Final score: Buccaneers 41 – Old Wesley 14 By Michael Silke
Buccaneers secured their opening All-Ireland league victory of the season with a 41-14 win over Old Wesley in Dubarry Park on Saturday.The Shannonsiders hit the ground running, having made four changes from last week’s defeat to Banbridge and opened the scoring after just three minutes.
Carty and Graham Lynch moved swift ball to Darragh Corbett and the winger weaved his way in from some distance for a splendidly worked try. An astute angled kick by John Sutton caused Harte to fumble and Thomas McGann profited from this indecisiveness to prod the ball forward where Simon Meagher steamed on to possession for another quick-fire try.
Carty converted both tries and Buccs had their tails up, leading 14-0 after six minutes.
But errors by Buccaneers helped the visitors settle. Carty failed to make touch from a penalty following a high tackle by Charlie O’Regan on the impressive Corbett.
Instead Rory Stynes returned the ball some distance downfield to touch on the right.
The midlanders knocked on from the resultant lineout and, following the subsequent scrum, Old Wesley moved the ball from right to left where Harte slid over for a 16th minute try which Stynes converted from the touchline.
The metropolitans had the better of the second quarter but found the home defence in defiant mood, tackling tigerishly with good discipline from start to finish.
Old Wesley’s best scoring opportunity came from a diagonal kick but the hop evaded Bill Corrigan wide on the left while an earlier skipped pass by the hosts caused a few hearts to flutter
among the home supporters but resilient Buccaneers led 14-7 at half-time.
Buccs made an even better start to the second half. They turned over a threatening Old Wesley attack inside their own 22 and McGann went raiding down the right flank where he linked up with Lynch.
The fullback coolly chipped his opposite number Stynes and McGann, continuing his run, fastened on to the ball to touchdown on 42 minutes.
Virtually from the restart, Old Wesley were guilty of a chancy skipped pass and Rory O’Connor not for the first time in his career read it perfectly, leaping like a gazelle to intercept on his
own ten metre line before sprinting through to score a bonus point try for Buccs.
Carty duly converted both tries and soon added a brace of penalties to stretch the Athlone side’s advantage to 34-7 after 52 minutes.
The penalty count was now mounting against Old Wesley but it was they who profited from a penalty on the hour mark.
Stynes found touch on the right close to the home line and, from the resultant lineout, the metropolitans mauled their way over for a James Burton try with Stynes adding the extras.
A smart blindside break by Colm Reilly almost provided a swift retort by the Pirates who continued to work feverishly and their endeavours were rewarded with a final move try.
A thumping Conor Kenny tackle turned over possession near the home line and Buccaneers worked their way downfield where patient play following a fine drive was rewarded when Evan Galvin burrowed his way over from match day skipper Sutton’s popped pass for Buccaneers fifth try.
Carty added the conversion to complete Buccaneers 41-14 margin.
Leading by example and regularly charging forward, towering lock Claffey was a worthy winner of the ‘AUDI Athlone Man of the Match’ accolade.
Buccaneers; G.Lynch, T.McGann (D.McMahon 64), R.O’Connor, M.Hanley, D.Corbett, L.Carty, C.Reilly (F.Hopkins 64), M.Staunton, J.Sutton (captain), N.Farrelly (C.Kenny HT), R.Byrne, P.Claffey,
O.Treacy (E.Maher 72), E.Galvin, S.Meagher
Old Wesley; R.Stynes, T.O’Callaghan, B.Corrigan (D.Poff 59), A.Gaughan, P.Harte (captain), T.Kiersey, C.O’Regan, H.Noonan, A.McCrann (C.Telford 43), J.Burton (P.Cullen 61), J.O’Dea, I.McGann, P.Derham, J.Pimm, M.Rowley (D.Phelan 61)