Mini rugby is all about fun, participation and inclusion.

This ethos can be seen throughout the province, as 24 Connacht clubs now have their mini rugby season up and running.

Around 3,000 children are taking part in mini rugby in Connacht over the coming weeks, with many U7 & U8s getting their first introduction to the game.

This wouldn’t be possible without the hundreds of volunteers, mini rugby coordinators, and parents who turn up each week and put in the work to ensure there is a place for these kids to play.

One of the clubs where the game is thriving at the moment is An Ghaeltacht Rugbaí.

It coaches rugby entirely through Gaeilge and is proud to be bringing the game to the children of South Connemara.

Brian Daly is one of the co-oridnators of An Ghaeltacht’s mini rugby programme.

Taking place each Saturday morning in Carraroe, Brian is part of a team who welcomes children from all over South Connemara and introduces them to the game of rugby.

Discussing this, he said: “There was around 85 boys and girls at minis this weekend, which is brilliant. An Ghaeltacht has a huge catchment area, with players coming all the way from Furbo to Carna to play rugby and have fun. It’s a serious commitment for the families to go to each week, but they get a lot out of it too, and the kids really love it.

“In the past, we have even had players come over from the Aran Islands to experience the game with us. Once people get involved with the club, they usually stay (as) it is a real family environment.”

Brian was also keen to appreciate the team who introduced rugby to the area, along with those who keep it going. He added: “Cian and Bairbre de Buitléar, along with Micheál Ó Domhnaill set up the club in 2004. Without them it wouldn’t be here.

“There is also a wonderful community of parents and volunteers who give up their time to make it all possible”.

Since the club started in 2004, hundreds of children have gone through their ranks, with some going on to play senior rugby.

For instance, Cian and Bairbre’s sons, Eoin and Colm, have both represented Connacht, with Eoin in South Africa preparing for the side’s upcoming game against The Bulls.

However, as Brian states, minis rugby is about more than preparing children to play at a higher level. It’s about fun, participation and inclusion.

“Rugby minis gives children the chance to try their hand at rugby. But it also brings these families together and creates a lasting a community in the area”, he added.

An Ghaeltacht Rugbaí minis takes place every Saturday at 10am in An Pairc Pobail  in An Cheathrú Rua.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be focussing on other clubs around the province as part of our mini rugby series. 


10 points down with 4 minutes to play, Buccaneers executed a ‘smash and grab’ to snatch Connacht Senior League glory when defeating Sligo 21-19 at well-attended Dubarry Park on Saturday.

The visitors led from the 7th minute until Danny Qualter’s final move of the game try wrestled their dreams of adding to their solitary Senior League title from them in a thrilling climax to an absorbing duel worthy of the occasion.

Buccaneers made three changes from the side whose win at Corinthians ensured that this contest would be a winner takes all affair. Qualter’s availability, in place of Ryan O’Meara whose injury in that win ruled him out, was a big lift to the home pack. Shane Layden returned too in the centre with Eoin O’Reilly starting at scrumhalf. Playing conditions on a warm, bright afternoon were ideal for this much-anticipated joust.

The north-westerners were not phased by the occasion and, with their bigger pack imposing themselves on the proceedings, they worked their way into the home half where Darragh Feehily finished off this fine build-up play for a 7th minute try on the right with Euan Brown adding the conversion.

Ten minutes later it got even better for Sligo, who won this title for the first time just two seasons ago. Not for the first time in the contest, the Pirates had made promising headway but were turned over by aggressive Sligo defending. This forced a hurried Buccs pass which Calum Goddard intercepted and he hared along the stand side and seemed certain to score until Saul O’Carroll somehow made up considerable ground to halt his progress. However, the supporting Brown picked out Daire Byrne with a pinpoint crossfield kick and the outhalf’s conversion of Byrne’s try gave the hoops a 14-0 advantage before the end of the opening quarter.

It looked like getting even worse for the midlanders when Finn Bamber raced through to touchdown on 23 minutes but a touch-judge flagged an off the ball incident and a Buccaneers penalty was the outcome, with Michael Hanley opening the home side’s account with the resultant placekick.

End to end rugby continued to the interval with Hanley slotting over his second penalty with the final kick to reduce the Shannonsiders arrears to 14-6.

Matters became much brighter for the hosts following the change of ends. Sligo’s hooker Shane O’Hehir was sin-binned for cumulative penalties by his side and dissent then brought the resultant penalty ten metres forward with Hanley drilling over the placekick just three minutes into the second period.

Buccs were now making better inroads through their backline and Orrin Burgess made a splendid charge upfield where Bamber was guilty of slowing possession illegally and incurring a yellow card for his efforts. Buccs now with a 2-player advantage camped in the Sligo 22 for a spell but errors hampered their endeavours, letting the visitors off the hook.

It was depleted Sligo who scored next. Brown thumped a long ball downfield to ease the mounting pressure on his side but Burgess was too leisurely clearing his lines. The young back was blocked down and Brown was swiftest to react and notch an opportunist unconverted try. This gave Sligo a 19-9 advantage with the game now in the final quarter.

Both sides were ringing the changes at this stage and the Athlone outfit bench made the difference.

