Buccaneers Go Down To Naas In Final League Fixture

Written 4 months ago by Midlands Sport


Despite fielding a very injury depleted squad Buccaneers put up a brave and adventurous showing when going down 33-19 to Naas at Forenaughts in their final All-Ireland League Division 1B fixture of the season on Saturday. The Cobras victory was not as straight-forward as anticipated for the hosts whose final move try flattered their winning margin somewhat. Nevertheless, Naas confirmed their Top Four play-off berth with this victory but Buccaneers can take considerable confidence and encouragement from their lively and committed display.

    Buccs made eight changes for this ‘dead rubber’ game with youth getting its fling including a senior debut by Brian McDonnell at openside flanker. On a fine but bitterly cold afternoon, the visitors had first use of the considerable elements but it was Naas who dominated the opening quarter. However, their only scoring opportunity in that period was an off-target 7th minute penalty by Peter Osborne. Martin Staunton turned over possession on half-way and quick ball sent Rory O’Connor weaving his way through for a 15th minute try against the run of play converted by Michael Hanley.

This steadied the youthful Pirates crew who grew in confidence and they threatened the home line on a number of occasions through promising carries by Evan Galvin, Staunton and Sean Masterson, the latter being brought to ground just short of the home line. Then following an exciting break by Robert Enraght-Moony, Darragh Corbett finished off a good 24th minute move for an unconverted try and a 12-0 lead.

Naas opened their account in fortuitous manner, the referee and touch judge both missing a clearcut knock-on under their noses that helped the Cobras get close to the visitors’ line where Ruadhan McDonnell powered over for a 29th minute try converted from the left by Osborne. Three minutes later, Aidan Wynne made good ground on the sloping pitch but Buccs could not profit from a teasing crossfield kick that was knocked on in the swirling wind. Naas punished this when Andrew Ellis broke following the scrum and kicked ahead with the ball bouncing kindly on the hard surface to Fionn Higgins who off-loaded to the supporting Niall Delahunt. Ellis had continued his run and Delahunt’s pass sent him scampering in for a try converted by Osborne.

In the final move of the half, Buccaneers were awarded a penalty in front of the posts but opted to punt to touch on the left where Naas snaffled possession from the lineout. In hindsight the Athlone side should have taken the straight-forward placekick that would have edged them ahead. Instead they trailed 14-12 at the interval.

Twelve minutes into the second half, Osborne knifed through the centre for a try between the uprights and he added the conversion. Buccs substitute Conor Kenny was sin-binned for bringing down a maul at the hour mark and Naas clinched their bonus point when, after a fine surge by Eoin Walsh, Peter Hastie escaped the clutches of the Pirates defence for a try at the posts. Osborne’s conversion stretched the homesters’ lead to 28-12.

Buccs remained competitive, however, utilising their bench and fine-tuning their backline and Naas were forced to concede penalties. One infringement too many saw referee Dan Carson produce a yellow card to David Benn on 72 minutes. The midlanders continued to battle and Galvin was held up over the line before Hanley sniped a 76th minute try which Luke Carty converted.

But Naas had the final say when a swift counter attack saw replacement Conor Doyle get over for an unconverted try wide on the right in the last move of an entertaining contest. Naas will need to improve on this display against Old Wesley when they could be missing key No.8 and captain Paulie Tolofua, who sustained an early injury in this duel.

Meanwhile Buccaneers can take considerable heart from the adventure and enterprise of this performance by their youthful squad ahead of the first visit of Queens University to Dubarry Park for next Saturday’s play-off. Hanley continues to blossom at fly-half, McDonnell was a bundle of energy on his debut, O’Connor showed his finishing prowess and Galvin was defiant from start to finish in a gallant effort by the pack.

NAAS:- P.Osborne; F.Higgins, N.Delahunt, E.Walsh, A.Ellis; P.Hastie, R.Fahy; S.Lackey, G.Reynolds, A.Coyle; P.Monahan, D.Benn; R.McDonnell, W.O’Brien and P.Tolofua (captain). Replacements:- C.Dempsey (for Tolofua, inj. 5 mins), C.Doyle (for Lackey, 43 mins), F.Carr (for Fahy, 55 mins), G.Pettit (for Osborne, 68 mins), J.Barry (for Coyle, 68 mins) and S.Lackey (for O’Brien, 72 mins).

BUCCANEERS:- G.Lynch; A.Wynne, R.O’Connor, R.Enraght-Moony, D.Corbett; M.Hanley, F.Hopkins; M.Staunton (captain), R.Grenham, N.Farrelly; R.Byrne, T.Rensford; S.Masterson, B.McDonnell and E.Galvin. Replacements:- C.Kenny (for Farrelly, 49 mins), C.Reilly (for Enraght-Moony, 49 mins), L.Carty (for Lynch, 55 mins), D.Browne (for Grenham, 57 mins), N.Farrelly (for McDonnell, 61-71 mins temp), O.Treacy (for Rensford, 68 mins) and T.Rensford (for McDonnell, 72 mins).

Referee:- Dan Carson (IRFU).