AIL: UCC denied losing bonus point at the death in frantic finish at the Mardyke

Eddie O'Sullivan's Buccaneers maintained their promotion drive from Division 1B with a hard-fought victory
AIL: UCC denied losing bonus point at the death in frantic finish at the Mardyke

UCC coach Michael Bradley with his Buccaneers counterpart Eddie O’Sullivan at the end of the energia All-Ireland League 1B game at the Mardyke. Picture: Martin Walsh.

UCC 10 Buccaneers 19 

A FRANTIC injury-time spell spanning seven minutes at the end of a fiercely competitive energia All-Ireland League Division 1A tie underlined the importance of bonus points at the Mardyke on Saturday.

College went within inches of snatching a dramatic try in the right corner in the penultimate piece of action only for Killian Coghlan to be hauled down by full-back Shane Jennings and deny the Students a losing bonus, which their efforts merited.

Prior to that, Buccaneers sniffed a fourth try in the left corner at the other end and an attacking line-out suggested it was on the cards, but UCC stood defiant and frustrated the promotion challengers by winning a relieving penalty.

There are tight margins all over the league, especially in this section with the Connacht side losing top slot for their inability to travel home with all five points because their rivals City of Armagh managed to do it against Bangor and so return to the summit with just a point separating the pair.

UCC remain eighth in the standings, still four clear of Banbridge though bottom side Malone edged closer with a draw against Old Wesley even if they trail College by nine points with five games remaining.

Elsewhere, Highfield slipped a place to fourth after losing 22-7 away to Old Belvedere, who hit the Cork side for three tries inside the opening quarter-hour and swept 22-0 in front early in the second half before Cian Bohane crossed for a ‘Field try.

Belvedere now occupy third two points ahead of their opponents, who are three better off than Wesley in what’s shaping to be an exciting finish to the regular season.

College fell behind to a seventh-minute break-out try after failing to capitalise on a five-metre line-out as Buccs showcased their potential with a classic counter-attack featuring right wing Josh O’Connor and Jennings for centre Shane Layden to run in for the opening score, converted by Michael Hanley.

Backed by a strengthening wind, UCC enjoyed lots of possession and territory but just couldn’t breach a rock-solid defence, which withstood everything the home side threw at them whether in close or out wide.

Losing Coghlan to a yellow card for a high tackle after 21 minutes didn’t help matters particularly as Buccaneers grabbed a second try just before his return, centre Stephen Mannion sensing the opportunity by joining a driving maul and breaking to cross in the left corner for 12-0.

Finally, UCC registered their first points in almost a game-and-a-half against Eddie O’Sullivan’s charges, Daniel Squires having plenty to spare with a penalty from a central position close to the 10m line approaching stoppage time.

Yet, within three minutes of the resumption, Buccs chalked up their third try, Jennings again displaying his threat with ball in hand, using his pace and power to skip through a gap on the right and with Hanley converting, College now faced a 19-3 deficit playing into the wind.

They responded with great effect, however, captain Louis Bruce taking the aerial route to unlock the defence with a well-judged dink and catch and at last College were in behind with second-row Aidan Brien supporting brilliantly to score near the posts. Squires converted, 19-10 after 50 minutes.

A high tackle on Brien by Oisin McCormack yielded a yellow card, but, surprisingly no penalty on the re-start though College now sensed opportunities, denied by last-ditch defending on the visitors’ line approaching the hour.

Jacon Sheahan (UCC) makes a break against Buccaneers in the Energia All-Ireland League 1B clash at the Mardyke. Picture: Martin Walsh.
Jacon Sheahan (UCC) makes a break against Buccaneers in the Energia All-Ireland League 1B clash at the Mardyke. Picture: Martin Walsh.

Scorers for UCC: Try: A Brien Con: D Squires Pen: D Squires.

Buccaneers: Tries: S Layden, S Mannion, S Jennings Cons: M Hanley (2).

UCC: L Bruce, captain; S Condon, K Coghlan, D Squires, D French; C Whooley, I Rodriguez; R Duggan, S Buckley, D McCarthy; A Brien, M Bissessar; S O’Sullivan, P McBarron, J Sheahan.

Subs: L McAuliffe, C Hanlon, M Cogan, J O’Sullivan, O Young, J Murphy.

BUCCANEERS: S Jennings; J O’Connor, S Layden, S Mannion, S O’Carroll; M Hanley, W Reilly; J Kelly, S Lombard, M Staunton, captain; R Byrne, D Qualter; O McCormack, C Booth, C McCann.

Subs: O Dolan, S O’Connell, F McDonnell, R O’Meara, T Shine, R Murphy-Sweeney.

Referee: G Clancy (IRFU).

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