Published: Wednesday, 19th October, 2011 5:30pm
Buccaneers 23 UCD 17
LIKE the previous weekend in Ballymena, Buccaneers sowed the seeds for another victory in the All-Ireland League Division 1B with a barnstorming first-half display.
A brace of tries from front-row forward Denis Buckley, along with another for Paul Harte, and a couple of successful kicks for Jack Carty, put Hendre Marnitz's side in a commanding 20-8 lead at the interval at a rain-soaked Dubarry Park last Saturday.
UCD, who came into the game with a win and a defeat under their belts, produced a catalogue of defensive errors in the opening period, which aided Buccaneers' attempts to make it three wins on the trot in Division 1B.
The visitors looked downtrodden and beaten at the break, but they resurrected realistic hopes of a comeback within ten minutes of the restart, largely due to the kicking of substitute James Thornton, who kicked two penalties during this period, and brought the visitors within touching distance of a tiring home side.
With momentum now completely with UCD, another penalty in the 61st minute left home supporters wondering if their side had enough in the tank to get over the finishing line. However, some stern defending in the dying moments, and then a Jack Carty penalty, after titanic work from John Hayes, saw Buccs' reach the final whistle with a six-point advantage.
Following this topsy-turvy performance - which ultimately garnered another the required result, but left plenty for Marnitz and his coaching staff to work on in the coming weeks - Buccaneers moved into a very respectable second place in Division 1B.
In the previous week's 10-16 win at Ballymena, Buccaneers did all their scoring in the first half, and if Carty's late penalty hadn't been converted, they would have racked-up a similar statistic against UCD.
Perhaps such Jekyll and Hyde performances are understandable given the youthful nature of Hendre Marnitz's team, who had to cope without their experienced captain Kolo Kiripati (injured). Conor Finn, who had impressed against Ballymena, was also unavailable, so Denis Buckley and Shane Leyden came into the team.
Buckley's impact was immense, as the Roscommon town native went over for two tries in the first half.
His first try came in the 14th minute, after a tremendous side-step from Jack Carty opened up the visitors' defence, and allowed Buckley to cruise in under the posts. The hugely exciting John O'Brien also deserved credit for instigating the initial attack. Carty, who had already converted a penalty after just three minutes, added the conversion to make it 10-0 for Buccaneers.
Buccs started the game in much brighter fashion, and managed to capitalise on some nervous play in the visitors' backline.
On a difficult day for handling the ball, UCD regularly showed carelessness in possession, and they were somewhat fortunate to break-up the incessant early attacks of Buccaneers to earn a 15th minute penalty, which was sent between the posts by Niall Earls.
But it was only brief respite for UCD, as dreadful defending by substitute Mark McGroarty was pounced upon by the Buccs' attack, and Buckley went over for another try in the corner. Kicking from an extremely acute angle, Carty's resulting conversion was off-target.
David Heffernan, who was awarded the Audi Man of the Match award, was in fine form for Buccs, and was capably assisted by the likes of Daniel Qualter and James Robinson, while Jack Carty's speed of thought and kicking accuracy were very evident, at times.
Despite conceding a clear weight advantage in the pack, Buccaneers didn't allow UCD to control this crucial area, and it was no surprise when the home side again cut through their opponents to land a third try.
Both scrum-half Mark Dolan and Alex Hayman played key roles in the attack, but UCD had several opportunities to clear their lines, and having failed miserably to do so, Paul Harte ended up touching down the loose, bobbling ball to make it 20-3 in Buccaneers' favour. Carty's conversion, again not an easy one, was slightly wayward and wide.
Straight from the restart, the home side suffered a blow as Tom Fletcher was allowed to glide through an exposed Buccaneers' rearguard for a try that never looked likely for UCD. Niall Earls missed the conversion, but maybe a lack of experience was to blame for Buccaneers getting caught cold from the restart following Harte's try.
A lovely kick into the corner by Carty almost got Shane Leyden in for a fourth try, but good covering play by UCD captain Andy Cummiskey averted the danger.
Again, a lack of seasoned know-how was probably to blame when Buccs squandered a penalty chance late in the first half, with the home side opting to go for a quick tap penalty, when really they should have took a deep breath, relaxed, and kicked for goal. It was poor decision-making on the home side's behalf.
UCD also applied some late first half pressure, but Buccaneers held firm for a reasonable 12-point advantage at the break.
Substitute James Thornton's early second-half penalty put UCD back on track, and when Thornton added another penalty in the 50th minute, suddenly the outcome of the match wasn't as straightforward. The visitors' composure, so badly lacking in the first half, had returned, and it was Buccaneers who now looked decidedly unsure.
Another penalty for UCD, converted by Thornton, brought the visitors within three points of their hosts by the 61st minute, and Buccaneers rode their luck, and lived on their nerves, somewhat, before Carty's late penalty gave them breathing space, and another hard-fought win in Division 1B.
Scorers - Buccaneers D Buckley 2 tries; P Harte 1 try; J Carty 2 pens, 1 conv. UCD: J Thornton 3 pens; T Fletcher 1 try, N Earls 1 pen.
Buccaneers: John O'Brien; Shane Leyden, Paul Harte, Alex Hayman, Callum Boland; Jack Carty, Mark Dolan; Denis Buckley, Garreth Halligan, James Robinson; Michael Kearney, Daniel Qualter; David Heffernan, John Hayes, Eoghan Grace. Subs: James Tormey for Kearney (31 mins), Adam Kennedy for Dolan (45), Conor Lavelle for O'Brien (52), Sean Stapleton for Hayes (63), Martin Staunton for Robinson (75), Mark Dolan for Leyden (80).
UCD: Michael Twomey; Sam Coghlan Murray, Andrew Cummiskey, David McSharry; Tom Fletcher; Niall Earls, Rob Shanley; Kieran Moloney, Neil Foley, Brian Hall, Brian Cawley, Mark Flanagan, Keelan McKenna, Danny Kenny, Shane Grannell. Subs: Mark McGroarty for Grannell (11 mins), James Thornton for Moloney (HT), Peter du Toit for Foley and Adam Clarken for Shanley (59).
Referee: Leo Colgan.