BUCCANEERS dished out a 60-7 drubbing to Dolphin in their Energia All-Ireland League Division 2A mismatch at Creggs RFC on Saturday. This fixture was switched to the impressive 4G pitch at The Green as Dubarry Park was likely unplayable due to the incessant rain but any thoughts that Dolphin might have entertained about this surface (similar to Musgrave Park) being to their advantage were swiftly dashed by midlanders. The Pirates sunk the Corkonians without trace, a 24 points salvo in the opening quarter swamping Dolphin who simply had no answer to the pace, handling and power of Buccs.

Buccaneers made two changes, both in the pack, from the big win away to Rainey Old Boys. Martin Staunton returned at loosehead prop with Darragh Murray making his first start at lock. Weather conditions apart from a light breeze were relatively benign as Buccs kicked off and the floodgates opened very quickly. Sam Illo imposed himself on the visitors following a lineout on the left and his offload to Will Reilly saw the scrumhalf wrongfoot the cover for a smart finish inside two minutes. Shane Jennings was shunted into touch just short of the Dolphin line soon afterwards and then the midlanders opted for a close-in scrum following a deliberate knock-on. This led to a 6th minute penalty which Michael Hanley slotted over to add to his earlier conversion. Nine minutes later, following a Buccs penalty to the touch on the right, the Pirates pack laid siege to the visitors’ line where Declan Adamson applied the finishing touch.

Almost from the restart, Josh O’Connor and Shane Layden did a neat wrap to make good ground before releasing Staunton and the veteran prop frolicked away like a Spring lamb to notch a third try for the Pirates. Hanley’s conversion gave Buccs a commanding 24-0 lead and Dolphin were already in massive trouble. To their credit they denied Buccs further scores before the interval, Rob Rearden making one crucial intercept to stem the tide while the Shannonsiders were culpable on a number of occasions when other scoring opportunities presented themselves. A knock-on, a forward pass and an offside all spoiled promising try chances in that second quarter.

Buccaneers were able to utilise their bench to good effect in the second half whilst regaining their momentum even though conditions now turned drizzly. A high tackle denied Darren Browne shortly after the change of ends and then Dolphin showed some grit to hold the Pirates out on their line. However, the inevitable bonus point try finally arrived when, after Evan Galvin and Illo had made good yardage, Graham Lynch displayed desire and neat footwork to unlock the Corkonians defence on 47 minutes. Three minutes later a cute diagonal chip over the cover by Reilly was collected by Harry Balsiger who showed calmness beyond his years to mark his AIL debut with a try in the right corner. Following a 55th minute penalty to touch on the left, Buccs put in yet another impressive maul which Browne finished off for a try, the third touchdown in a row scored by a substitute.

The onslaught continued with the Athlone standard bearers making it a half dozen tries just past the hour mark. It followed another penalty to touch, this time to the right where Oisin McCormack won lineout ball. After a couple of flurries towards the visitors’ line, flanker McCormack’s strength and awareness earned him a try that put the Pirates 48-0 ahead. Although outfought and outthought, Dolphin continued to battle and their best spell of territory and possession was rewarded with Scott Rochford’s 67th minute try converted by Daryl Foley that took the bare look off the scoreboard.

But there was to be no respite for the Munster men as Ciaran Booth caught a loose clearance by scrumhalf Foley on the home ten metre line and the No.8 thundered through from 60 metres for the try of the match. Philip Dowling was sin-binned as Dolphin desperately endeavoured to stem the tide. Staunton looked like notching his second try with a spritely break down the stand side and he probably would have scored had he kept steaming on. However, this break led to a close-in penalty for Buccaneers and the Pirates skipper Galvin smart tap outfoxed Dolphin to grab a final minute try. Hanley brought his tally to 17 points with the conversion to complete the 60-7 victory.

The home side had 9 different scorers for their bevy of tries as they totalled 60 points for the second AIL game in succession and now move above Ballymena into third place on the league table. As in Magherafelt, this was an excellent, exciting and enterprising all-round team performance with every player making a valuable contribution. Illo, Galvin, Reilly and Ruaidhri Fallon were all contenders for the AUDI ATHLONE Man of the Match accolade which was deservedly won by the evergreen Staunton. Dolphin have now conceded over 200 points in their four most recent AIL fixtures and are in dire danger of being dragged into the relegation dogfight. Meanwhile the only disappointing note from Buccaneers perspective was the paltry attendance. Even allowing for the adverse weather, the Pirates entertaining and winning brand of rugby warrants better support.

Finally, the club gratefully acknowledges the co-operation of Creggs RFC in hosting this match are their impressive facility at The Green.

BUCCANEERS:- M.Hanley; S.Jennings, S.Layden, S.Mannion, J.O’Connor; R.Fallon, W.Reilly; M.Staunton, D.Adamson, S.Illo; D.Qualter, D.Murray; O.McCormack, E.Galvin (captain) and C.Booth. Replacements:- H.Balsiger (for Jennings, inj. 25 mins), G.Lynch (for O’Connor, 28 mins), D.Browne (for Adamson, h/t), T.Maree (for Murray, 53 mins), S.O’Connell (for Staunton, 53 mins), J.O’Connor (for Reilly, 56 mins), W.Reilly (for Layden, 63 mins) and M.Staunton (for Illo, 65 mins).

DOLPHIN:- R.O’Herlihy; R.Rearden, S.Rochford, S.Scannell, T.Scannell; C.O’Shaughnessy, D.Foley; S.Lynch, C.Scott, D.Jennings; D.O’Mahony, B.O’Mahony; J.Vaughan, K.Allen (captain) and C.O’Herlihy. Replacements:- C.Fitzgerald (for S.Scannell, 24 mins), A.Denby (for C.O’Herlihy, 28 mins), P.Dowling (for Scott, 48 mins), J.Leahy (for Lynch, 48 mins), R.Foley (for R.O’Herlihy, 50 mins), S.Lynch (for Jennings, 61 mins) and C.O’Herlihy (for B.O’Mahony, 70 mins).
Referee:- Sam Holt (IRFU).