The home side’s player coach Cathal O’Regan admitted that the economic downturn has impacted on their season but he wasn’t prepared to offer that as the chief excuse for a below par display.
O’Regan said: “We’re struggling like a lot of clubs in terms of emigration and with fellas moving to different places for jobs. This has been a difficult season for us, we’re down about seven players for one reason or another from last season We’ve had a few retirements as well but we’re coping. We have had four wins on the trot (before Saturday), but it is a pity we couldn’t keep it going.
“We were in this position last year too with a more experienced panel, so the positives are that a lot of younger guys are coming in, and they’ll be asked to push the boat out over the next couple of games.”
Bruff’s cause wasn’t helped by a scrum which struggled throughout while they never seriously threatened a Dungannon side coached by former Irish prop Justin Fitzpatrick. The Ulster great wasn’t allowing his charges to get carried away by this result. He reasoned: “We have a game in hand with Galwegians next week; the thing is we can control things ourselves, we came here looking for the four points and we move onto the next project next weekend.”
Fitzpatrick’s side started brightly with a fourth minute try from James McMahon, converted by Michael Lawton. Brian Cahill responded with a penalty before Stephen Foster’s 25th minute try, converted by Cahill, pushed the hosts ahead. But back came Dungannon and McMahon’s unconverted 35th minute try left the visitors 12-10 ahead at the interval. Lawton added a 51st minute penalty to make it 15-10 before Cahill struck twice with penalties to give the home side a 16-15 advantage.
However, Dungannon launched a furious late surge which yielded a fine try from left winger Chris Cochrane that Lawton converted, and the winger finished Bruff off with a 77th minute penalty goal as the home side threw caution to the wind. Rather than grabbing the match-saving score, they needlessly conceded the penalty that cost them a crucial losing bonus point.
O’Regan will demand better from his men in their missions against UCC and Buccaneers: “We weren’t good enough on Saturday. The remaining fixtures are must-win games. On our day we’re capable of beating anyone. A win would have taken a bit of heat off us but pressure is a good thing for this team in a sense.”
BRUFF: B Deady, M Cosgrave, A Cashman, G Leonard, P O’Brien, B Cahill, E Maher, S Foster, J Hogan, C O’Sullivan, M O’Connell, B Morrissey, M Carroll, P Clery, J Shine.
Replacements used: D Horan, A Bourke, B Horan, T Cahill, R Finn.
DUNGANNON: C Gaston, M Lawton, P McKenzie, G Telford, C Cochrane, J Bennett, K Campell, G Sinnamon, A Duhig, M Farquhar, T Smith, M Jenkinson C Threlfall, R Halsall, J McMahon.
Replacements used: A Birch, B Bloomfield, M O’Shea.
Referee: O Hodges (IRFU)