BUCCANEERS suffered a disappointing 14-0 defeat by Garryowen in their Energia All-Ireland League Division 1B game played at Dubarry Park on Saturday. Wind and showers made for testing conditions on the soft going where the Limerick side’s bigger pack had an advantage as Buccs really felt the absence of the injured Danny Qualter.

The early exchanges were contested mainly in midfield with the elements favouring the visitors. Buccs had the first scoring opportunity but while Stephen Mannion’s ambitious 16th minute penalty against the breeze had the range it veered off-target. Garryowen conceded numerous penalties in the opening quarter and eventually referee Eddie Hogan-O’Connell lost patience with their indiscretions and yellow-carded Kevin Seymour on 19 minutes.

But instead of the homesters taking advantage of their temporary numerical advantage it was Garryowen who struck for a quick brace of tries in a four minute spell to seize the initiative. In their first serious inroad into home territory following a penalty to the left, they mauled forward before going through a series of phases and Kelvin Langan’s dummy earned space for the outhalf to knife through for a 25th minute try.

Four minutes later the light blues claimed possession on a Buccs lineout at the ten-metre line and Mikey Veale sent Kyle Reid scampering away along the right touchline, evading a number of tackles all too easily for a try. Jack Delaney converted both touchdowns and suddenly Garryowen had a 14-0 lead despite being down a player.

Buccs best chance of the half came just before the interval when a penalty to touch brought them within five metres of the opposition line. Garryowen then brought down a home maul but survived when a long throw went awry and Langan’s kick relieved the danger as half-time arrived with the Pirates still trailing 14-0.

The second half was relatively uneventful as Garryowen tenaciously defended their lead with both defences putting in keen tackling throughout. Delaney made a threatening break for the Munster side and Matthew Burke forced a key penalty relieving penalty for the midlanders. At the three-quarters stage, Buccaneers applied fierce pressure after a Liam McNamara break. They camped close to the Garryowen line for a period during which a visiting front-rower was sin-binned but just could not breach committed defending by the Limerick club.
When Cian McCann was pinged for holding on, Garryowen with Jeronimo Ureta Saenz and Sean Rennison to the fore cleared their lines and saw out the contest for a hard-earned win that moves them up the league table. Despite their best endeavours, including an Audi Athlone Man of the Match effort by Cathal Walsh, Buccs lineout creaked and they lacked a spark of creativity that could have earned something from this tough encounter as they were held scoreless for the first time this season.

BUCCANEERS:- L.McNamara; O.Burgess, S.Layden, S.Mannion, C.O’Shaughnessy; M.Hanley, F.Hopkins (captain); J.Kelly, M.Victory, M.Burke; F.Galvin, F.McDonnell; C.Walsh, G.Daly and C.McCann. Replacements:- R.O’Meara (for Daly), T.Shine (for Burgess), O.Dolan, F.Murray, L.MacFarlane and R.Murphy-Sweeney.

GARRYOWEN:- O.McNulty; J.J.O’Neill, B.Fitzgerald (captain), J.Delaney, G.Wood; K.Langan, K.Reid: M.Veale, D.Tierney-Martin, D.McCarthy; O.Cooke, K.Seymour; J.Ureta Saenz Pena, D.Byrne and S.Rennison. Replacements:- F.Byrnes, B.O’Sullivan, S.Leahy, J.Keane, C.Quilligan and N.Greene.

Referee:- Eddie Hogan-O’Connell (IRFU).