BUCCANEERS THIRDS moved to the top of the Connacht Junior 2A League with a comprehensive 31-14 victory over previous table-toppers Corinthians Thirds at fresh and sunny Dubarry Park on Sunday. This was a must-win game for the home side to ensure their involvement in the deciding stage of this league and the Pirates did not disappoint.

The Athlone side made a start as bright as the day to take early control of the proceedings. A knock-on spoiled a very promising first raid but it did not take long for the midlanders to unlock the visitors’ defence, Darren Costello and David Fagan combining to send Declan Byrne in for a 5th minute unconverted try wide on the right.

Eight minutes later, George Kenny profited from a very neat tap back by Harry Hughes to plunder a try wide on the left with Costello adding a terrific touchline conversion for a 12-0 lead. Buccs went through a series of pick and goes up the centre before this disciplined play was finished off by Martin Lyons for a 23rd minute try with Costello surprisingly missing the straight-forward conversion.

Just after the half-hour mark, James Downes weaved his way through the opposition to touch down between the uprights to secure the bonus point try, Costello’s conversion giving Buccs a 24-0 advantage at the interval.

Some of the sheen of that first half display was missing in the third quarter and Corinthians were rewarded for their improved efforts with a 55th minute try by Lorcan Smith with Conor Allen adding the conversion. Home skipper Trevor Thompson was yellow carded for slowing the ball illegally during this period but Buccs struck next as the contest entered the final quarter. Following a super maul on the right flank, the ball was moved smartly via Gerard Fallon and Alex Hayman to Costello whose turn of pace was rewarded with the try of the match. The fullback duly converted his own touchdown from the left.

Owen Jordan scored a fine solo try for the westerners and Allen duly converted but Corinthians could not get any closer as Buccs replaced them on top of the league table. This was a quite enjoyable affair and a much more preferable duel to watch in the fresh air than seeing Italy inevitably fall short to France. The home backs unit always threatened when in possession especially Costello and young Downes. The pack worked solidly throughout although the lineouts need attention but Keith Grehan, Rory Grenham and Kenny will be pleased with their endeavours. Smith and Matthew Lyons impressed for the Galway club.

BUCCANEERS:- D.Costello; D.Byrne, J.Downes, A.Hayman, H.Hughes; D.Fagan, D.O’Rourke; K.Grehan, R.Grenham, T.Thompson (captain); G.Kenny, L.Callinan; M.Lyons, D.Brady and S.Byrne. Replacements:- A.Hughes (for Lyons, 26 mins), G.Fallon (for Fagan, h/t), G.Halligan (for Kenny, h/t), G.Kenny (for Callinan, 51 mins), N.Harney (for Grehan, 51 mins), S.Flynn (for O’Rourke, 57 mins), K.Grehan (for Kenny, 57 mins), D.O’Rourke (for Flynn, inj. 63 mins), M.Lyons (for O’Rourke, 69 mins), G.Kenny (for Harney, 73 mins) and D.Fagan (for Downes, 73 mins).

CORINTHIANS:- O.Jordan; C.McEvoy, M.Lyons, S.Irendale, A.Bryan; C.Allen, B.Murphy; S.Ward, P.Shaughnessy, F.O’Connell-Hussey; D.Hogan, S.Flaherty; J.West, C.Conway and L.Smith (captain). Replacement:- P.Kelly.

Referee:- Mark Harrigan (Connacht).