Despite the absence of some key players Buccaneers proved too strong for Galway Corinthians in the Connacht Senior League, comfortably winning this Round 3 fixture by 24-10 at Corinthian Park, Galway, on Saturday. Ground and weather conditions were near perfect for a contest dominated for large portions by the visitors who may rue not collecting a bonus point victory.

The midlanders had four changes from their clearcut win at Ballina. Danny Qualter and Rory O’Connor were unavailable while injury ruled out another experienced campaigner Shane Layden. Fit again Stephen Mannion returned in the three-quarters line where he was joined by Orrin Burgess and Ross Murphy-Sweeney while Ryan O’Meara started at No.8.

Buccs gained early ascendancy and virtually all the opening half was played in Corinthians territory with a forward pass ruling out Saul O’Carroll adding to his try tally from the previous weekend. A couple of early lineouts went awry too but the third throw near the left corner was spot on and a fine Buccs maul was finished off by O’Meara for a 16th minute try which Michael Hanley converted. Unfortunately injury forced the No.8 off shortly afterwards.

Good chasing by Ruadhri Fallon and O’Carroll earned another lineout in a similar position where Buccs were initially held out but the ball was spun crisply acrossfield where fullback Fallon’s desire got him over the line. Hanley landed a smashing touchline conversion via an upright to this 23rd minute try for a 14-0 lead.

Corinthians first foray into the Pirates 22 proved profitable with an unconverted try on the right that narrowed their half-time arrears to 14-5.

Top gear was rarely threatened in the opening period but, with the elements and a warming sun on their backs, the hosts made a livelier start to the second half with one-time Bucc Josh Rowland’s pace being utilised a bit better. They were now getting ball in behind the Shannonsiders cover but it was Buccs who scored next, Mannion thumping over a 45th minute penalty from halfway.

Corinthians replied with their second unconverted try eight minutes later but any chance of a revival was eroded when Cian McCann thundered through from 15 metres to stretch over the home line for a 64th minute try at the posts. Hanley’s conversion was, surprisingly, the final score for despite a plethora of possession in the home 22 the Pirates lacked precision and could not manage to secure the try that would have earned what may be a vital bonus point.

Overall this was a scrappy affair in which the winners were guilty of handling errors, some poor decision-making and an inconsistent lineout. McCann, Martin Staunton and Fergus Galvin caught the eye in the pack while Mannion, Fallon and Hanley were pick of the Pirates backline. Big improvements will be required in next Saturday’s showdown against leaders Sligo at Dubarry Park.

CORINTHIANS:- J.Rowland; C.Moylan, T.Forde, S.McDonagh, S.Hennessy; D.Joyce, P.Rainsford; P.Fahy, J.Noone, C.FitzHenry; G.Kilkelly, A.O’Loughlin; J.Gannon, E.Coyle and C.Huxford (captain). Replacements:- A.Nash, C.Scanlon, M.Conneely, S.Concannon, J.Claffey, T.O’Malley and E.Flannery.

BUCCANEERS:- R.Fallon; R.Murphy-Sweeney, O.Burgess, S.Mannion, S.O’Carroll; M.Hanley, A.Flanagan; M.Staunton (captain), D.Browne, S.O’Connell; R.Byrne, F.Galvin; C.McCann, G.Daly and R.O’Meara. Replacements:- F.McDonnell (for O’Meara, inj. 19 mins), J.Kelly (for O’Connell, h/t), E.O’Reilly (for Flanagan, 50 mins), C.Daly (for Browne, 50 mins), S.O’Connell (for Staunton, 50 mins), T.Shine (for Burgess, 56 mins), R.Teape (for Mannion, 68 mins), D.Browne (for McCann, 68 mins), M.Staunton (for G.Daly, 68 mins) and A.Evans (for Murphy-Sweeney, 74 mins).

Referee:- Jason Cairns (Connacht).