Buccaneers women finished their maiden season with some serious silverware by way of the Connacht Development Cup.

Tipped up by Sligo in the league, Buccaneers upset the applecart come cup semi-final time and posted two tries to one when the two clashed winnig 12-5. Having removed the heavily-favoured Sligo from the business end of the competition, Buccs began the final as favourites themselves against Carrick-on-Shannon.

Conditions were near perfect at Galway’s Connacht Sportsground, and having met on three prior occasions, Buccaneers’ “favourites” tag was tenuously attached at best.

Carrick drew first blood this season with a 7-nil win in the league, and out-scored Buccaneers by 30 points in each’s respective win over Tuam.

The Cup final was a margin much broader than any which went before, a 32-0 rout which will see Buccaneers’ trophy cabinet swell over the summer months.

Carrick’s Niamh Spellman was the standout for the runners-up, just reward for a plucky performance and solid season.

The distinction between Buccaneers early outings and their season finish may best be measured in leaps-and-bounds. A largely unchanged line-up from that which shut out Sligo the weekend prior, the Dubarry Dames rung in Aoife Ni Corry on the wing for the final.

A breeze gifted Buccaneers a slight advantage in the first half, but they seldom resorted to the boot opting instead to pick-and-go from the breakdown. While it meant Carrick possession came at a premium, it slowed early proceedings and Buccaneers dictated 90percent of the pace. Patience paid dividends when Niamh Ni Dhroma broke from 50m out.

Terrific Carrick defence denied her the try but with such a yardage gain, a try looked inevitable. Rose Hogan for the Athloners made a second foray shortly after and again Carrick held firm.

Carrick-on-Shannon also denied Niamh Gough the first try and it appeared while Carrick’s defence had lapsed well away from their tryline, it was impenetrable when camped upon it. Despite several promising Buccaneers chances, Carrick repelled them all and halfway through the first spell Ni Dhroma posted the first points through a penalty to go three ahead at the 25minute mark.

No sooner had Carrick restarted did Ni Dhroma weave her way through the defence from halfway and added the extras herself to go 10 clear.

Ni Dhroma once again hogged the headlines, scoring a second try and conversion for a 17point personal haul, and added a third before halftime (unconverted) to go 22points up to nil. Fullback Rose Hogan spoilt the Ni Dhroma Show scything through her own backline and the one opposite to post Buccaneers’ fourth try and put the result beyond doubt.

Ni Dhroma featured again, scoring her fourth and Buccaneers’ fifth in the 58th minute. Aoife Kelly and Emma Murphy for Carrick changed gear in the final quarter and made serious inroads through the Buccs defensive line, and Maeve Rowley and Ornaith Grimes went close to scoring but pulled up short unable to breach the Athlone ramparts.

Flanker Yvonne O’Shea lifted the inaugural development cup trophy from Branch President John Carr and commmended her girls on a season-long team effort which took them from the league table middle to the cup competition summit.

Daniel Collins with the whistle put in a typically-admirable performance and allowed the knockout cup final to flow in a final which yielded five tries to treat the Clan crowd.


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