Despite being without their Connacht contingent, Buccaneers proved much too strong for Sligo when the sides met in the semi-final of the Connacht Senior Cup under the Dubarry Park floodlights on Friday night.
The Athlone club romped to a facile 93-5 victory. Apart from the early minutes, it was all one-way traffic as the Pirates were far stronger, sharper, and swifter than the visitors, reeling in no fewer than 14 tries in a game played in ideal weather and pitch conditions.
Sligo were short some personnel too, but they opened the scoring with an unconverted try by Mike Wells after just two minutes. But that was as good as it got for the north-westerners, who had made life difficult for Buccs when the teams met earlier in the Connacht Senior League, the Midlanders edging a 7-3 win.
Alan Gaughan opened the homesters’ scoring with a penalty before Evan Galvin began the rout with the first of his three tries. Buccs added six more touchdowns to lead 50-5 at halftime and tagged on a further seven tries after the change of ends.
Eoghan O’Reilly, Shane Layden, and Mata Fifita scored two tries apiece, the latter’s second try being a terrific end-to-end solo effort. Alex Hayman completed the try-scoring exploits while Simon Meagher, Eoghan Maher, Ryan O’Meara, and Callum Boland also touched down. Gaughan added 10 conversions.
Buccaneers moved the ball very well from start to finish and were utterly dominant throughout apart from some restarts that need to be improved on. Galvin and Maher stood out in a lively home pack, while O’Reilly and Layden were pick of the backs unit.
For Sligo, who had been building momentum in Division 2C in recent weeks, it proved a chastening experience, but they can learn and bounce back from this setback.
Buccaneers now face Corinthians, who were surprise 46-19 winners over Galwegians, in the final on January 7 in what will surely be a tougher examination for the League champions.