Buccaneers suffer an opening day Connacht Senior League Sligo defeat


Live club rugby resumed last weekend following a year long break due to the Covid-19 virus, the pandemic which frustrated Sligo’s bid last season to retain their Connacht Senior League title.

But the north-westerners proved that they will be the team to beat again this season when they scored a 43-10 victory over Buccaneers, their predecessors as champions.

The visitors began promisingly at Hamilton Park, Strandhill, on Saturday but Sligo gradually imposed themselves on the proceedings to earn a bonus point win.

The Pirates fielded an extremely youthful squad with only Martin Staunton and skipper Evan Galvin raising the age profile. They opened the scoring with a 2nd minute Michael Hanley penalty and fared reasonably well in the first quarter. Buccs opted for a punt to the left corner with a second penalty but Sligo withstood the early burst and then a fine Brendan Cunningham break set up their opening try by Matthew Earley on 23 minutes. Just before the interval they notched a second try when play was moved smartly from left to right where Philip Carter touched down. Euan Brown’s conversion gave the homesters a 12-3 lead at the break.

The impressive outhalf landed a 53rd minute penalty before Sligo’s experience and significant bulk advantages impacted and they added four tries in the closing stages against outpowered opponents. They stretched their advantage with a 56th minute Jack Keegan try to which Buccs responded with a smartly taken Tom Shine try two minutes later. Hanley’s conversion left his side trailing 22-10.

Earley nabbed his second try before Guilherme Coghetto notched a brace in the closing moments. The impressive Brown converted all four second half tries to complete the 43-10 scoreline. Size mattered in this contest and Sligo, who were ponderously slow yet effective at setpieces, were also helped by missed tackles and poor decisions by their willing but less battle-hardened opponents.

The Galvin brothers, Cian McCann and Darren Browne fought hard in the forwards trenches while Saul O’Carroll and Shine looked best of the backs.

BUCCANEERS:- A.Evans; R.Murphy-Sweeney, S.O’Carroll, T.Shine, M.McHale; M.Hanley, A.Flanagan; J.Kelly, D.Browne, M.Staunton; S.Kroupa, F.Galvin; C.McCann, K.Kiripati and E.Galvin (captain ). Replacements:- S.O’Connell (for Kelly, 54 mins ), L.Doyle (for Kiripati, 54 mins ), G.Fallon (for Flanagan, 56 mins ), R.Murray (for Kroupa, 60 mins ) and T.McGann (for McHale, 60 mins ).

Buccaneers home to Ballina

Buccaneers face Ballina in the second round of the Connacht Senior League when the teams square off at Dubarry Park on Saturday, kick off 2.30pm.

Buccs lost heavily to Sligo in last season’s opener (one of just two matches completed pre-pandemic lockdown ) but they recovered to win at Ballina. Maybe they can repeat that feat next weekend but the Pirates will need some sizing up in their crew and also much needed experience. Quite a number of the more senior players were unavailable for a variety of reasons against Sligo and hopefully some will be in the squad for the visit of Ballina.

Juniors host Monivea

Buccaneers J1A side’s Cawley Cup Pool One fixture has, at time of writing, been rescheduled for this Friday night under the Dubarry Park floodlights. This will test Buccaneers playing resources at this early stage of the season as the visitors are one of Connacht’s stronger junior outfits.

50/50 Draw

JIM KEANE’S name was drawn from the drum in this week’s Buccaneers RFC 50/50 Draw and he wins €152.

Best wishes

Congratulations to Ivana Kiripati and Eloise Clarke who have been named in the Connacht Girls U18 squad and good luck to them in the interpros.

Well done to Athlone Boat Club rowers Donagh Claffey and Martin O’Grady who represented Ireland in the Junior World Rowing championships in Bulgaria. Donagh, who plays with Buccaneers U18.5 team, and Martin, who featured in our U16’s squad, did themselves proud in the final.

Tough luck for another young Buccs duo Ben O’Carroll and Ruadhri Fallon who gave of their best for Roscommon U-20s in the All-Ireland final where not taking goal chances proved costly for the Rossies.


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