A storming second half display helped Buccaneers see off Malone at Naas RFC on Sunday to be crowned All-Ireland Under-19 champions. The Athlone youngsters ran out 27-6 winners of a lively final.
IRFU ALL-IRELAND UNDER-19 CUP FINAL: Sunday, May 1
BUCCANEERS 27 MALONE 6, Forenaughts, Naas RFC
Scorers: Buccaneers: Tries: Conor Fitzgibbon 2, Jack Carty, Robert Henshaw; Cons: Jack Carty 2; Pen: Jack Carty
Malone: Pens: Timothy Durkan 2
In front of a large, vocal crowd, Malone had the assistance of the strong breeze in the opening half and, aided by a Timothy Durkan penalty after just two minutes, settled much quicker.
However, they found the Buccaneers’ defence in resilient and organised form and the midlanders gradually found their rhythm to draw level with a 28th minute penalty from Jack Carty, who has played in the Ulster Bank League this season.
Malone were back in front just five minutes later, out-half Durkan landing a second penalty. But the Buccs pack had now found the measure of the Belfast youngsters and they opted for scrums from two penalties late in the half.
From the second of these, Robert Henshaw made the key yardage and Conor Fitzgibbon was on hand to dot down after Barry Digby was stopped close to the try-line.
Out-half Carty added the conversion with the final kick of the half to edge Buccs into a 10-6 interval lead.
Two minutes into the second half, captain Carty broke from his own 10-metre line leaving a trail of Malone backs flailing in his wake as he scored a stunning try at the posts.
He duly converted and the Athlone outfit, fielding a much more incisive back-line, were now in near total command.
Henshaw finished off further good work by Buccs for their third try ten minutes later, while errors in the Malone defence gifted Fitzgibbon his second and Buccs’ fourth try to complete the scoring in the final quarter.
Centre Henshaw was a member of the Ireland Under-18 Schools team that won the FIRA-AER European Championship title recently, while winger Fitzgibbon has played for the Ireland Under-18 Clubs side this season.
Buccaneers, for whom Ireland Under-20 international Daniel Qualter was outstanding, had too much all round class and pace and although this gallant Malone team battled to the bitter end, Buccs richly deserved this All-Ireland triumph.
BUCCANEERS: C Boland; C Seery, R Henshaw, M Corbett, C Fitzgibbon; J Carty (capt), B Digby; B Teape, C Hanniffy, D Higgins, J Dooley, E Casey, E McBrearty, A Connaughton, D Qualter.
Replacements used: J Donoghue, L McLoughlin, G Carey, A McArdle, C O’Reilly, J Maguire, R Corcoran.
MALONE: P Whelan; K Martin, J Malcolm, J Martin, J McMurtry; T Durkan, B Uprichard; S Magill, A McKenzie, F Wilson, C Davidson, L Creighton, M Dowds, Z Devine, J Ogilby (capt).
Replacements used: T Acheson, J Neill, C McGouran, R Taylor, S Carse, B Wort, D Drysdale.
Referee: Brian McNeice (IRFU)