- Result: Galwegians U20 22 - Buccaneers 27
- Venue: Sportsground on Sun Apr 6th 2014
- Competition: Connacht U20 Cup
Galwegians and Buccaneers served up a highly entertaining Connacht U-20 Cup final in which the midlanders held on for a hard-fought 27-22 victory at Galway Sportsground on Sunday. A swirling breeze made life difficult for both teams but, otherwise, playing conditions were very good for this exciting decider.
Both sides were missing some key personnel, Ireland U-20 Sean O’Brien an absentee for the Tribesmen while injury also ruled out Ireland U-19 duo Rory Moloney and Saba Meunargia from the Pirates’ ranks as well as Tom Finucane. Wegians, who had seen less action in recent weeks, hit the ground running and dominated the opening quarter. Andrew Butler’s 8th minute try was due reward for their bright start.
Buccs then took a lead they would not relinquish on 21 minutes when they smartly tapped a free and, a couple of passes later, Sam McCormack was charging in for a try which Ben Carty converted. Within a couple of minutes Buccs had Sean Doyle was sin-binned for not releasing in a tackle at midfield. Nevertheless, Buccs grabbed the next score when still down a man. Wegians were caught again with another smartly tapped penalty in midfield and Conor Morrissey scythed through for a 33rd minute try on the right. Carty added a fine conversion and Buccs led 14-5 at halftime, with Wegians unable to add to their early score despite a couple of dangerous breaks by Rory Parata.
Buccaneers dominated the early exchanges after the restart. Morrissey came close to grabbing a second try before Carty stretched the advantage with a good 50th minute penalty. Conor Lowndes replied with a Wegians penalty five minutes later to leave the score 17-8 in favour of the midlanders.
Just before the hour mark of a lively tussle, a spell of steady Buccs pressure was eventually finished off by Josh O’Rourke who grounded for an unconverted try left of the posts. Ten minutes later, Ciaran Gaffney made a smashing break for Wegians but Buccs' Harry Hughes made up tremendous ground to put in a try-saving tackle. It was the Blues who were now in the ascendancy and Buccs were again reduced to 14 men when Ross Enright-Mooney was yellow-carded for holding on to Lowndes. The latter made it count when he stretched over for a second try after a tap and go penalty, adding the conversion to reduce arrears to 22-15 with ten minutes remaining.
However though seemingly under the cosh, Buccs showed strength of character to respond. When Galwegians were penalised on their own scrum near the 22, the alert Ricky Dixon skipped away on the blindside unimpeded for a 74th minute try in the corner. That seemed to be that, but with two minutes remaining, Lowndes finished off a quick counter attack following a scrum to notch his second try, which he also converted to set up a grandstand finish. However it was not to be for Wegians, as Buccs held on to see out an epic contest between two excellent sides who served up a final worthy of the occasion.
GALWEGIANS XV:- A.Butler; A.Byrne, R.Parata, C.Lowndes, D.Duffy; C.Gaffney, P.Power; C..Kyne, P.O’Donnell, K.Kyne; E.O’Brien, C.O’Malley; L.McKnight, P.Hackett and E.Earle.
Subs: D.Byrne (for O’Donnell), C.Gavin (for C.Kyne), N.Hanley (for McKnight), L.McKnight (for Hackett) and P.Hackett (for Hanley).
Referee:- Glen Sheridan (Connacht).