BALLINASLOE 5 BUCCANEERS 7 (U-15s)
An epic rugby match was witnessed last Sunday involving two hugely committed teams serving up an immense battle of intense, highly skilled rugby which enthralled everyone who was lucky enough to be there. No, it wasn’t in the Millenium Stadium, it was in the slightly less auspicious venue of Moher Road, Ballinasloe where Ballinasloe and Buccaneers clashed in the Connacht Under 15 league.
Matches between these two clubs at all levels are always fiercely contested, particularly due to the their former amalgamation for a period between the mid 90s and mid 2000s. This game was no different and both teams served up an exhibition of committed and skilled rugby which ended up with a narrow 5-7 win for the visiting Pirates.
The first 15 minutes was a ding dong battle largely played between both 22 metre lines with both defences coping well with whatever their opponents threw at them. As the half wore on, the well drilled Ballinasloe team got the upper hand and following a sustained period of pressure near the Buccs line their speedy backline spotted a mismatch on the blindside of a ruck 10 metres out and cleverly switched the play to go over for a try eight metres from the corner flag. The Ballinasloe place-kicker narrowly missed the conversion which would later prove to be crucial.
Buccaneers managed to get to half time with no further breaches and used the time well to re-group. Ten minutes into the second half, following a period of sustained pressure, the Buccaneers Captain Shane Greene, who lead the side magnificently, spurned the opportunity to kick three easy points from in front of the posts. The penalty was tapped quickly and, following a series of quick rucks, second row Rob Muldoon drove powerfully towards the Ballinasloe line. Although initially held up short, his pack supported in behind him to get him over the line where he managed to ground the ball superbly. A true team score which typified the tenacity of these young Buccs.
The ever lively scrum-half Leo McFarlane stroked over the conversion which was to prove to be the match winning score. The Buccaneers team managed to counter the gallant Ballinasloe players as they tried to redeem the game. The Galwaymen had one penalty with five minutes remaining but the kick sailed narrowly wide. The contest finished with Ballinasloe camped on the Buccs line but, following a knock-on, Buccs were awarded a scrum which they won and the referee blew the final whistle after the impressive Jack Scouler kicked the ball dead.
The entire squad of 20 players deserve great credit for their superb performance, in particular their tackling, rucking and never say die attitude proving just enough to overcome their game opponents.
Buccaneers:- Tommy Devery, Dean Buckley, Ethan Connolly, Julian Devenny, Martin Fallon, Shane Greene (captain), Darragh Murray, Ruairi Campion, Leo McFarlane, John Why, Cameron Rooney-Duigan, Jack Scouler, Conor Larkin, Killian O’Sullivan, Dean Reynolds, Ebhan Slattery, Patrick Lynch, Kevin Horan, Robert Muldoon and Michael Byrne.
Keith Farnan, Derek Ryan, Anthony Duignan.
John Waters, Niall Daly, Niamh Ni Dhroma, Paul Hamilton.
Nick Purcell, Patrick Doran, Larry Fallon, Damien Larkin, David Connolly, Paul Fogarty (Snr).
Paul Byrne, John Doyle, David Dunning, Tony Ennis.
Patrick Kenny, Paul Brosnan, Padraig Slevin.
David Henshaw, Pearse Connell, Eoin Slevin, Paul Byrne.
YOUTHS & MINIS AWARDS ON SUNDAY EVENING
Buccaneers Youths and Minis Awards will be presented to the Robbie Henshaw’s of the future at The Bounty on Sunday evening. The Minis get the proceedings under way from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. followed by the Youths from 7 p.m. till 9 p.m. There will be a BBQ and DJ music. Subscription is €10 for adults and €5 for Youths/Minis.
Buccaneers Yellow Vs Ballina U15’s -Connacht League Semi-final by Brian Tallon
Buccs Yellows were hoping for success as they faced Ballina in the semi-final of the U15 Connacht League to help offset the disappointment for their team mates Buccs Black team, who narrowly lost to Corinthians in the other Semi Final. The task was a mammoth one for the Yellow team, as they had already lost to Ballina earlier in the campaign and Ballina remained unbeaten going into this match.
