.Daly and R.English. Replacements:- D.Feehan (for Daly, h/t), C.Brill (for Dolan, 55 mins), A.Burke (for McCann, 55 mins), B.Daly (for O’Carroll, 70 mins), S.Kelly and E.Naughton.

UCD:- T.Henderson; T.O’Donnell, G.Courage-Foynes, T.O’Brien, D.Nagle; S.Verdon, M.Sullivan; P.Stapleton, A.Lysaght-Walsh, J.Dunne; H.Martin, M.Brophy; E.Clarke, R.Saunders and C.McCarthy. Replacements:- S.Nee (for Stapleton, h/t), D.Kenny (for O’Donnell, 59 mins), K.Berneri (for Courage-Foynes, 59 mins) and B.Piquee (for Saunders, 21 mins).

REFEREE:- Michael Honan (Connacht).