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Buccaneers Complete Connacht Double And Advance To Bateman Cup

Buccaneers Complete Connacht Double And Advance To Bateman Cup

Buccaneers will travel to defending champions Cork Constitution in the Ulster Bank Bateman Cup semi-finals on Saturday, January 21 after completing a Connacht Senior League and Cup double last weekend.



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Scorers: Corinthians: Try: Owen Daly; Con: Simon Keller; Pen: Simon Keller
Buccaneers: Tries: Alan Gaughan, Cian Romaine; Cons: Alan Gaughan 2; Pen: Alan Gaughan

HT: Corinthians 10 Buccaneers 7

Buccaneers completed their fifth Connacht Senior League and Cup double when they overcame Corinthians 17-10 in a well-contested Cup final in front of a decent attendance at Corinthian Park in Clounacauneen.

Buccs were the stronger outfit overall but were forced to work hard until the very last moment before being assured of victory in testing conditions. The Pirates, who are currently top of Ulster Bank League Division 1B, seemed to get a bit lost in the fog against dogged opponents and they also looked somewhat ring-rusty following the festive break.

Aided by the light breeze, the Galway side settled quickly to the task on hand, helped by a straightforward second minute penalty stroked over by Simon Keller.

Buccs took a long time to get into anything near their recent stride but grabbed the lead after a quarter of an hour. Alan Gaughan capitalised on a knock-on near halfway to boot the ball up-field and, following his grubber kick ahead, he held off Stephen Kerins to ground the ball for an opportunist try before adding the conversion from right of the posts.

However, the midlanders failed to build on this as Corinthians continued to dominate possession, albeit rarely threatening the Buccs line. But they finally managed to prise the visitors’ defence open on 29 minutes when some sustained play got the ball from right to left where Owen Daly got in for a try. Simon Keller added a splendid conversion from near the touchline to give Corinthians a 10-7 advantage which they held up to half-time.

With the blanket of fog lifting temporarily and the elements now in their favour, Buccs piled forward following the change of ends. They camped in the home 22 for the third quarter but errors and lack of precision and composure, allayed to some staunch Corinthians defending with Conor O’Donovan making one try-saving interception, ensured Buccs made no inroads on the scoreboard.

Rory Moloney knocked on in one promising situation, while fellow Connacht player Conor McKeon surprisingly dropped the ball soon afterwards when a try seemed inevitable.

However, the pressure was eventually rewarded following a powerful scrum by the Pirates when McKeon popped the ball to Cian Romaine and the imposing lock powered his way over for a 65th minute try converted by Gaughan.

Buccaneers added to their slender lead ten minutes later when their pack drove the hosts back at scrum time and Gaughan duly slotted over the resulting penalty to complete the 17-10 scoreline. Corinthians made a few belated sallies into the Shannonsiders’ territory, culminating in a maul that took them tantalisingly close to the Buccs line but they just could not fashion the try necessary to send the match into extra-time.

Overall, it was not one of the Pirates’ better displays of the season with Mata Fifita perhaps their only player to approach his potential against spirited Division 2A opponents who looked the more interested and committed outfit.

Although more powerful and physical, Buccs never really got moving as they can, yet the Athlone standard bearers will not care one whit as they completed a Senior Cup and League double last recorded by the club ten years ago.

Connacht Junior Vice-President Mossy Moran presented the magnificent trophy to victorious captain Kolo Kiripati after the match and Buccaneers move on to face holders Cork Constitution in a mouth-watering Ulster Bank Bateman Cup semi-final at Temple Hill on Saturday, January 21.

CORINTHIANS: Ross Keller; Conor O’Donovan, Dave McDermott, Cathal Evans, Owen Daly; Simon Keller, Stephen Kerins; Colin Joyce, Dylan Donnellan (capt), Craig Hansberry, Sean Masterson, Joe Campbell, Pat O’Toole, Sam McCormack, Lise Soloa.

Replacements used: Sean Connolly for O’Toole (22 mins), Aaron Broderick for Masterson (38), Ger O’Connor for Kerins, Dave Panter for Daly (both 69).

BUCCANEERS: Luke Carty; David Keane, Shane Layden, Mata Fifita, Jordan Conroy; Alan Gaughan, Conor McKeon; Martin Staunton, John Sutton, Saba Meunargia, Simon Meagher, Cian Romaine, Stephen McVeigh, Rory Moloney, Kolo Kiripati (capt).

Replacements used: Ruairi Byrne for Meagher (half-time), Sam Hastings for Keane (59 mins), Ryan O’Meara for Staunton (62), Rory Grenham for Sutton (68), Frankie Hopkins for McKeon (71), Meagher for McVeigh.

Referee: Karol Collins (Connacht)