A tough evening awaited the 16 players who travelled to Westport on Saturday evening for Buccaneers J1’s. The senior team are currently carrying 22 injured players including 7 front row forwards, so once again our J1 coach Michael Harding had to lace up the boots and scrum down at hooker. Buccs also started two backs at flankers, Callum Forde and Robert Teape who played very well in their new role in this Connacht Junior 1A League tie at Balreask on Saturday night. Had Navan, who had their AIL game postponed, informed Buccs earlier that their U-20 fixture would also be deferred, then the Pirates could have mustered a full complement for the trip west and the outcome could have been very different.
The way this group of players played in the first half can only be described as incredible. The tempo, quick taps and wide to wide play left Westport chasing shadows for a lot of the game. The Pirates were leading 10-7 at half-time with a brilliant solo try from captain Robert Enraght-Moony. Darragh Corbett converted and scored a penalty but missed two other placekicks which would have given them a bigger and well deserved lead at the break.
Westport only entered the Buccs 22 once in the opening half and a strong maul lead them getting over the line.
The second half started much the same with Westport struggling to deal with the energy and line speed of the Buccs defensive line. Unfortunately 11 minutes in Westport scored after another strong maul to take the lead. In that maul what can only be described as a cheap shot punch to the head of Harding, left the player-coach with a nasty large cut. He left the pitch unable to return because of the bleeding. This punch worked in Westport‘s favour as Buccs went to 14 because of uncontested scrums.
The young Buccs side, now getting tired, started knocking on the ball and missing tackles. Westport to be fair kicked very well and kept Buccs pinned back and their powerful running led to a number of late tries. Victory lifts the Mayo side into the top four.
BUCCANEERS:- H.Hughes; C.Digan, D.Corbett, R.Enraght-Moony (captain), Eoin O’Reilly; E.O’Toole, G.Fallon; L.Lashvili, M.Harding, M.Khumbalo; A.Shine-Lynch, F.Galvin; C.Forde, R.Teape and T.Gilheaney. Replacement:- D.O’Rourke.