Brilliant Buccaneers

GALWEGIANS  8  BUCCANEERS  29 A vastly improved second helf performance by Buccaneers earned them a richly merited 29-8 Connacht Senior League victory over holders Galwegians at Crowley Park, Galway, on Saturday.    Both clubs fielded much changed squads from their previous meeting – a 18-all draw in last season’s AIB League – but the Buccs mentors will be much the happier on the back of this victory and display. The midlanders may have had a huge turnover of players from last season, yet had 8 players from that December match, split 50/50 between backs and forwards. Wegians, meanwhile, did not have such a luxury, starting with a newlook side containing only 2 players who began in that previous tie.   However, at halftime, the home team were in the better mood for they led 8-5 after playing against a fresh breeze and had withstood Buccs pressure for most of the opening period. The visitors had lorded matters territorially and should have taken the lead after a mere three minutes on a generally sunny afternoon. Simon Rolleston got good possession inside the home 22 and he really should have pinned his ears back and strode for the line but instead opted to off-load and his pass lacked the necessary precision, and thus a gilt-edged opportunity was spurned.   Buccs had to wait until the end of the opening quarter before their next chance arrived but Marcus Madden’s penalty attempt also lacked conviction. However, Buccaneers finally forced the score that their play promised when, after James Wilson won good lineout possession following a Buccs penalty to touch, the pack surged forward and Adrian Hanley applied the finishing touch for a 24 th minute try. Madden’s conversion attempt from wide on the left, however, fell short.   The momentum seemed to change in the final minutes of the half when skipper Hanley was very harshly penalised and the home side punted the resultant penalty to touch on the left. From the lineout, possession was moved to Brett Sweeney and the centre burst through for a 38 th minute try which Brian Murphy was unable to convert. However, the home outhalf slotted over a penalty four minutes into added time to edge Galwegians 8-5 ahead at the break.   The Midlanders were back in front when, after their scrum was pulled down, Guilfoyle quickly tapped the penalty and linked up with Garreth Halligan for a smartly taken try which Moloney failed to convert. Moloney’s next placekick effort would have been comical only it was so abysmal, his 53 rd minute kick from right of the posts going into touch on the left close to the home line! Ironically, Buccaneers third try stemmed from this error, when Wegians lineout ball was thrown directly to Hanley who was almost embarrassed to accept such a gift. Moloney atoned for earlier misses with a successful conversion and 17-8 lead. Soon afterwards Benny Gilligan replaced Killian O’Neill before American A international Alipate Tulevuka linked up with fellow centre Sweeney but he was double tagged by Sean Carey and Paul Harte when a  home try seemed certain. James Tormey was then introduced in place of the highly influential Matt Te’pou before Buccs notched their fourth try on the hour mark, the alert Halligan intercepting to scamper in for a try which Moloney converted. Persistent home infringing finally drew the ire of the referee and Ivan Muldoon (74 minutes) and Liam Casserly (77 minutes) were banished to the sin-bin in quick succession. Gavin Kelly and Dominic Griffith both tasted action briefly for the winners for whom the lively Harte completed the scoring with their fifth try in added time for an unexpectedly clearcut 29-8 victory. BUCCANEERS:- S.Carey; N.O’Hara, A.Penzhorn, A.Hayman, P.Harte; S.Rolleston, M.Bruce; M.Diffley, G.Halligan, K.O’Neill;  J.Wilson, M.Te’Pou; A.Hanley (captain), M.Madden and S.Burke. Replacements:- P.Moloney (for Penzhorn, 32 mins), B.Guilfoyle (for Madden, h/t), B.Gilligan (for O’Neill, 55 mins), J.Tormey (for Te’Pou, 59 mins), G.Kelly (for Halligan, 75 mins), D.Griffith (for Bruce, 79 mins) and Adrian Hughes (for Burke). GALWEGIANS:-  D.O’Riordan; B.Lee, B.Sweeney, A.Tuilevuka, J.Wakely; B.Murphy, M.Roche; D.O’Connell, C.Muldoon, J.Stephens; B.McClearn, L.Tonkan; L.Casserly, I.Muldoon and M.Webdale. Replacements:- J.Naughton (for Lee, 32 mins) and R.Shaw (for Roche).  GALWEGIANS  20  BUCCANEERS  8 Galwegians reserves gained some compensation when they defeated their Buccaneers counterparts 20-8 in a lively Connacht Junior League game that followed at Crowley Park on Saturday. Buccs started with just three of the heroes who captured the Connacht Junior Cup a mere three months ago. BUCCANEERS: T.Hynes; K.Kennedy, R.Walshe, Adrian Hughes, D.Reynolds; P.Moloney, D.Griffith; B.Gilligan, N.Harney, M.Blighe; B.McManus, J.Tormey; P.Burke, K.Creavin and B.Guilfoyle. Replacements used:- S.Stapleton (for Guilfoyle, 30 mins), M.Bannon (for Moloney, 30 mins), S.Rourke (for Burke, 44 mins), C.Malone (for Gilligan, 48 mins) and E.Finnegan (for Bannon, 59 mins).   I have now quite figured out the methodology of this season’s Connacht Senior League but, whatever its nuances and quirks, Buccaneers are on the road west again this Saturday with a trip to Corinthian Park, Clounacauneen, for a tilt with Corinthians, scheduled kick-off 3 p.m.   As with last week’s ‘preview’, I don’t know much of Corinthians but they will be in confident mood following their creditable 25-10 victory over Connemara in the opening round at Clifden. They notched four tries on the Atlantic coast through Ferguson, Dolan, Dilleen and Miaard enroute to what looks a decent win.   Buccs too will be buoyed following their away victory and will be looking for further overall improvement as the side jells together. However, Adrian Penzhorn will be an absentee due to the hamstring injury he picked up against Galwegians but that should present Philip Moloney with another chance to stake his claim in the starting XV.    This now looks like being the crunch game in the Senior League and, with so much dependant on it, a battle royale is in prospect. With plenty of individual battles in the Buccs squad for starting berths, the midlanders will hope to edge what should be a lively contest.   An alcohol free youth disco takes place in The Bounty on Wednesday next, September 12 th , to coincide with the Junior Cert results. Tickets are now on sale for this supervised Disco which is being organised in association with the Athlone Drugs Awareness Group and Athlone Gardai.