Buccaneers retained the Connacht Senior League title with an emphatic 59-5 victory over Galwegians at Dubarry Park on Saturday (September 2 ).
The Pirates devoured the westerners with a nine-try blitz that should put the Athlone side in good stead for their opening round of the Ulster Bank League at home to Lansdowne on Saturday week.
With Buccaneers possibly requiring a bonus-point win to ensure retention of the league crown, they hit the ground running even though playing against a fresh breeze. They opened the scoring with an excellent fourth-minute try, using the full width of the pitch to telling effect, before Alan Gaughan surged in between the uprights for a try which he also converted.
O’Connor demonstrated his pace and nifty footwork after 12 minutes to score the second try. Five minutes later, the homesters turned over ball at their own 22 to send Thomas McGann haring away for try number three, and the bonus point try was secured by the end of the opening quarter. Galwegians were penalised for a block trip deep in the home half and Gaughan found a fine touch on the right. From the resultant lineout, a snappy attack was finished off by Frankie Hopkins. Gaughan converted all four tries to put the Midlanders a massive 28-0 ahead.
Buccs’ next try was set in motion by Farrell and Carty and carried on by Kenny, the impressive prop’s rollicking run proving unstoppable as he scored on 26 minutes. Gaughan duly converted and his only miss followed when Claffey rumbled up the right to power in for a try at The Bounty corner. Buccaneers were simply awesome in this half and they led 40-0 at the interval.
The hosts made a couple of changes at the break, with teenage centre Corey Reid coming in for Gaughan and Conan O’Donnell debuting in the front row for Martin Staunton. Carty switched to flyhalf for the second period and he was swiftly converting O’Connor’s second try, scored just three minutes after the change of ends.
Soon afterwards, Romaine made a splendid break that almost yielded a second McGann try, but thereafter the Pirates’ play became a bit sloppy with focus and application dropping. Galwegians had their best spell and substitute Terry Mboko scored a 55th-minute try with his first bit of possession, but Morgan Codyre was unable to convert from near the right touchline. Home hooker Rory Grenham was yellow-carded on 66 minutes, with visiting flanker Paul Hackett joining him in the sin bin six minutes later as the game became somewhat scrappy.
Buccs regained their momentum in the closing stages. The Athlone side maintained territory and pressure as O’Donnell capped his debut with a 77th-minute try following a five metre scrum, and Carty added a terrific conversion from the left. He then found a superb touch with a penalty to the same corner that led to Buccaneers’ ninth try. Meagher won lineout possession and, although Claffey and Brian Diffley were both held up just short, Buccs had an overlap when McGann popped up on the right flank to secure his second try and complete the 59-5 scoreline with an unconverted try.
This was an encouraging display by the Midlanders, and necessary too as Sligo recorded a bonus-point win over Corinthians to finish runners-up in the league.