Sunday 19 November 2017

NUIG turn on style to claim U-20 honours

Buccaneers 15 - NUIG 35

NUIG Corinthians players celebrate
NUIG Corinthians players celebrate

Michael Silke

A physically stronger and more cohesive NUIG-Corinthians wrested the Connacht U-20 Cup from holders Buccaneers after a lively decider at the Sportsground.

A physically stronger and more cohesive NUIG-Corinthians wrested the Connacht U-20 Cup from holders Buccaneers after a lively decider at the Sportsground.

The Galway combination had more aces in their pack against a willing Pirates crew who battled gamely to the bitter end but were always chasing.

With out-half Graham Lynch and scrum-half Ricky Dixon out through injury, Charlie McMickan was switched to fly-half and Patrick Browne made his first start at No 9.

Lock Conall O'Brien was unavailable with prop Ryan O'Meara moving to the second-row and Cillian Walsh returning to the front-row after illness.


NUIG-Corinthians started brightly and, following a five-metre scrum, the ball was smartly popped to David O'Mahoney for a fifth-minute try and Dwayne Corcoran, operating at stand-off instead of Cathal Evans, added the conversion.

The Buccs scrum was in real bother in the first half and, following a set-piece, NUIG-Corinthians put the ball through hands for Conor O'Sullivan to dot down for a 19th minute try, with Corcoran again adding the conversion to make it 14-0.

Buccs' tackling for both tries lacked the necessary intent but they were finally getting improved possession and territory that earned a 23rd-minute penalty but McMickan's placekick went wide.

Three minutes later, Thomas Finucane then made another typical burst and off-loaded to Sean Doyle but Hughes untypically knocked the full-back's pass on and a real try chance was spurned. But they opened their account with a 28th-minute McMickan penalty to leave it 14-3 at the interval.

Buccs' set-piece troubles continued after the change of ends and they were forced back over their own goal line where they tried to play their way out of danger but Craig Hansberry snaffled possession to swoop for a soft 44th-minute try.

Finucane's strong running was finally rewarded for Buccs on 56 minutes when he finished off his side's best play of the game but that was as good as it got for them.

NUIG Corinthians, through towering locks Thomas Feegan and in particular Peter Claffey lorded the lineouts, and not for the first time they won a Buccs throw to set up Daniel Trayers' 59th-minute try.

Buccaneers continued to battle and Doyle applied the finishing touch for a 59th-minute try but any hopes of a comeback were snuffed out by substitute Evans, who thundered through a trio of tacklers to set up a 73rd-minute try on the left for Roy Stanley.

Corcoran maintained his 100pc success rate with his fifth conversion to round off the victory.

One minute's silence was observed before the match as a mark of respect for Annie Greene-Fox whose three sons played for Athlone RFC, and a grandson Ruairi Greene was a member of the NUIG-Corinthians U-20 squad.

BUCCANEERS - S Doyle; T Finucane, B Gilligan, S Dempsey, H Hughes; C McMickan, P Browne; C Walsh, C McGrath, N Farrelly; R O'Meara, J Foley; R Flanagan, E Galvin (captain), C Morrissey Replacements: B Pears (for Browne, 28), M Burnell (for Farrelly, 41), C Kelly (for Walsh, 60), K Joncker (for Doyle 77).

NUIG-CORINTHIANS - P Griffin; C O'Sullivan, J Murray, P Murphy, J Olsthoorn; D Corcoran, D O'Mahoney (captain); S Faulkner, M O'Connell, C Hansberry; T Feegan, P Claffey; P Ennis, I Kilcoyne and R Stanley. Replacements: D Trayers (for Ennis, inj 6), K Harty (for O'Connell, 16), C Evans (for Murphy, h/t), M O'Connell (for Harty, 60), S Casburn-Trahan (for O'Mahoney, 65), M Donohue (for Feegan, 74), M Conneely.

REF - Daniel Collins (Connacht)

Irish Independent

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