It may not be titled the Connacht Senior League this season but champions Sligo made the perfect start to their campaign, overcoming Buccaneers 33-14 in their Energia Community Series opener at Dubarry Park on Saturday.
The north-westerners got a tonic start, the Pirates trying one too many pass in midfield and this was swooped on to send Jack Keegan running through from the 10 metre line for a fourth minute try which Euan Brown converted.
Buccs responded swiftly with a brace of penalties to touch along the right flank. From the second of these, Ruairi Byrne won possession and Darren Browne surged over for a ninth minute try which Luke Carty converted to tie the scores.
Sligo regained the lead seven minutes later following a penalty punted to the Bounty corner. From the lineout, their pack powered over with substitute Matthew Earley (introduced after a mere two minutes) grounding the ball for a try which Brown converted.
On the half-hour mark, Buccs put a tremendous number of phases together from their own five metre line to the opposition’s 22 (by far the best sequence of this encounter) where the ginormous Sligo pack repelled the midlanders, as Sligo led 14-7 at half-time.
Rory O’Connor was decidedly unlucky with an intercept attempt just two minutes after the restart and following a cross-field kick, Brown fastened on to possession and chipped over the cover to notch a 45th minute try to extend Sligo’s lead to 19-7.
The out-half added his second try 11 minutes later following Sligo’s best move of the game, which he duly converted this bonus point touchdown.
Shortly after the second-half water-break, James O’Hehir finished off a maul for Sligo’s fifth try with Brown landing his fourth conversion for a clear cut 33-7 advantage.
Buccaneers continued to battle, Sean O’Connell was unfortunate to have a 65th touchdown disallowed. The young Pirates crew finally got some reward for their enduring efforts with Darragh Corbett finishing off some spirited play for 71st minute try which Carty converted.
This completed the score-line as Ben Daly just could not grasp a final move of the game pass that would have put a fairer reflection on the final margin.
Buccaneers: M.Balaski, R.Murphy-Sweeney (B.Daly 70), D.Corbett, L.Carty, R.O’Connor, M.Hanley, G.Fallon (E.O’Reilly 58), J.Kelly, D.Browne (R.Grenham 66), H.O’Reilly (S.O’Connell 53), R.Byrne, S.Kroupa (K.Kiripati 66), F.Galvin, B.McDonnell, E.Galvin(c) (K.Kiripati 43/48)
Sligo: G.Coghetto, R.Feehily (F.Di Meglio 64), J.Keegan, E.Gavin, H.Gilvarry, E.Brown, B.Cunningham, K.Wojtkowicz, J.O’Hehir (M.Earley 2 (J.O’Hehir 60)), P.Bengalo (M.Earley 64), C.Trimble (M.McMorrow 48 (C.Trimble 60)), A.Cummins (M.McMorrow 66), M.Fifita (C.Nielsen 66), B.West, D.O’Dowd-Hill(c)
Referee: Danny Maguire (Connacht)