BUCCANEERS THIRDS made it a memorable Cup and League double when they defeated Galwegians Thirds 24-5 in the Ard-Na-Cregg Cup decider at Corinthian Park, Galway, on Saturday. This motley Pirates crew did not have it all their own way initially but eventually pulled away from willing opponents to repeat their double feat of a decade ago.

Buccs were under a lot of pressure in the opening quarter when Wegians threw everything at them and Declan Byrne incurred a yellow card after a mere ten minutes. Harry Hughes, who was to be the Athlone side’s Man of the Match, then put in a try-saving tackle that initiated a turning of the tide. Buccaneers finally gained some ground and, following a penalty to touch 25 metres out, the pack mauled all the way to the opposition line where Rory Grenham applied the finishing touch.

Five minutes before half-time, David Fagan pulled a switch move from the back of a close-in scrum and Sean Flynn burst through for a second unconverted try that gave the midlanders a 10-0 advantage at the interval.

Following the change of ends, Galwegians were chasing the game and making unforced errors. Another scrum proved profitable for the Pirates towards the end of the third quarter with Garreth Halligan linking with Dermot O’Rourke to send the scrumhalf over for a try converted by Fagan. 17-0 ahead Buccaneers could now unload their bench.

A further scrum setpiece gave Fagan the opportunity to score Buccaneers fourth try which he also converted. Proud Galwegians battled gamely and applied late pressure that saw two Pirates spend the closing minutes in the sin bin. Wegians capitalised on Buccs being down to 13 players and scored a consolation try in the final move of a keenly-contested decider to leave the score 24-5 in favour of the Shannonsiders. The backline defence in the opening quarter was the turning of the battle in the face of Galwegians best spell of pressure while the pack then took over the reins to dominate the light blues forwards.

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

Photos courtesy Terry O’Neill