Giving one of their best home displays for many a season, Buccaneers outplayed University College Cork in their Energia All-Ireland League Division 1B game at Dubarry Park on Saturday afternoon.

The Pirates secured another bonus point victory, with the impressive 29-0 scoreline win keeping them at the top of the leaderboard at the end of the opening third of the league.

Buccs made five changes in personnel from their win away to Malone with Matthew Burke, Darragh Murragh, Ciaran Booth and Oisin McCormack returning in the pack where Danny Qualter reverted to lock, while Shane Jennings resumed at fullback. John Murphy and Conor Booth started for College with Louis Bruce switching to centre.

A dull afternoon meant that the floodlights were on from the start, but conditions were otherwise good for both the players and the big crowd. The early exchanges were somewhat tense as both teams realised the importance of the outcome.

The exchanges were fairly even for in the opening exchanges, before Buccs enjoyed a period of pressure, getting ever closer until Frank Hopkins was held up over the visitors’ line on 22 minutes. This pressure was rewarded when West opened the scoring with a 26th minute penalty. A minute later the home side scored an impressive opening try.

Qualter acrobatically caught the restart on the stand side and smart handling saw the ball reach Josh O’Connor on the opposite flank where he off-loaded to Shane Layden who sent West haring away for a slick try that he also converted for a 10-0 lead.

UCC responded with a fine move but Cian Whooley overhit the final pass. McCormack was then sin-binned on the half-hour for a tackle and the Cork side sensed an opportunity to get on the scoreboard. Two penalties were punted to the left corner but College could not penetrate the hard-hitting defensive tackling. Indeed it was Buccaneers who had the final chance of the half but West’s long-range penalty was off-target.

Back to full complement following the change of ends, the Shannonsiders made the perfect start to the second half. Wonderful handling by Saul O’Carroll, Layden and Jennings carved open the College rearguard and this time there was no denying Hopkins who touched down at the uprights. West duly converted and, just two minutes into the half, Buccs were now 17-0 ahead.

Ten minutes later, McCormack got over Stewart Lynch to win a penalty 30 metres out. The ever alert openside flanker promptly tapped and took off, leaving a trail of defenders in his wake to dive over for a smartly taken try at the posts. West’s straight-forward conversion stretched Buccs advantage to 24-0.

Shortly after the hour mark, Shane Delahunt and Sean Masterson launched a counter-attack in midfield with the latter sending O’Connor away along the right flank where his pace and desire proved too much for the UCC cover, the winger getting over for an unconverted try at The Bounty corner.

Spirited UCC then put some good phases together but it was too little too late, being mainly forced crossfield due to aggressive and disciplined defending.

UCC may have gone south with nothing to show for their efforts but the scoreline does not fully reflect their contribution to a keenly contested match.

BUCCANEERS:- S.Jennings; J.O’Connor, S.Layden, S.Mannion, S.O’Carroll; H.West, F.Hopkins; M.Burke, S.Delahunt, M.Staunton (captain); R.Byrne, D.Qualter; D.Murray, O.McCormack and Ciaran Booth. Replacements:- S.Masterson (for Byrne, 45 mins), S.Lombard (for Staunton, 50 mins), W.Reilly (for Hopkins, 57 mins), M.Hanley (for West, 70 mins), O.Burgess (for O’Carroll, 70 mins), M.Staunton (for Burke, 70 mins), R.Byrne (for Murray, 74 mins) and S.O’Connell.

UNIVERSITY COLLEGE CORK:-  J.Murphy; S.Condon, L.Bruce (captain), D.Squires, J.O’Leary; C.Whooley, A.O’Mahony; R.Duggan, S.Buckley, C.Hanlon; A.Brien, M.Bissessar; P.Hyland, Conor Booth and P.McBarron. Replacements:- L.McAuliffe (for Buckley, 23 mins), S.Buckley (for McAuliffe, 34 mins), L.McAuliffe (for Buckley, h/t), S.Lynch (for Duggan, 48 mins), D.O’Halloran (for Bissesar, 50 mins), B.Kiernan (for Murphy, 55 mins), M.Cogan (for Hyland, 64 mins), A.Walsh (for O’Mahony, 64 mins), J.Murphy (for Bruce, 64 mins) and S.Lynch (for Hanlon, 64 mins).

Referee:- Paul Haycock (IRFU).


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