SLIGO 49 BUCCANEERS 17
Sligo took the Bank of Ireland Connacht Senior League title agianst Buccaneers 49-17 in front of a big crowd at Hamilton Park, Strandhill, on Saturday 16th September.
In what was sure to be a thriller of a rematch from last year's Senior League final, the home side were energised and ready to go from the start. Sligo put the first 3 points on the board from a penalty kicked by Euan Brown in the 6th minute. From the restart, Buccaneers earned a penalty which Michael Hanley slotted over to tie the scores 3-3.
In the 23rd minute, Sligo got their first try of the game when Gary Duffy shrugged off Cian McCann’s tackle to score a try in the right corner. Sligo's momentum continued after this, and Martin Earley was driven over for a 30th minute try which Brown converted. Buccaneers responded swiftly with Oisin Dolan’s pass sending Ryan O’Meara thundering forward and his deft offload sent skipper Hopkins in for a 33rd minute try converted by Hanley. Brown then kicked a second penalty and, although Buccaneers finished the half close to the home line, Sligo held an 18-10 advantage at the interval.
Sligo started of the second half strongly and added to their scoreline after 5 minutes when Kuba Wojtkowicz powered over the line for a try. Buccaneers were still in the contest at this stage and they were rewarded with a 50th minute penalty try after Tom Gormley brought down a promising maul close to the home line to make the score 23-17. Finn Bamber went over the line for a 64th minute bonus point try and four minutes later the centre’s mazy run secured Sligo’s fifth try. Sligo, despite having a player in the sin bin, could not be stopped by Buccaneers. They were now in free-flow mood and touchdowns by Ethan Faitaua and Philip Carter took their try tally to seven. Brown added three conversions to stretch their winning margin to 49-17 (just their second time to win the title since their formation in 1890).
SLIGO:- P.Carter; L.McVitty, E.Faitaula, F.Bamber, D.Feehily; E.Brown, B.Cunningham; K.Wojtkowicz, M.Earley (captain), T.Gormley; A.Maclean, G.Duffy; B.West, J.O’Hehir and A.Bamber. Replacements used:- B.Hynes, E.Lang, C.Cummins, M.McMorrow, R.Tiernan, B.Donald, J.Fleming and C.Creaven.
BUCCANEERS:- S.Mannion; C.O’Shaughnessy, S.Layden, M.Earle, H.Balsiger; M.Hanley, F.Hopkins (captain); J.Kelly, O.Dolan, S.O’Connell; F.Galvin, C.McCann; L.Balsiger, C.Walsh and R.O’Meara. Replacements:- R.Murphy-Sweeney, F.McDonnell, D.Bolger, MacFarlane, T.Shine, C.Brill, Cian Daly, Colin Daly.
Referee:- Andrew Fogarty (Connacht).
Photos by Finalwhistle.ie and Michael Silke (Buccaneers RFC)