Buccaneers suffer agonising AIL Division 1B Dubarry Park weekend defeat to Naas


Buccaneers captain, Kyle Byrne, receives the Connacht U17 league trophy from Jim Staunton following Buccaneers weekend provincial success

Buccaneers captain, Kyle Byrne, receives the Connacht U17 league trophy from Jim Staunton following Buccaneers weekend provincial success

Buccaneers suffered yet another agonising Energia All-Ireland League defeat when going down narrowly to Naas 21-15 at well attended Dubarry Park on Saturday.

With Stephen Mannion joining fellow key players Danny Qualter and Frank Hopkins on the unavailable list, Buccs made a number of enforced changes for this Division 1B encounter sponsored by Glasson Lakehouse.

Matthew Victory and Sam Illo started in the front row with Josh O’Connor returning on the right wing and Harry West, making his first and possibly only appearance of the season, at fullback instead of his more familiar halfback berth. Naas also made four changes, all confined to their pack with props Conor Doyle and Adam Coyle returning, James O’Loughlin starting at lock and Cillian Dempsey coming into the back row.

Naas had first benefit of the strong breeze and dominated early territory. Following a ninth minute drive to the home line, David Benn could not ground the ball due to the combined efforts of Leo MacFarlane, O’Connor and Cian McCann. Apparently frustrated the Cobras lock punched the grounded McCann on the head. After a lengthy chat to the offender, referee Dermot Blake inexplicably merely sin-binned Benn when it looked a clearcut red card situation.

Three minutes later, Buccs opened the scoring with a superb solo try by O’Connor who scorched from deep in his own half, out-manoeuvring a horde of Naas players en route to touching down. Michael Hanley’s conversion attempt was off-target. At the start of the second quarter, MacFarlane linked with Shane Layden and West to send Mark Earle forward on a promising break but it was Naas who scored next. Conor Doyle finished off good work to touchdown at the posts and Sam Cahill added the straight-forward conversion.

Injury Setbacks

Just before halftime Orrin Burgess made a wonderful break after gathering a wayward Craig Ronaldson kick ahead but the visitors held their line intact to lead 7-5 at the interval. Buccs lost two backs due to injury either side of halftime, Earle being replaced by Tom Shine and Conor O’Shaughnessy coming in for Burgess, who had been prominent in both attack and defence.

In between the Pirates regained the lead through Hanley’s 41st minute penalty but then suffered a further setback when McCann was yellow-carded for not rolling away as Naas enjoyed a foothold inside the home 22. The Cobras promptly added further discomfort to the hosts when Muiris Cleary drove over the line where Ward and Martin Staunton appeared (from this writer’s position right behind the goal ) to have got their arms underneath the ball but the referee from the other side awarded a very debatable try which Cahill converted.

This gave the Co. Kildare club a 14-8 lead on 49 minutes and they notched another converted try in McCann’s absence with Benn powering over on 55 minutes and Cahill adding an excellent conversion from out wide. However, Buccaneers regrouped and applied lots of pressure in the final quarter during which McCann looked certain to score after West’s offload sent him away but Fionn Higgins somehow made up ground to dislodge the ball in the tackle.

O’Shaughnessy then was held up short on the left as Buccs strove manfully to add to their tally. Naas were now coming under increasing pressure and a desperate 72nd minute tackle by Bryan Crowe on Shine saw the Cobras’ captain red-carded. Buccs persistent efforts eventually gained reward when the spirited McCann powered over the Naas line for a 75th minute try which Hanley converted. But, try as they might, the Shannonsiders just could not fashion another score in a thrilling climax as Naas held on to win 21-15.

This was another frustrating outcome for Buccaneers despite salvaging a losing bonus point. Their lineout malfunctioned throughout – and perhaps Fionn McDonnell should have been introduced earlier for his jumping prowess – while knock-ons occurred all too frequently, by both sides admittedly. The visitors certainly enjoyed the rub of the green; their second try was contentious and the fortunate Benn’s try proved the decisive score. A series of penalties conceded by them in the final quarter did not see a yellow card produced, yet McCann was sin-binned much more hastily earlier in the half when Buccs infringed. Similar to last week, officiating inconsistencies are truly frustrating.

BUCCANEERS:- H.West; J.O’Connor, S.Layden (captain ), M.Earle, O.Burgess; M.Hanley, L.MacFarlane; J.Kelly, M.Victory, S.Illo; F.Galvin, R.O’Meara; C.Walsh, G.Daly and C.McCann. Replacements:- C.Ward (for Kelly, 24 mins ), T.Shine (for Earle, inj. 32 mins ), M.Staunton (for Illo, h/t ), J.Kelly (for Ward, h/t ), C.O’Shaughnessy (for Burgess, inj. 43 mins ), O.Dolan (for O’Meara, 57 mins ), S.Illo (for Staunton, 64 mins ), C.Ward (for Kelly, 64 mins ) and F.McDonnell (for Daly, 74 mins ).


Buccaneers U20s are home to Greystones in the J.P. Fanagan Leinster League on Sunday when the action kicks off at 3pm. Buccs will be keen to make home advantage pay as they strive to finish in the top four of the Premier 2 Division.

Buccaneers Seconds complete their Connacht Junior 1B League campaign with a tricky away fixture against Ballyhaunis. Victory, or a result that matches Corinthians game away to Monivea, will ensure the Pirates progress directly to the final. It won’t be plain sailing but Buccs should have enough to prevail.

Buccaneers U16s drew with Creggs in the Connacht League final last Sunday and it is likely that the replay will take place in Ballinasloe on Sunday next. Check the club website for update.


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