Buccaneers beaten in thriller

With Michael Silke BALLYMENA  37  BUCCANEERS  21 Ballymena defeated Buccaneers 37-21 in a high-scoring and entertaining AIB Cup second round match at Eaton Park, Ballymena, on Saturday. A good start by the Ulster side laid the foundations of a merited victory by the Braidmen but a spirited second half showing by Buccs caused some uneasy moments for home fans in a game contested in brilliant sunshine on a perfect sod. But Buccaneers can take heart that their spirit and commitment never wilted even in adversity. Three of the tries conceded were of their own making and if the midlanders can eliminate needless errors, then they can look to the forthcoming AIB League with growing confidence. They put in a rousing final half-hour when their bench made key contributions especially Madden and Gavin Kelly. TePou and Diffley had been very prominent prior to their nasty injuries.   TUAM  0  BUCCANEERS  71 Buccaneers  U-20’s enjoyed another facile victory when they were far too strong all round for Tuam, winning Sunday’s friendly 71-0 at the Co. Galway ground.  Buccs forwards were rampant against a limited home side that battled gamely to stem the tide, and the midlanders tallied a hefty eleven tries. Buccs half-backs Simon Moorehead and Conor Murtagh comfortably controlled the game with fly-half Moorehead contributing 2 tries, 2 penalties and 5 conversions. Brendan McManus helped himself to a hat-trick of tries while Sean Stapleton pilfered a brace of tries. Tries by Murtagh, Kevin Creaven, Dan Reynolds and Liam Connor completed the haul. Skipper McManus and his second row partner Padraig Burke lorded matters in the pack where Reynolds and Alan Hughes enjoyed good outings. Buccaneers Reserves get their competitive season under way in earnest on Sunday when Castlebar are visitors to Dubarry Park for the opening round of the Connacht Junior League. This is a tricky assignment but Buccs will be optimistic that home advantage will give them a match-winning edge. Adrian Hughes is again skippering this Buccaneers squad and he will be hoping that, if they repeat the form and commitment that earned them Junior Cup success last term, then a new look Buccs can have a real go at league honours. However, a good start is crucial and Buccs will be looking to Adrian’s brother Anthony, Benny Gilligan, Marcus Madden, James Tormey and Declan Ryan to make an impact in the forwards battle. Michael Blighe, Eddie Brady, Stephen O’Rourke, Kieran Coughlan and Colin Waters are others who can turn games in this sector.  Tom Gilligan, Jamie Geraghty, James O’Connell, Paul Hanniffy and Mel McGerr look like being the key backs along with Dominick Griffiths in a game that is scheduled to start at 3 p.m. Members, players, ‘pirates’ and supporters are reminded that this season’s launch of Oyster homes sponsorship of Buccaneers takes place in the four-star Athlone Springs Hotel on this Thursday, October 18th at 8.30 p.m. Light refreshments will be served and a decent turnout is anticipated.