Buccaneers captured their third Connacht Senior Cup trophy in four seasons in Dubarry Park on Saturday when a penalty from Kieran Joyce with the last kick of the game captured the title for the Athlone side.
Buccs failed to build on a flying start and a gallant Corinthians grew into the contest as the game progressed to take the lead by the minimum at the three-quarters stage; but they were left shattered when Joyce’s penalty with the last kick of the match denied them victory.
Conditions were near perfect on a crisp, dry afternoon at the Athlone ground, which hosted its first-ever provincial Senior Cup final.
The hosts hit the ground running to score two tries in the opening 10 minutes. A quick angled break in the 5th minute by Thomas McGann – starting in place of Rory O’Connor, who failed a pre-match fitness test – looked like securing a splendid try but the winger’s progress was halted just short of the visitors’ line. However, Buccs recycled the ball smartly from left to right where John Sutton scooted in for an unconverted try.
Soon afterwards, Lynch’s promising break lacked swift support but the scrumhalf was on Shane Layden’s shoulder on 10 minutes to notch the homeside’s second unconverted try for a 10-0 lead. The Pirates skipper provided the assist for both touchdowns and his constant striving forward earned him a worthy ‘Audi Athlone Man of the Match’ accolade.
Buccs were the much sharper outfit at this stage but they failed to build on this opening salvo, lacking a clinical edge in a number of promising situations. Then Corinthians twice made intercepts, firstly through the impressive Cathal Evans inside his own 22 when the Midlanders had cover to deal with his break. Next, Craig Hansberry snaffled possession but the prop was never going to romp away from halfway.
Despite the probings and go forward play by Shane Layden and Peter Claffey for Buccs, Corinthians gradually gained belief with their bigger pack troubling the Shannonsiders in the tight.
For more, read this week’s Galway City Tribune.
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