BUCCANEERS U-14’s put in a magnificent second half display to come from behind and defeat Sligo 11-8 in a thrilling Connacht League final played at Creggs excellent The Green grounds on Saturday.

Buccs reached the league final by winning all their league games apart from a famous nil-nil draw with Creggs. The strength of the squad is the large panel which the team has been able to turn to when players are unavailable. Fielding two teams gives all fringe players an opportunity to perform and improve which they would not otherwise get. These young Buccs are a resilient bunch and can play some super rugby. On Saturday they played a great opening 20 minutes and were very near to scoring on a number of occasions. But territory superiority means nothing if not transferred to the scoreboard and, following a set piece failure, Sligo put on the pressure and scored with half-time beckoning. Buccs heads went down for a moment and but for some great defending Sligo could have notched another score before the half-time whistle thankfully blew.

A stern chat during the interval sent Buccs again attacking the Sligo line and eventually Andrew Cotton slotted over a penalty. But Sligo came back to score a simple penalty. Philip Finnan, who had moved to out half, now took matters into his own hands…..picking from the back of a ruck he charged across field beating several players with pace before straightening up to score a fabulous try in the corner. The teams were now level 8-8 with just 10 minutes to go and Buccs were doing all the pressing. They had to score again to win the game as there is no extra time and Sligo had scored the first try which meant they would win the league if it remained tied. Buccs attacked continuously and forced Sligo to concede a penalty which the ice cool Cotton converted via the upright. Buccs then played the rest of the game in the Sligo half and Peter Bourke won a lineout for Darragh Glennon to hoof the ball into touch. Referee Christy O’Sullivan blew the final whistle and jubilation reigned in the Pirates camp.

All the Buccs players had good games but Ciaran West and Reuben Colleran in the forwards and Phillip Finnan and Darragh Glennon in the backs are the mainstays of this team with special mention to Andrew Cotton in only his second game at out half dictating the play with his astute kicking. This was a vital victory for the Athlone club as Sligo had come out on top in both the U-15 and U-17 finals the previous weekend.

BUCCANEERS:- C.West, J.Kelly, J.Ryan, D.Cleary, D.Dullea, C.Brazil, P.Bourke, E.Claffey, T.Coleman, R.Colleran, R.Nagle, N.Kelly, R.Dolan, H.McGowan, F.Byrne, A.Cotton, S.Byrne, D.Glennon, O.O’Donoghue (captain), J.Bourke, P. Finnan, E.Killeen, C.Ainscough, J.Walshe, O.Egan, T.Kenny and E.Duffy.