CLONTARF 26 BUCCANEERS 6, Castle Avenue
Scorers: Clontarf: Tries: Bryan Byrne, Michael Noone, Cian O’Donoghue, Matt D’Arcy; Cons: David Joyce 3
Buccaneers: Pens: Luke Carty 2
HT: Clontarf 12 Buccaneers 0
Backs coach James Downey was back in the blue and red of Clontarf as they returned to winning ways in Ulster Bank League Division 1A with a 26-6 bonus point victory at home to Buccaneers.
Hammered 51-17 last week by Garryowen, ‘Tarf called on the 36-year-old Downey, who has dual status as Monkstown player-coach in the Leinster Junior League, to start at centre in his first outing for the Castle Avenue club in 11 years.
The well-travelled Downey, who retired as a professional in May 2016, helped ‘Tarf take a 12-0 lead into the interval. Buccaneers welcomed back Ireland Sevens star Jordan Conroy from injury but prop Conor Kenny was stretchered off in an early setback for Darin Claasen’s side.
Out-halves David Joyce and Luke Carty both missed penalty attempts, with the latter losing his half-back partner Frankie Hopkins to injury, before Clontarf found their form with a two-try salvo just before half-time.
Number 8 Michael Noone powered over for the first try after a series of five-metre scrums. Joyce converted and then Leinster hooker Bryan Byrne, who played for the province last week, added a second try from a well-executed lineout maul.
With winger Conroy’s influence beginning to grow, Buccs had the better of the exchanges early in the second period. The wind-backed Carty went for goal from just inside his own half and nailed the penalty in superb fashion. Following further indiscipline from the ‘Tarf defence, he cut the gap to 12-6 with a routine place-kick.
However, the Pirates, who remain without a win after four rounds, were on the receiving end of a double blow straight from the restart. A strong Byrne carry brought the home side into scoring range and then Matt D’Arcy’s neat pass put Cian O’Donoghue through for a try in the left corner.
Buccs captain Shane Layden was sin-binned in the aftermath of the score and with Joyce adding the extras, ‘Tarf set sail for the finish line. To their credit, the midlanders never allowed their work-rate to drop and the 69th minute sin-binning of ‘Tarf replacement scrum half Hugh O’Sullivan offered them a potential lifeline.
Nonetheless, Clontarf boss Andy Wood reintroduced Andrew Feeney in the absence of O’Sullivan and he combined brilliantly with Downey to set up a D’Arcy try – his fourth of the campaign – under the posts. Joyce converted the bonus point score to round it up to a 20-point winning margin.
CLONTARF: Conor Jennings; Rob McGrath, James Downey, Matt D’Arcy, Cian O’Donoghue; David Joyce, Andrew Feeney; Ivan Soroka, Bryan Byrne, Vakh Abdaladze, Cormac Daly, Ben Reilly (capt), Tony Ryan, Adrian D’Arcy, Michael Noone.
Replacements: Dylan Donnellan, Neil Reilly, Royce Burke-Flynn, Hugh O’Sullivan, James McKeown.
BUCCANEERS: Rory O’Connor; Thomas McGann, Shane Layden (capt), Alan Gaughan, Jordan Conroy; Luke Carty, Frankie Hopkins; Martin Staunton, John Sutton, Conor Kenny, Ruairi Byrne, Cian Romaine, Ronan Farrell, Simon Meagher, Paul Boyle.
Replacements: Rory Grenham, Conan O’Donnell, Evan Galvin, Eoin O’Reilly, Sean Dempsey.