On a bright and unseasonably balmy Sunday, Buccaneers made a perfect start to their J.P.Fanagan Leinster League Premier 2 campaign when comprehensively defeating St. Mary’s College 46-20 at Dubarry Park. After a lively and evenly contested opening half, Buccs took over after the change of ends to record a first victory over the Dublin side at this level.

It took some time for the scoreboard to be troubled until Dylan Bolger showed power and determination to touchdown after he tapped a 16th minute 5-metre penalty and Jack Clarke added the conversion. St. Mary’s opened their account with a Matthew Blake penalty and he then converted Tom Keoghan’s 24th minute try which stemmed from a quick raid down their right wing. Five minutes later Buccs were caught napping when the visitors took a quick throw-in and Shane McGrath showed a clean pair of heels to the homesters to scoot in for a try. Blake converted again and St. Mary’s now led 17-7.

Buccs responded positively and Bolger’s radar found Fionn McDonnell at a lineout near The Bounty corner. Buccs pack mauled to the line where Roi Goldin applied the finishing touch for an unconverted 34th minute try. In the final move of the half, Charlie Byrne showed deft footwork not generally associated with front-rowers and, when his grubber kick ahead was mishandled by the visitors flyhalf, the prop followed up to score a try in the same corner with Clarke’s fine conversion giving Buccaneers a 19-17 lead at the interval.

St. Mary’s regained the lead when Blake slotted over a 48th minute penalty but the Athlone crew took over for the remaining half hour, helped by growing indiscipline in the metropolitans’ ranks. A spear-type tackle by Stephen Kennedy earned the visiting wing a trip to the sin-bin. Soon afterwards Buccs opted for a tap and go with a ‘gimme’ penalty and several sallies later Kake Kalani was grounding the ball for a 59th minute bonus point try converted by Andrew Quinn who shortly afterwards added a penalty.

Luca Giles made a terrific 67th minute break that was finished off at the second attempt by debutant Kyle Barrett wide on the left before a sweeping move was finished in style by Quinn on the opposite flank. A high tackle earned Ruadhan Smyth a yellow card before Caleb Smerdon made a splendid break but was held up at the line. However, home pressure yielded a third yellow card for St. Mary’s when Tommy Duignan brought down a Buccs maul with referee Keith Haverty awarding a penalty try to the midlanders.

This was an exhilarating display by the Pirates who got to grips with the challenge of St. Mary’s, who competed in Premier 1 last season, to gain complete control in the second half. In a very good squad effort, Charlie Byrne was the home side’s top operator. McDonnell, Patrick Egan and Goldin were influential in the forwards exchanges while Smerdon, Thomas O’Brien and Clarke were pick of the backs.

BUCCANEERS:- C.Lyons; P.O’Leochain, C.Smerdon, Y.Avrahami, T.O’Brien; J.Clarke, N.Loughnane; C.Byrne, D.Bolger, F.Murray; F.McDonnell (captain), R.Goldin; J.Crampton, P.Egan and R.Byrne. Replacements:- A.Quinn (for O’Leochain, 49 mins), K.Kalani (for Crampton, 56 mins), L.Giles (for Goldin, 65 mins), K.Barrett (for Loughnane, 68 mins), T.McClain (for Byrne, 68 mins) J.Connolly (for Murray, 72 mins) and A.Burke (for Bolger, 73 mins).

ST. MARY’S COLLEGE:- J.Brennan; S.Kennedy, R.Moore, S.Ryan, R.Dillon; M.Blake, S.McGrath; R.Smyth, L.Begley-Taylor, A.Shortie; L.Policky, J.Durkan; T.Keoghan, L.Jennings and L.Faulkner. Replacements:- C.Enright, T.Duignan, J.Lynch, C.Costello, C.de Lacy, G.Mulvihill and J.Kafa.

Referee:- Keith Haverty (Connacht).