MU Barnhall got back to winning ways in the Energia All-Ireland League Division 2A overcoming Buccaneers 23-10 in the rescheduled fixture in Dubarry Park on Friday night.
This was a much more closely contested encounter than the scoreline indicates for a final move of the game try gave the league leaders a flattering winning margin whilst also denying the Pirates a losing bonus point.
Buccs made four changes (three enforced) for this match, three of them in their three-quarters line with injury ruling out hooker Declan Adamson.
The midlanders made a lively start and an early lightening break by Rory O’Connor almost outmanoeuvred the Barnhall defence but led to a penalty on the left which Luke Carty thumped over after four minutes.
However, the light blues responded swiftly and, following a penalty to the right corner and a subsequent series of close-in scrums, William Reilly peeled away for an eighth minute try converted by his half-back partner Adam Chester.
Play continued in end-to-end fashion, Colm Reilly was stopped just short of the visitors’ line. The recycled ball resulted in a high tackle denying Sean Masterson as he attempted to ground the ball.
Following the ensuing penalty, Carty made a snipe before sending Graham Lynch in for an 18th minute smartly-taken try which Carty converted.
While justice was done, it was surprising that neither a penalty try was awarded or yellow card produced for the try-saving high tackle.
Nine minutes later Chester levelled the scores after Buccs were caught offside. Carty then saw a booming on-target penalty kick from the halfway line dip just under the crossbar leaving the teams level at half-time 10-10.
O’Connor, with Eoghan O’Reilly in support, made another typically exciting break just after the change of ends. A 47th minute MU Barnhall lineout went awry close to their line but the ball squirmed from Reilly’s grasp as Buccaneers continued to take the game to the visitors.
As a light drizzle commenced, it remained nip and tuck. The Pirates, despite a period of pressure, could not capitalise on Gareth Murray’s yellow card for a 57th minute tip tackle.
Chester’s 65th minute 40-metre penalty edged the Kildare side back into the lead.
Soon afterward substitute Darragh Murray got a blockdown on an attempted clearance by Chester but the ball spun into touch before Buccs could capitalise.
Matthew Alborough made a terrific break for MU Barnhall as the game continued to ebb and flow before Chester extended the visitors’ lead to 16-10 with a 72nd minute penalty.
Buccaneers then suffered a sucker punch with the clock in the red after MU Barnhall found touch just metres from the home line.
Buccs, inexplicably, opted for a long lineout throw which was overhit and the visitors promptly capitalised with big lock Brendan McSorley powering over for a try and Chester duly added the conversion to complete their 23-10 winning margin.
Buccaneers: E.O’Reilly (R.Enraght-Moony 76), R.O’Connor, D.Corbett, M.Hanley, G.Lynch, L.Carty, C.Reilly, H.O’Reilly, D.Browne (R.Grenham 20 (D.Browne 62)), M.Murphy (S.O’Connell 49 (M.Murphy 64)), E.Galvin (c), R.Byrne, C.Maulaulau (D.Murray 59), O.McCormack (Maulaulau 62 inj), S.Masterson.
MU Barnhall: R.Holt, M.Alborough, E.Quinn, S.Higgins (R.Mullen temp.50/57), C.Lacey, A.Chester, W.Reilly, G.Brooks, C.Duff (G.Murray 45), D.Jennings, C.O’Brien (S.Stokes 45), B.McSorley, D.Murphy, P.Nalty (C.Duff temp.60/67), T.McKeown (c).
Referee: Chris Harrington (IRFU).