Buccaneers are the 2022 Bank of Ireland Senior Cup champions after a convincing 25-5 victory over Ballina.

Despite a spirited effort from the Mayo men, the cup is heading to Athlone, as Buccaneers had too much for them to handle all afternoon.

The scoring started early on, as Buccaneers got their first try in just the third minute. Tabo Maree cleverly offloaded to Rory O’Connor, who dinked over the onrushing Ballina defence and sprinted into the open space in front of him to touch down. Michael Hanley, one of Buccaneers kickers on the day, landed the conversion from the right with ease to put the Bucs seven points to the good.

Seven minutes later, and they went over again. Shane Layden picked the ball up on the right and sprinted his way towards the far left corner, shaking off three Ballina men as he went over. Hanley was unfortunate not to make the conversion this time around.

Ballina did not let the early setbacks deter them, and got a try of their own on 15 minutes. Some clever passing inside the Buccaneers 22 meant the ball came into the hands of Darragh Whyte, and he danced through the Buccaneers defence to get Ballina’s only score. Harry West skewed his conversion wide beyond the posts to leave the scores at 12-5 in favour of Buccaneers.

Unfortunately, that was as good as it got from Ballina, as Buccaneers dug in well to prevent them landing any more scores before the break. One of the game’s crucial moments came on the stroke of half time, as referee Jason Cairns reversed a penalty for Ballina, as Thomas Hannigan was adjudged to have pushed Buccaneers’ Cian McCann. Hanley duly slotted the penalty over from just in front of the posts. The decision came as a blow to Ballina, as they had defended resolutely in the phases beforehand, and found themselves trailing by ten points at half-time.

This was enough for Buccaneers to keep Ballina at arms length for the rest of the match, and a penalty from Stephen Mannion on 61 minutes extended their lead to 18-5.

The final nail in Ballina’s coffin came in the 66th minute, as McCann managed to exploit a gap that opened up in front of him to cruise over the try line. Hanley returned to the kicking tee to nail the conversion and open up a 20 point gap, and ensure Buccaneer’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations got off to a winning start, as they were crowned Senior Cup champions once again.

Buccaneers:
15. Ruaidhri Fallon
14. Saul O’Carroll
13. Shane Layden
12. Stephen Mannion
11. Rory O’Connor
10. Michael Hanley
9. Frank Hopkins

8. Tabo Maree
7. Evan Galvin (C)
6. Cian McCann
5. Danny Qualter
4. Ruairi Byrne
3. Martin Staunton
2. Darren Browne
1. James Kelly

Replacements:
16. Rory Grenham
17. Ryan O’Meara
18. Fergus Galvin
19. Eoin O’Reilly
20. Ross Murphy-Sweeney

Ballina:
15. Darragh White
14. Ian West
13. Callum Quinn
12. Alex Corduff
11. Cian Quinn
10. Harry West
9. Mickey Murphy

8. Dan Molloy
7. Luke Sweeney (C)
6. Fergal Tully
5. Thomas Hannigan
4. Andrew West
3. Shane Clarke
2. Mark Walker
1. Conor Mason

Replacements:
16. Billy McVann
17. Evan Creavan
18. Marc Feeley
19. Niall Keane
20. Liam Golden

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