||Last Updated: 2, Apr 2018 - 10:02
CONNAUGHT JUNIOR LEAGUE DIVISION 1|
Castlebar resumed their league campaign after the Christmas break with an outstanding victory over Buccaneers at the weekend. This much anticipated tie between the two table toppers was played in Ballinasloe in front of good support for both sides. It was apparent from the kick off that both teams were in for a punishing physical contest. Buccaneers got off to a dream start with a try in the corner from their No. 8 after 5 minutes. Castlebar however responded well to the early try and spent the majority of the first half in the Buccaneers half of the pitch. In what was an exceptionally fast game the excellent handling skills of both sides where on display for all to see. Castlebar’s strength was the ability of their forwards to link effortlessly with their backs in open play. With 10 minutes played winger Paul Coady slotted over a penalty to bring the scores to 5-3 in favour of the home side.
The scoreline was not to change again until minutes from the half time whistle. Play in the first half was extremely fast with crunching tackles put in by both teams. Castlebar did not enjoy the dominance in the scrums which they have come accustomed to in past matches. Yet the pack of Connor O’Malley, John Foy, Brendan Kelly, Rauiri Hughes, Rob Langan, Ger Prendergast and Gordon McGuinness all contributed enormously to this vital victory. The back row of Langan, Prendergast and McGuinness were impeccable always involved in attack and the backbone of the defence. Scrumhalf Christy Cusack plagued his opposite number throughout the game which spoiled many of Buccaneers chances to attack. Outhalf Jason Keane cleared his lines on numerous occasions with confident kicking, relieving his side of intense pressure. With three minutes remaining in the first half Castlebar went into the lead with another well struck penalty from Coady, bringing the scores to 5-6 and after that Castlebar never looked back. The half was not over yet, from the restart Castlebar collected and launched an awesome attack consisting of some of the finest rugby to be seen in the league to date. The attack which was carried out at an intense pace went through three phases of play in which the ball passed through the hands of the entire Castlebar XV before ending up in the hands of centre John Scott who crossed the line and touched down under the posts with winger Ciaran Berry and full back Marty McNicholas in support. Coady converted to bring his tally to 3 from 3. Halftime saw the score at 5-13 in Castlebar’s favour.
With the sheer intensity and pace of the game beginning to take its toll Castlebar started to introduce fresh legs at half time with Mick Heneghan replacing O’Malley at loose head prop. Just after the start of the second half Simon O’Malley and Paddy Durcan replaced winger Berry and hooker Foy respectively. With Castlebar continuing to attack with the same pace as in the first half cracks began to appear in the Buccaneers side with discipline slipping badly and a large amount of dissent towards the referee. Castlebar were quick to take advantage bringing play deep in to the Bucc’s half. Discipline in the Buccaneers team continued to slip and Castlebar where awarded another penalty which was again converted by Coady, who had an excellent day with his kicking boot. Castlebar where awarded yet another penalty minutes later, once again Coady stepped up and slotted over to complete his tally for the day at an impeccable 5 from 5. Further changes to the Castlebar side saw Damien Glacken replace wing forward Langan and Diarmuid Byrne come on in place of out half Jason Keane. Fresh on the pitch Byrne completed Castlebar’s scoring with a well taken drop goal from the back of his sides scrum to give the visitors a 5-22 lead. The final 20 minutes saw Buccaneers pitch everything at Castlebar in an effort to cross their line. However the defence by the visitors was unbreakable with almost 10 minutes spent right on the line and vicious defence by all 15. Buccaneers did eventually manage to cross the line 5 minutes from time, but it was too little, too late, the conversion brought the scores to 12-22 at full time.
Next weekend sees another much anticipated tie take place in Cloondeash on Sunday, when Castlebar play host to Connemara. Following Castlebar’s unbeaten run in the league to date, winning 6 from 6, good crowds are expected to turn out for what is sure to be another exciting performance from the home side. Kick off at Cloondeash on Sunday is at 2.30 p.m.
Castlebar: C. O’Malley, J. Foy, B. Kelly, R. Hughes, P. Heverin, R. Langan, G. Prendergast, G. McGuinness, C. Cusack, J. Keane, P. Coady, J. Scott, A. Njuru, C. Berry, M. McNicholas. Subs: M. Henneghen for O’Malley, P. Durcan for Foy, S. O’Malley for Berry, D. Glacken for Langan, D. Byrne for Keane.
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