CREGGS maintained their inexorable march to the Connacht Junior League title (and a possible double with potential Cup honours) when they defeated Buccaneers Seconds 31-3 in this J1A tie played under the Dubarry Park floodlights on Saturday night.

The more seasoned visitors were worthy winners although the scoreline did not do justice to a young home squad who battled gamely to the bitter end. They paid dearly for some naivety and errors in their play while the league leaders were clinical when opportunities presented themselves.

Andrew Evans opened the scoring with a Buccs penalty before Shane Purcell levelled scores. Evans then missed a penalty from a good position before Creggs scored their first try of the game although Ronan Dowd looked like he dropped the ball before grounding. Buccs suffered a real blow in the final move of the half when they lost possession outside their own 22 and the visitors countered with Mark Purcell finishing off their move with a try wide on the left. Brother Shane converted both touchdowns to give Creggs a 17-3 lead at halftime.

The Pirates were still in the contest and a smashing Harry Balsiger break almost yielded a breakthrough. Shortly afterwards Buccs were awarded a straight-forward penalty just outside the opposition 22 but opted for a scrum. This move almost paid off when good work by the pack gave Eoin O’Reilly the space to angle a kick to the right but it just evaded Balsiger’s run.

They were to rue these missed chances, not helped by substitute Sam O’Sullivan being yellow carded for a high tackle soon after his introduction, when Eoghan Coyle’s mazy run set up a Mark Purcell try which the scorer also converted. Late in the game Buccs bravely but unwisely tried to run the ball from deep inside their own 22 where a pass was intercepted enabling Creggs to secure their fourth try and a bonus point. A no arms tackle by Thomas Fetherston earned the visitors’ winger a trip to the sin bin in the closing moments.
John Why, Evan Gallagher, Brendan Fagan and Balsiger did best for Buccs for whom James Kelly and Ryan O’Meara had earlier also seen action for the Senior team against St. Mary’s College.

BUCCANEERS:- A.Evans; H.Balsiger, R.O’Connor, R.Teape, R.Murphy-Sweeney; J.Why, E.O’Reilly; J.Kelly, E.Gallagher, C.Fokam; J.Scouler, B.Fagan; Cian Daly, M.O’Neill and R.O’Meara. Replacements:- A.M.Abono, S.O’Sullivan, Colin Daly, C.Rooney-Digan and T.McGann.

CREGGS:- R.Dowd; T.Featherston, S.Dowd, K.Gavin, M.Purcell; S.Purcell, E.Coyle; S.Higgins, D.Arnold, E.Cahill; B.Donohue, A.Leech; R.Cahill, C.Purcell and B.Diffley (captain). Replacements:- T.Fleming, L.Kilcoyne, M.Feeley, T.Devine and M.Brandon.

Referee:- Samuel Grando (Connacht).