BUCCANEERS made an impressive bonus point winning start to their Connacht Junior 1A League campaign when powered by James Kelly they defeated their Sligo counterparts 40-21 in a high-scoring encounter at Dubarry Park on Sunday.

James Kelly operates in the space between where an immovable object meets an unstoppable force; pressure, intensity and absolute commitment are the hallmarks of this player. Unfortunately for Sligo J1s, the Buccs team that faced them were in a similar mood.

Outhalf Andy Evans, who gave a fine performance through his trusty boot, opened the scoring with a penalty under challenging conditions. Supporters did not have to wait long before the first try of the game was scored by Kelly. Evans converted with ease.

A strong, well organised Sligo responded with consistent pressure that was rewarded with a converted try. Evans stepped up again on the 20-minute mark to make the score 13 – 7. Fifteen minutes later, the score was 16 – 7 following a lung-busting carry by no 12, Robert Teape, which resulted in a penalty. Sligo made significant progress at the end of the first half, taking them to the Buccs try line. However, stiff resistance by Buccs resulted in a Sligo knock-on.

The second half began with the same intensity as the first half, and on six and a half minutes, Kelly came down the tramlines like a train, smashing two defenders before slamming the ball down for Buccs second try. Evans converted from a difficult angle. Sligo responded 10 minutes later with their converted try. However, this was Sligo’s final score as Buccs took over.

At the 20 minute mark, Eoin O’Carroll scored a beautiful kick-chase try on his debut. Buccs manager Paul Byrne began to ring the changes with Ronan Murray and Mark Tallon coming on. Indeed, through these substitutions, Trevor Thompson, Sean Flynn and Niall Harney rolled back the years and made up the front row and gave a fine demonstration to the younger players of how the old boys roll. Brian McDonnell also came on and took the game to another level. Brian scored Buccs final try that was converted. Sligo had the last say of the game with a well-worked try despite valiant Buccs defence.

BUCCANEERS:- E.O’Carroll; D.Mulvihill, A.Evans, R.Teape, H.Balsiger; G.Fallon, Colin Daly (captain); N.Harney, R.Grenham, J.Kelly; K.Connolly, F.Galvin; C.O’Grady, L.Doyle and J.Scouler. Replacements:- T.Thompson, S.Flynn, B.McDonnell, M.Tallon, R.Venter and R.Murray.