BUCCANEERS THIRDS proved much too streetwise for Portumna, a blistering start by the visitors ensuring their passage to the Ard-Na-Cregg Cup final would be a trouble-free experience. Buccs built up a 22-0 advantage in the opening quarter and they advanced on a 47-7 scoreline at a grassy (and difficult to find) Portumna pitch.

The Pirates mentors continue to rotate their crew but the team continues to deliver. David Fagan opened the scoring with an early penalty and then converted tries by the two Declans, Byrne and Brady. Harry Hughes notched the Athlone side’s third try before Rory Grenham and Karl Turley got in on the act. Most of the touchdowns were close to the left corner and it seemed that any time Buccs crossed the halfway line that a try would be the end result.

With the outcome seemingly inevitable from early on, Buccs allowed themselves to be dragged into an arm wrestle. Portumna, although limited, were not found wanting in effort and they enjoyed a lot of territory in the closing stages of the first half. They finally gained reward when John Murphy burst through for a try converted by Ciaran Scully that reduced their halftime arrears to 32-7.

The second half was sloppy and error-ridden. Buccs did not reproduce the flair of their opening salvo and a mainly midfield messy tussle unfolded. The peerless Alex Hayman eventually got the Pirates sailing again with a typical strong burst which he finished off with a try. Then in the final move of the contest Grenham somehow burrowed under a horde of Portumna defenders to complete the scoring with his second try. Buccaneers now face their Galwegians counterparts (who defeated Corrib 22-15 in the other semi-final) in the decider.

BUCCANEERS:- H.Hughes; D.Byrne, J.Downes, A.Hayman, M.Byrne; D.Fagan, G.Fallon; N.Harney, R.Grenham, T.Thompson (captain); A.Hughes, S.Byrne; L.Doyle, D.Brady and G.Halligan. Replacements:- K.Turley (for D.Byrne, inj.), E.Slevin (for Harney), G.Kenny (for Hughes), M.Lyons (for Doyle), D.O’Rourke (for Turley), A.Hughes (for S.Byrne), S.Flynn (for Halligan) and L.Callinan (for Brady).

Referee:- Keith Haverty (Connacht).