Ballina had the kick-off and Buccs went well from the start with a confident catch by 2nd row Keelan Connolly setting up the platform for a Midlanders attack which led to an infringement by the Ballina lads at the ruck and resulted in a superb penalty kick from outhalf John Tumelty right into the left corner, 10 metres out from Ballina’s try zone. After 3 good phases of forward’s pick and go off the base of well protected rucks, Buccs wing forward James Finlass ducked under a sea of bodies to touch down for the opening score and 5 points to Buccs. Shane Coughlan’s conversion kick unfortunately failed to find its mark.
Ballina showed their character by responding decisively after try scoring hero Finlass knocked on the ball at the re-start due to cross purpose with his wing forward partner Conor Rohan as both went for the restart ball and the resultant scrum was the impetus for Ballina’s retaliatory try scored moments later. Their no.10 slotted over his conversion to give them the lead 7-5 after only 4 minutes of play.
Both sides contested ferociously at the breakdown and the big hits did take their toll as Buccs hooker Patrick Ryan had to leave the field of play when he was winded, to be substituted by James Downes, who himself then had to be replaced by the barely recovered Ryan, after only 1 minute of rugby, after Downes took a hard knock to his knee.
The intensity and commitment with which Buccs attacked and protected the breakdown allowed the Buccs to control the game and their much improved rucking gave Ballina little chance to impose themselves on the game.
Ballina tried to mix up the game by kicking over the top, but Rory Smith on the right wing caught the ball and drew 2 tacklers to off load to John Tumelty at full back, who in turn broke around 2 weak tackles in the centre of the park to open up the defence and bring play right up to Ballina’s 22. This led to Buccs being able to set up a Maul on the Ballina 5 metre line and credit to Ballina’s stoic defence as they held up the Buccs attack and won a penalty scrum when the maul failed to go forward. Ballina’s scrum half ill advisedly tried to run the ball back across his own try zone off the scrum and Darragh Mulvihill’s quick pace and rush tackle forced him to try off load to his Centre, who lost the ball to the ground. Both Rory Smith and James Finlass dived for it and Smith got the ball under control to ground it for an opportunistic try and put Buccs back into the lead 10-7. Again Coughlan’s conversion kick failed to find its mark and the 1st half finished out with 10 more minutes of intense play but no additional scores for either side.
In the second half Buccs restarted and the Midland lads had the better attacks, but were stopped short of the try line on 3 occasions as Ballina defended heroically.
On a day when all players on the field put in monumental performances it was hard to identify a stand-out performance, however special mention has to be given to both Conor Rohan at 7, who made big tackle after big tackle and was instrumental in killing off any chances for Ballina to set up plays from rucks or set pieces, and Liam Winnett who carried ball time and time again, creating holes in Ballina’s defence. It was Rohan’s huge hit on Ballina’s danger man no.10 that gave 2nd row, Mark Tallon the opportunity to contest for the ball and win a penalty when the isolated player failed to release. The resultant penalty kick by Tumelty brought play to just outside Ballina’s 5 metre line and set up no 8. Liam Winett for a crash try to put Buccs 15-7 ahead but again the conversion this time from John Tumelty didn’t slot over.
Ballina fought back and brought play back into Buccs 22 and when they won a penalty, another knock to Patrick Ryan stalled play for a while as he received treatment for an ankle injury. When play resumed moments later, Buccs had switched off in the centre of the park and Ballina’s big no.10 capitalised with a tap penalty and ran straight through to give himself an easy conversion as he touched down beside the post. With the score 15-14 and over 5 minutes to play a nerve shredding time followed as Ballina desperately went in search of a winning score and Buccs hoped to put the game out of reach. Near the close of the game Ciaran Sugrue saved a near certain try when he courageously slid down on a kick deep into Buccs half and quick support from Cameron Digan gave the rest of the pack time to set up their defence to have the game finish out 15-14 and a massive win for Buccaneers, giving them their ticket to a final against old rivals Corinthians.
