BUCCANEERS 36-19 Energia All-Ireland League Division 2A victory over Nenagh Ormonde at New Ormonde Park on Saturday virtually assures the midlanders of their place in the top four play-offs. But despite their six try tally this was not one of the Pirates better performances for there were too many errors in a mixed bag display. However, to claim a bonus point away win when the side did not totally click is not to be devalued as the Athlone side got back to winning ways.

Buccs made four changes for this trip to Tipp, all in the backline where Ruaidhri Fallon, Josh O’Connor and Will Reilly returned to the starting line-up with U-20 captain Tom Shine coming in for Shane Layden who was ruled out through illness. Conditions were good for this contest played on a firm sod in bright sunshine with a breeze blowing primarily from end to end towards the town. The midlanders had first use of the elements and scored the opening try inside 33 seconds! Michael Hanley, Stephen Mannion and young Shine combined neatly to send Rory O’Connor through for an unconverted try on the left.

But this did not unsettle the hosts as they went through a series of phases before hooker Conor Muldoon forged a gap in midfield to set up another Conor, McMahon, to surge through for a 5th minute try which the centre converted to give Nenagh a 7-5 lead. Buccs were then caught dozing at a quickly tapped penalty but Oisin McCormack put in a try-saving tackle and the busy flanker was soon in the limelight at the other end of the pitch when Pirates pressure yielded a number of penalties after which McCormack burrowed over for 15th minute try converted by Hanley. This restored the lead to the Athlone club that they would not lose.

McCormack added a second touchdown within three minutes following excellent handling in a move after Nenagh had spilled the ball in the midlanders half. Hanley’s conversion pushed Buccs 19-7 to the good. But Ormonde are fighting desperately to retain their Division 2A status and, following a strong break by John O’Flaherty carried on by Peter Coman, David Gleeson showed great desire to get over the Buccs line after 27 minutes. Strong pressure by the Shannonsiders saw Martin Staunton cross the home line where referee Andrew Mitchell signalled a try but the intervention of a touch-judge denied the stalwart prop indicating a forward pass in the build-up. Just before half-time crossing by Buccs denied them another try opportunity while earlier Mannion did not utilise an overlap to his left and so the interval arrived with the visitors 19-12 to the good.

Battling Nenagh were belying their lowly league position and, with the influential breeze to assist them on the change of ends, this contest was very much in the balance. Fallon made a wonderful mazy run soon after the restart while just four minutes into the second half former Buccs player John Hayes had a try ruled out as Nenagh continued a maul for the third time. This was a warning sign for the Pirates that this game was far from done and dusted. They responded with neat interplay by Mannion, Saul O’Carroll, Declan Adamson and Danny Qualter to send Josh O’Connor away and the winger had the pace to get over for an unconverted 51st minute bonus point try at the left flag.
A tidy Hanley pass then sent Ciaran Booth scampering through from the 22, charging through a number of attempted tackles, with the provider converting to stretch Buccs advantage to 31-12 with eleven minutes remaining. Nenagh had the consolation of the best try of the match, McMahon receiving possession after a scrum and then weaving his way past a handful of mesmerised Buccaneers players to score a 77th minute try converted by Cian Ryan. But Buccs had the final say when Sam Illo displayed power and pace to burst through for a final move try converted by Hanley to complete the 36-19 scoreline.

Buccaneers were much the better outfit, yet coughed up many (often needless) penalties through not releasing and straying offside while handling was sometimes exemplary but on other occasions very sloppy. Too many solo runs also occurred and with a challenging two final fixtures the team will need to repeat the cohesiveness and ruthless streaks shown in the wins over Dolphin and Rainey Old Boys. Injuries to both locks Qualter and Darragh Murray will be a concern ahead of these showdown matches. Mannion and Fallon were bright lights in the backline with young trio Illo, Adamson and McCormack prominent in the forwards battle. Hayes, McMahon and Rob Buckley did their utmost for Ormonde’s cause.

NENAGH ORMONDE:- P.Coman; D.Gleeson, C.McMahon, W.Coffey, P.Scully; D.Corcoran, N.Irwin; F.Brislane, C.Muldoon, N.O’Gorman; K.O’Flaherty (captain), J.O’Flaherty; R.Buckley, E.Murphy and J.Hayes. Replacements:- P.O’Connor (for Muldoon), D.Dunne (for O’Gorman), F.McGibney (for Scully), P.Scully (for Coffey), C.Muldoon (for Brislane), C.Ryan (for Corcoran) and K.O’Gorman.

BUCCANEERS:- R.Fallon; R.O’Connor, T.Shine, S.Mannion, J.O’Connor; M.Hanley, W.Reilly; M.Staunton, D.Adamson, S.Illo; D.Murray, D.Qualter; O.McCormack, E.Galvin (captain) and C.Booth. Replacements:- S.O’Carroll (for Shine), C.Ward (for Staunton, h/t), T.Maree (for Murray, 41 mins), F.Hopkins (for Reilly, 55 mins), D.Browne (for Qualter, 55 mins) and T.Shine (for Rory O’Connor, 60 mins).

Referee:- Andrew Mitchell (IRFU).