Buccs 20s Win the inaugural Ray McLoughlin Cup at Stradbrook.


On their second weekend in a row in the Capital, Buccaneers U-20s came away with a 24-22 Cup win following a dramatic grandstand finish at Stradbrook. Their new coaching ticket of head coach Dave McAllister with his assistants Tom Crampton and Joe Walsh had to deal with all four seasons from mother nature in one game.

The Blackrock College selection was on top from the get-go except in the scrum. Joe Walsh on his Buccs Coaching debut took a leaf out of Rassie Erasmus’ coaching manual in naming 7 forwards on the bench and released his bomb squad into battle at half-time at which stage Buccs trailed 12-7. Oisin Donaghue scored their try and Kevin Maher, who had an excellent debut at outhalf, added the touchline conversion.

It wasn’t until after the final water break huddle, 19-7 down with 20 minutes to go, after a few well-chosen words of inspiration from McAllister did the swashbuckling Shannonsiders start playing like a team that wanted to actually win the game and trophy. From an attacking scrum on the Rock line Robbie Byrne came out of his second row berth and picked from No.8 to score his team’s second try in the corner. With another touchline conversion landed, the Pirates were now playing like men possessed in a cohesive unit. They dealt with the restart very well to set up yet another attack and debutant full back Paudie O’Leochain made a 40-yard clearance kick with Fionn McDonnell robbing the resulting Rock lineout.

This created the move of the game with skillful prop Finian Murray making a 20-yard break, sucking in half a dozen defenders, and scrumhalf Nathan Loughnane got quick ball to the blindside where Byrne released prop Andriu Oates who used all his speed, strength and a swerve to touchdown for what looked the winning try. Another touchline line conversion nosed Buccs 21-19 ahead and it seemed they only had to play down the clock.

But ref Barry Armstrong next blew for an offside around the ruck and Blackrock regained their narrow lead. However, with the clock in red, Buccs backrowers Abu Saka and John Dunican combined to win a turnover penalty near the middle of the pitch. With the last kick of the game, ‘Kicking King’ Andrew Quinn coolly landed the long-range penalty to secure the away Cup 24-22 victory in dramatic style.

The Ray McLoughlin Memorial Cup was presented to the winning Captain Fionn McDonnell by John McLoughlin, Ray’s Son. Both these teams have Leinster league qualifying games ahead with Buccs 20s hosting the mighty Galwegians U20s in Dubarry Park on Sunday next, 2pm K.O. in the inaugural Connacht Rugby \uD83C\uDFC9 U20s league with the league winners and runners-up get the prize of Leinster Premier 2 qualification.

BUCCANEERS:- P.O’Leochain; C.Lyons, Y.Avrahami, C.Smerdon, L.Cassidy, K.Maher, N.Loughnane; E.McDonnell, D.Bolger, A.Oates; F.Murray, F.McDonnell (captain); L.Meachan, P.Egan and R.Byrne. Replacements used:- K.Devaney, R.Goldin, D.McCormack, D.Connolly, S.Joyce, J.Crampton, C.Daly, A.Saka and J.Dunican.