Final Score Buccaneers Yellow 15- Ballina 14
Buccaneers Yellow; 1 Carl Doran 2. Patrick Ryan 3. Cathal O’Grady 4. Mark Tallon 5. Keelan Connlley 6. James Finlass 7. Conor Rohan 8. Liam Winnet 9. Shane Coughlan 10. Ciaran Sugrue 11. Cameron Digan 12. Darragh Mulvihill 13. Daniel Ennis 14. Ruairi Smith 15. John Tumelty & Subs- Paddy Toland (for 6), James Downes (for 2), Oisin Rock (for 7).
Sometimes you have to win ugly !
Ballina v Buccaneers Under 14 league
Date January 31st 2015
Score Ballina 10 Buccaneers 15
Wellington boots, coats, hats, scarfs and gloves were the order of the day, and any distant memory you may have held of that holiday on some sunny beech immediately vanished when you stepped out of the car at Ballina rugby club for the Under 14 league encounter between Ballina and Buccaneers.
The Buccaneer Sharks had an edge to them in the warm up and they certainly looked well up for this encounter.
That positive attitude would be needed, the pitch was very heavy and the weather cold, windy and wet, this as you can appreciate did not lead to a flowing game of rugby but there are days when a team must dig deep and win ugly and this was.
Buccaneers started on the front foot with the pack playing well and the big men Ethan Connolly, Evan Gallager, Chas Alozie and Martin Fallon punching holes up front, eventually the ball came out to the backs and they moved it from ball to hand extremely fast allowing Paddy Lynch to go over for an excellent try near the corner flag. The resulting conversion was narrowly missed and the score stood Ballina 0 to Buccaneers 5.
Ballina bounced straight back where Buccs failed to retain possession from the restart, with the ball turned over and immediate pressure put on the visitors try line. They held on valiantly for a period but eventually a gap appeared wide on the left side and Ballina went over for a try on the corner flag. The conversion was missed and the scores stood Ballina 5 to Buccaneers 5.
Just before half time Buccaneers had Jack Martin sin binned for repeated off side offending, and Conor Larkin had to go off with a shoulder injury but the lads from Athlone held out for half time and both teams had a chance to regroup.
The second half opened up with the teams again slogging it out and ownership of the ball turned over on both sides, Ballina had obtained possession from loose ball midway in their half and tried to move the it quickly across the back line but Jack Scouler showed good anticipation and intercepted the pass, running over for a try at the right corner flag. Again the conditions played a part and the conversion was missed leaving the scores Ballina 5 to Buccaneers 10.
Ballina then held a period of domination with a lot of penalties against the lads from The Midlands, in fact the first half count was 9 penalties against us to 1 for Ballina. Part of this was that Buccaneers were defending really well and were anxious to ensure fast line speed giving their opponents no time on the ball but in doing so meant going off side on occasion. The pressure from Ballina eventually told getting a deserved try, again the conversion was missed and the score stood both sides equal.
Buccaneers however were not finished and back they came. Camped on the Ballina try line Jack Scouler came from the rear of the ruck with an old fashioned pick and go, showing good technique he kept low to the ground diving over the try line with two Ballina defenders trying in vain to hold him up. The conversion was missed and the score stood Ballina 10 to Buccaneers 15.
Eventually, the whole game came down to the last 5 minutes, for if Ballina came back and scored Buccs U14’s would have walked away from this mud laden pitch with a draw or conceivably a defeat. However, the mental strength and spirit of these young players shone through, they were not going to allow this to happen and held absolutely firm.
Ballina did put in a huge effort and the last five minutes of the game were played around the Sharks 22. Time and time again the Pirates stood firm and cleared their line to capture a well-deserved victory which was celebrated when the final whistle blew!
The conditions made rugby hard to play and mistakes were made with some bad calls, way-wood kicking and easy turnover. The tackle count however was excellent and the spirit 100% with this team in the making. They just need to string all elements of their game together and the consistency of performance will come for sure, well done to all.
Team: Ethan Connolly, Even Gallagher, Chas Alozie, Martin Fallon, Kevin Horan, Michael Lynch, Shane Greene, Jack Scouler, Leo McFarlane, Darragh Murray, John Why, Conor Larkin, Jack Martin, Evan Slattery, Paddy Lynch
Bench all used: Billy Daulton, Rory Campion, Owen Slevin, Killian O’ Sullivan