Buccaneers 20’s back to winning ways
Old Belvedere 10 Buccaneers 31

A youthful Buccaneers got back to winning ways in overcoming Old Belvedere in the JP Fanagan Leinster U-20 Premier League 2 at Ollie Campbell Park in Ballsbridge on Sunday. With a large cohort of players working on returning from injury, and several frontline players unavailable due to AIL involvement the previous Friday night, the coaches gave opportunities to a number of the wider squad and they did not disappoint. Liam Doyle returned from a long injury lay off, and he was joined by Andy Kelly and Harry Stewart who both got their first starts. Recently returned out-half Sean Flynn made only his second start in the key playmaker position. Harry O’ Reilly travelled but was rested, and with Oisin Kiernan out injured, props Lasha Laoshvilli and Cedric Forkin packed down for the first time together.

A very strong wind blew across the pitch and Old Belvedere must be complimented on the quality of the surface given the deluges of the last month. Buccaneers dominated all the early exchanges but were a bit impatient in the closing phases, with penalties accruing aplenty to both sides. On 15 minutes, and from one such penalty, Darren Browne took matters in his own hands, and from a tap and go, he caught the home cover unawares, and raced through for the opening try under the posts. Michael Byrne added the easy conversion. The remainder of the half was very frustrating for the visitors who despite owning possession and completely dominating all set pieces, could not advance the scoreboard.

Liam Doyle received a yellow card on 25 minutes for backchat to the referee and could have no issue with the decision. On 33 minutes Browne almost intercepted the ball but was very harshly adjudged to have deliberately knocked on and followed Doyle into the bin. As Doyle re-entered the fray, Cathal O’Grady made a strong defensive tackle but again the referee took a harsh line and adjudged the tackle to be high and O’Grady was sent to the bin! With 13 men closing the first half, Buccaneers were caught for numbers out wide and the home side registered their opening score which they failed to convert. There was still time for a bit of magic – Sean Flynn gathered a high clearance on his half way line and ran the ball, wizard like, on a mazy line through the Old Belvedere defence to score a great individual try. Byrne again converted and Buccaneers were deservedly 14-5 up at half time.

Buccaneers were far more clinical in the second half. Kelly and Cian Daly were introduced and both got almost a full half and produced very strong performances. Keelan Connolly also got game time and was effective as the pack continued its dominance. That dominance was rewarded on 15 minutes with a penalty try as Old Belvedere illegally infringed with the visitors pounding on the try line. Bradley Nealon entered the fray and the Ballina man was menacing throughout.

On 25 minutes scrum half Leo McFarlane took a great line and fed the eager Flynn with a measured pass to finish in the corner with his second try of the day. Byrne missed the conversion, but had the final say when a strong break and pass from Browne led to Byrne scampering down the wing for the final score of the game. Mark Tallon produced the line break of the day with the big lock ploughing through from half way only to be held up inches from the line. Credit Old Belvedere for a final flurry and they were rewarded with the final score of the game to leave Buccaneers with a bonus try victory on a score-line of 10-31.

This was a very useful outing as Buccaneers prepare for the upcoming Purcell Cup quarter final with St Mary’s College on March 29th. Flynn excelled at out-half and with Jensen Nagle were a constant running threat with ball in hand. O’Grady was the pick of a dominant pack with the front row trio of Forkin, Browne and Laoshvilli particularly impressive.

Buccaneers:- J Nagle, H Stewart, D Mulvihill, M Byrne, H Balsiger, S Flynn, L McFarlane, C Forkin, D Browne (Capt), L Laoshvilli, M Tallon, C O’Grady, G Catarino, L Doyle, J Scouler, C Daly, H O’Reilly, A Kelly, K Connolly, B Nealon, S O’Carroll and D Murray.