Buccs slip up at Ballnahinch

BALLYNAHINCH  11  BUCCANEERS  10 An added time Mark Scott penalty snatched a dramatic single point victory for Ballynahinch when they pipped Buccaneers 11-10 in their AIB League Division 2 game at Ballymacarn Park on Saturday. This was a first visit by the midlanders to the scenic and elevated ground nestling beneath Sliabh Croob in the Co. Down. The neat venue looked impressive on a kind, untypical November afternoon and a decent crowd turned out for this ever meeting of the promoted homesters and relegated Buccs. Buccs were dealt yet another injury blow when Adrian Penzhorn failed a pre-match fitness test and thus Niall O’Hara moved to halfback. The availability of Dan Riordan compensated for the absence of the South African and the Ireland A player slotted in at fullback with Sean Carey switching to wing. Buccs had two changes in their pack, one enforced with last week’s man of the match Colin Waters unavailable. Colm Rigney moved to flanker with fit again Stephen Burke coming in at No. 8 while Adrian Hanley was preferred at wing forward to Brendan Guilfoyle. Ballynahinch also fielded a mainly youthful squad with veteran Kiwi Dan Soper calling the shots at stand-off.     The northerners looked threathening on the counter attack but it was Buccs who generally forced the early pace although Riordan was called on to put in a solid tackle on Stuart Lamb. The visitors really should have opened the scoring after only 8 minutes following a break by Riordan but the attack was always drifting wide too much so that when Tom Gilligan got possession very wide on the right he had no room to manoeuvre and Chris Stevenson and match-winner Scott combined to tackle him into touch right at the goal-line flag. Just as Buccaneers had done with the kick-off, Ballynahinch too made a mess of the restart and the midlanders almost made it pay when Mark Bruce hared off but he lost his footing just at the crucial moment when he looked like unlocking the home defence. Riordan’s hamstring reacted in the opening seconds of the second period and he was replaced by debutant teenager Billy Henshaw with Carey switching to fullback.     Four minutes into the second half, Ballynahinch were penalised for handling but Gaughan missed the kickable penalty and, when Rigney became the second Buccs player to be flagged three minutes later, Scott made no mistake to open the scoring with his placekick after 47 minutes.     The tempo of the game was much livelier since the restart and Buccs were quick to respond with Gaughan making a smashing break which Tom Gilligan carried on before Bruce recyled possession from right to left and Carey raced in for 51st minute try which Gaughan could not convert.    The front row found the going a lot tougher this time and only the honest Burke, TePou and Garreth Halligan made real inroads in the forwards exchanges, where Lamb was best supported by John Gunson and Lewis Johnston. Bruce was again Buccs best back on view with Tom Gilligan growing in stature, while Scott (despite his indifferent place-kicking) and Stewart Megaw impressed for the winners. Buccs, at least, secured a Bonus point but with a little more clinical and focussed application, the players know it really should have been so much more.   Creggs in good win  Connacht junior B league Creggs 19 Our Lady’s Boys Club 5 Creggs defeated Galway city side OLBC in a closely contested junior B league game played on Friday night at The Green. This was an encouraging performance by the home team, and one which augurs well for the season ahead. Creggs dominated the opening exchanges and applied severe pressure but the boys club tackled tenaciously and it proved difficult to break through the defence. Eventually, Fergal Hester got on the end of a strong drive by the Creggs pack to crash over for a try, with Ger Henegan slotting the conversion to give Creggs a 7-0 lead. Boys club responded almost immediately with a superb score by their right-winger following some excellent handling by their three quarters. Shortly before half time, flanker Steve Cranston grabbed a vital try for Creggs when he powered over from close range, after No. 8 Kieran Coyle made the initial break in the midfield. Again Ger Henegan converted to give Creggs a 14-5 halftime lead.  Both teams enjoyed periods of supremacy during the second half, with boys club going all out in search of a try to get back in contention. But Creggs tackled well around the fringes, with the back-row being particularly impressive. With ten minutes remaining, Conor Silke’s opportunist try gave the home side a huge lift and this score really put the contest out of boys club’s reach. The try came in a somewhat bizarre fashion, with Silke showing great pace to win the touchdown following a Henegan penalty which drifted across field and caused confusion in the OLBC defence. This was a satisfactory display by Creggs, and there were lots of promising points to reflect on. Emergency scrum half Alan Ward worked hard throughout, while out-half Ger Henegan produced some fine kicking and also made a couple of searching breaks through the boys’ club defence. Fergal Hester and Paul Mahony tackled hard in midfield, while Kieran Ryan’s tackle count was also very impressive. Up front, Creggs had the upper-hand in the tight five and Barry Kilcommons also made a telling contribution when introduced in the final quarter. Creggs travel to Sligo next weekend for another league game, and all players are required to attend training on Tuesday (8 pm) and Friday (8.30 pm).  Creggs team: Tommy O’Brien, Sean Ryan, Fergal Hester, Paul Mahony, Mike Kearney, Ger Henegan, Alan Ward, Paul McNeill, Peter Comiskey, James Walsh, Pat Coffey, Mark Kelly, Kieran Ryan, Kieran Coyle, Steve Cranston, Barry Kilcommons, John Cahill, Conor Silke, Kieran Osbourne.