Seconds capture Curley Cup
BUCCANEERS 14 CORINTHIANS 6
BUCCANEERS SECONDS and their Corinthians counterparts served up compelling fare in the final of the Bank of Ireland Hugh Curley Memorial Cup played at Ballyhaunis’ fine Tooraree facility on Sunday. On a very cold and grey but dry afternoon, Buccs edged a tough contest 14-6 at the elevated venue.
Buccs made four changes from the recent league meeting between these sides with Jenson Nagle and Gerard Fallon returning in the backline and Sean Flynn and Ryan O’Meara coming into the pack. Meanwhile the Tribesmen were greatly realigned with four changes in their backs unit and a trio in the forwards.
Buccs made a promising start and their early territory yielded a 6th minute John Why penalty. In a slick backs move just a minute later possession was transferred to Harry Hughes but the ball squirmed free from the usually deadly finisher with the line at his mercy. Corinthians came into the contest as the game progressed but Dylan Keane was unable to land 21st minute penalty.
The Pirates then had a let off when they knocked on from a kick ahead but the westerners did likewise when in a good position in that sequence. Buccs regained the initiative in the closing stages but Sam Fogarty was held up just short of touching down. However, he won good lineout ball then to earn a 40th minute penalty which Why slotted over to give Buccaneers a 6-0 lead at halftime.
Buccaneers started the second half as brightly as they did in the opening period. Following a scrum on halfway quick ball sent Hughes accelerating away in an arced run towards the right corner where swift support saw O’Meara surge over for the only try of the match on 43 minutes. Why was unable to add the conversion but Buccs now enjoyed an 11-0 advantage.
But shortly afterwards Hughes was again the figure of attention, being sin-binned for an untidy tackle that could have been avoided had the referee pinged for an offside moments earlier when a Corinthians player won possession from a rebound off a teammate! Dylan Keane duly landed this 47th minute penalty and added another just five minutes later to narrow their arrears to 11-6.
It was nip and tuck for the remainder of a gritty contest. Why was off-target with a 71st minute placekick while four minutes later Hughes was involved in the action again. Following a break by Dylan Keane he made a clever and vital block to win a relieving penalty. Two minutes from time good work by the Pirates forwards earned a penalty which Why drilled over to seal the hard-earned 14-6 victory.
All Buccs players contributed to this win which puts Buccaneers name on the fine trophy for the first time. Nodo Guiliashvili, Fogarty and O’Meara were to the fore in the forwards battle while Fallon directed a lively backline with aplomb. Mark Curley, son of Hugh who is remembered by the trophy, presented the Cup with the assistance of Connacht Senior Vice-President Jimmy Staunton to Buccaneers captain Conor Morrissey in the welcoming Ballyhaunis clubhouse after the match.
BUCCANEERS:- J.Nagle; H.Balsiger, R.Murphy-Sweeney, T.Shine, H.Hughes; J.Why, G.Fallon; N.Guliashvili, C.Morrissey (captain), S.Flynn; C.O’Grady, S.Fogarty; C.Brill, L.Balsiger and R.O’Meara. Replacements:- D.Brady (for O’Grady, 56 mins), D.Browne (for Brill, 58 mins), M.Staunton (for Flynn, 62 mins), C.Daly (for Morrissey, 75 mins), C.Brill (for O’Meara, 78 mins), E.McCormack, M.Lyons, S.O’Sullivan and C.Rooney-Digan.
CORINTHIANS:- R.McCleane; R.Doogan, Daniel Keane, G.Hennessy, K.Le Gear; Dylan Keane, J.Fenton; B.Hynes, A.Healy, Dan Keane; S.Concannon, D.McAuliffe; P.McTavish, M.Lyttle and O.Garcia. Replacements:- J.McPhilbin, S.Phillips, E.O’Connor, R.Flynn, M.Donohue, B.Casburn, L.Carpenter and S.Comer-O’Brien.
Referee:- Cathal Roddy (Connacht).