BUCCANEERS SECONDS gallant season came to an end when they shipped a heavy 34-5 Bank of Ireland Connacht Junior Cup semi-final defeat at home to Dunmore on Sunday. The more seasoned Co. Galway side possessed too much power and guile for a youthful Pirates crew and they dictated large swathes of this game played on a grey, cool afternoon at Dubarry Park.

Buccs cause was not helped by the absence through injury of Cathal O’Grady and John Why and three first half injuries also damaged their cause. Liam Doyle replaced the absent O’Grady while props Cian Daly and Finian Murray were the other changes in the home side’s pack.
Dunmore were quickly on the offensive and Jamie Coen opened their account with a 7th minute try converted by Conor Burns. A quarter of an hour had passed before Buccs got a foothold in the opposition 22 following a Jensen Nagle touch. When Dunmore cleared that initial attack, Harry Balsiger did well to keep the ball in play before it was moved from right to left and Harry Hughes continued his try-scoring streak with a 16th minute unconverted try near the corner flag.

But this did not spark the home side and, instead, Dunmore went through the phases before Burns finished off their pressure with a 20th minute try which he also converted. Eight minutes later crafty scrumhalf Colin Lyons darted in for a try with Burns again adding the conversion. This gave the westerners a 21-5 lead at halftime.

Any chance of a home revival evaporated within four minutes of the change of ends. Burns landed a long-range penalty and quickly followed that up with an angled run in for a 44th minute try that stretched his side’s advantage to 29-5.

Buccs continued to battle and when they looked like penetrating the opposition defence Jordan Mills intercepted from a clearly offside position that earned the Dunmore centre ten minutes in the sin bin. A lineout throw to the front led to Dunmore’s fifth try that completed their 34-5 winning margin while, in the closing moments, Doyle and Ross Murphy-Sweeney were yellow carded for dissent following a poor decision by the match official.

Dunmore were far more robust and battle-hardened than this developing Buccaneers squad with Burns, Lyons and Ryan Cummins inflicting most of the damage. Buccs could not repeat the heroics of their league triumph the previous week when their primary goal of promotion was achieved. But they now know the strength of the challenges they will face in 1A next season.

BUCCANEERS:- J.Nagle; H.Balsiger, R.Murphy-Sweeney, R.Teape, H.Hughes; G.Fallon, A.Flanagan; C.Daly, C.Morrissey (captain), F.Murray; L.Doyle, S.Fogarty; D.Browne, B.Fagan and L.Balsiger. Replacements:- J.Scouler (for Browne, inj. 24 mins), D.Bolger (for Morrissey, inj. 31), C.Rooney-Digan (for Nagle, inj. 33 mins), C.Brill (for Doyle, h/t), R.Keighrey (for Fagan, 54 mins), A.Abono (for Daly, 58 mins), L.Doyle (for L.Balsiger, 62 mins), S.Flynn (for Murray, 72 mins) and N.Guliashvili.

DUNMORE:- J.Coen; B.Hughes, C.Burns, J.Mills, D.Brady; G.J.Coetzee, C.Lyons; S.Holloway, J.Geraghty, S.O’Toole; R.Cummins, A.Doherty; A.Brummer, D.Slattery and M.Mannion. Replacements:- B.Walsh (for Mannion, 33 mins), A.Glynn (for Holloway, h/t), B.Carr (for Coen, h/t), J.O’Toole (for Brady, h/t), C.Carruthers (for Coetzee, 49 mins), R.Mullin (for O’Toole, 58 mins), J.Huane (for Slattery, 63 mins) and S.Glynn (for Hughes).

Referee:- Jason Cairns (Connacht).