Connacht U17 Cup Final
Buccaneers 27-12 Ballina
Buccaneers had to fight every inch of the way as they won the Connacht U17 Cup following a gripping decider against a dogged Ballina side at the Sportsground on Sunday.
Buccaneers started brilliantly and touched down in the left corner on six minutes as winger Adam Murtaghl raced clear to score in the left corner.
Murtagh himself added the touchline conversion and Buccs led 7-0.
Following that score, Ballina enjoyed the lion’s share of possession in the next 20 minutes as out-half Craig McCormick saw his penalty blown wide by the strong wind.
The pressure finally told on the half hour as Billy McVann touched in the right corner following a rolling maul.
Buccs scored the final points of the half as Murtagh brought his tally to 10 with the game’s first penalty.
Ballina had the aid of the wind in the second half and following a rolling maul, McVann broke clear to sprint 15 metres unopposed to level the scores with McCormick’s conversion giving Ballina the lead for the first time.
As they had to, Buccaneers moved up a gear with Mathias O’Neill working his socks off to get his side back in the game and it was fitting that the flanker was the man to breach the Ballina rearguard.
The try came after a period of sustained pressure as Buccs threw everything at Ballina with O’Neill bursting througha tackle from five yards out to cross with out-half Nathan Horan adding the extras for a 17-12 lead.
It was nearly all one-way traffic from then on as Buccaneers kept their foot to the floor with centre Rory Dempsey darting through a gap in the overstretched Ballina defence and added another try late on.
Buccaneers: Jensen Nagle; Adam Murtagh, Daniel Ennis, Rory Dempsey, Dara Mulvihill; Nathan Horan, Roan Byrne; Cathal O’Grady, Darren Browne, Jack Dempsey; Mark Tallon, Jason Conway; Fergus Galvin, Mathias O’Neill, Conor Clarke.
Replacements: Cian Daly, James Downes, Liam Winnett, Liam Doyle, James Finless, Kevin Maloney, Conor Rohan, Ben Murphy, Aaron Fuchs, Cian McGuinness, Henry Stewart, James Kelly, Joe Burke, Joe Reidy, John Tummelty, Keelan Connolly, Robert Lowe.
Ballina: Bradley Nealon; Eoin Hallinan, Michael Collins, Niall McNulty, Matthew Cribben; Craig McCormick, Daniel Howley; Gerard McKenna, Billy McVann, William Stevens; Conor Boyce, Javier Beldarrain Hergueta, Rian Donellan Hegarty, Sean Treacy, Christopher Healy.
Replacements: Sean Byrne, James Walsh, Sean O’Flaherty Falconer, Derry Quinn, Jake Shakeshaft, Jack Duffy, Oliver Feeeney, Ronan Connolly, Niall Stokes.