Buccaneers completed this year's Connacht Senior Cup trophy and league double with a 17-10 win over Corinthians in Friday evening's cup decider at Cloonacauneen,
The Athlone outfit were stronger on paper, but Corinthians made them work hard to secure their fifth Connacht double in the history of the competition and their first in a decade.
In testing conditions, Buccaneers lined out with a number of Connacht youngsters, including Stephen McVeigh, Saba Meunargia, Cian Romaine and Rory Moloney in the pack, and Luke Carty, Conor McKeon and Jordan Conroy in the backs, while Corinthians looked to Lise Soloa, Craig Hansberry, Sean Masterson, Pat O’Toole, Stephen Kerins and the Keller brothers Simon and Ross.
The home side were quick off the mark, with Simon Keller potting a straight-forward second minute penalty, but Buccs replied with a try after 15 minutes when Alan Gaughan capitalised on a knock-on near halfway to boot the ball upfield before fending off Kerins to touch down and convert.
Corinthians, however, continued to dominate possession, and were rewarded after 29 minutes when Owen Daly got in for a try. Simon Keller added the touchline to give Corinthians a 10-7 advantage at half time.
Buccs took control after the break, and dominated possession and territory. However a lack of execution and strong defence from Corinthians, including a Conor O’Donovan try-saving interception, left Buccs trailing at the three-quarters stage.
The pressure was eventually rewarded following a powerful scrum when McKeon popped the ball to Romaine and the imposing lock thundered through for a 65th minute try converted by Gaughan. Buccaneers added to their lead 10 minutes later when their pack drove Corinthians back at scrum time and Gaughan duly slotted over the resulting penalty to complete the 17-10 scoreline.
Corinthians created some late opportunities and went tantalisingly close to the Buccs line, but they just could not fashion the try necessary to send the match into extra-time.
BUCCANEERS: L Carty; D Keane, S Layden, M Fifita, J Conroy; A Gaughan, C McKeon; M Staunton, J Sutton, S Meunargia; S Meagher, C Romaine; S McVeigh, R Moloney and K Kiripati (capt ). Replacements: R Byrne (for Meagher, h/t ), S Hastings (for Keane, 59 ), R O’Meara (for Staunton, 62 ), R Grenham (for Sutton, 68 ), F Hopkins (for McKeon 71 mins ) and S Meagher (for McVeigh ).
CORINTHIANS: R Keller; C O’Donovan, D McDermott, C Evans, O Daly; S Keller, S Kerins; C Joyce, D Donnellan (capt ), C Hansberry; S Masterson, J Campbell; P O’Toole, S McCormack, L Soloa. Replacements: S Connolly (for O’Toole 22 ), A Broderick (for Masterson 38, G O’Connor (for Kerins 69 ), D Panther (for Daly 69 ) and T Hogan.
REFEREE: Karol Collins (Connacht ).