With the stadium clock ticking towards 80 minutes (but several minutes still to be played due to stoppages) Buccaneers won a Sligo lineout throw on the right.

The ball was moved crisply to Layden who charged forward, making big yardage before he sent O’Carroll scampering away for a splendid try on the left. Hanley matched the score with a fine penalty and now the arrears was down to 2 points.

Buccs now threw everything at the north-westerners who were wilting in the face of the sustained defensive work they had put in and the Pirates increased intensity. Composed and tidy interplay by the Athlonians eventually stretched Sligo to breaking point and a smashing pass to the left found Qualter in acres of space and the powerful No.8 romped through for the winning try.

Hanley was unable to add this conversion but it mattered not, as Buccaneers claimed their 13th Senior League title with their stirring climax.

It was tough to take for the visitors who led for so long. However, they can be proud of their contribution to a thrilling decider and if they maintain this form they can anticipate a good season in the AIL. Brown and Kuba Wojtkowicz were their standout contributors.

BUCCANEERS:- R.Fallon; O.Burgess, S.Layden, S.Mannion, S.O’Carroll; M.Hanley, E.O’Reilly; M.Staunton (captain), D.Browne, S.O’Connell; R.Byrne, F.Galvin; C.McCann, G.Daly and D.Qualter. Replacements:- F.McDonnell (for McCann, inj. 27 mins), J.Kelly (for O’Connell, 47 mins), C.Daly (for Browne, 60 mins), T.Shine (for Fallon, 60 mins), A.Flanagan (for O’Reilly, 60 mins) and S.O’Connell (for Staunton, 70 mins).

SLIGO:- E.Gavin; C.Goddard, F.Bamber, D.Byrne, D.Feehily; E.Brown, B.Cunningham; M.Earley, S.O’Hehir, T.Gormley; E.Ryan, C.Trimble; K.Wojtkowicz, J.O’Hehir and J.East (captain). Replacements:- B.West (for T.Gormley, inj. 29 mins), J.Gormley (for Trimble, h/t), M.Rooney (for Goddard, 44 mins), C.Trimble (for J.Gormley, 58 mins), B.Hynes (for S.O’Hehir, 70 mins) and A.Ward (for Cunningham, 70 mins).

Leinster U18 Girls overcame Connacht U18 Girls in a riveting game in Energia Park on Sunday afternoon.  

The home side eventually ran out 15-7 winners after a a tremendous tussle in this Interprovincial Series game. The standard of play had to be witnessed to be fully appreciated as these young women demonstrated skill and fearlessness in equal measure.

Connacht started the game strongly, with tight-head prop Roisin Maher scattering tacklers and wing Emily Foley making a burst up the left in the early stages.

Number eight Karla Tierney was strong in the lineout and flanker Ailish Quinn took the ball up with force as Leinster started slowly.

Connacht were quick to look for and find space on the outside in the early stages, with Mila Sotoparra eating up the metres on the right before the ball came left for Foley to round the cover for a stunning try, converted by Eabha Nic Dhonnacha  in the tenth minute.

A big hit and carry by Hannah Wilson pushed Leinster forward as they looked to bounce back.

However, Beibhinn Gleeson almost added to the Connacht tally soon after, cutting through the middle, with full-back Hannah Clarke then inches away from finding Sotparra with a final pass.

Leinster got their first try in the 26th minute, after Koren Dunne’s activity at the breakdown allowed for Abby Moyles to jink inside and find Emma Brogan with a clever pass for a superb score.

The sides went into the break with Connacht holding a narrow 5-7 lead.

Leinster gained the lead for the first time in the 52nd minute, after some excellent play in midfield gave the field position for Dunne to crash over the line for their second try o f the game.

Connacht battled back, going close via Sotoparra, however Brogan put the game beyond the visitors with here second try coming in the 57th minute to close out the scoring.

Atlantic Technological University (ATU) is a partner with Connacht’s age grade squads.

The Connacht U18 Girls team to face Leinster on Sunday in Energia Park at 3pm has been named. 

The girls in green will be hoping to build on their Interprovincial Series opening day win against Munster.

1 Ella Burns Tuam/Oughterard Dunmore Community School
2 Ellen O’Toole Westport RFC Sancta Maria College
3 Roisin Maher Creggs RFC Convent of Mercy, Roscommon
4 Grainne Hahessy Claremorris Colts Mount Saint Micheal, Claremorris
5 Sarah Mc Cormick Ballina RFC Gortnor Abbey ,Crossmolina
6 Ailish Quinn Ballina RFC St Mary’s Secondary School,Ballina
7 Beibhinn Gleeson Tuam/Oughterard Scoil Bhríde, Mercy Secondary School, Tuam
8 Karly Tierney Tuam/Oughterard Salerno Secondary School, Salthill
9 Grainne Moran Ballina RFC Gortnor Abbey ,Crossmolina
10 Clara Barrett Ballina RFC St Brendan’s Collage, Belmullet
11 Emily Foley Ballina RFC Jesus and Mary Secondary School ,Enniscrone
12 Eabha Nic Dhonncha ( C ) Tuam/Oughterard Scoil Chumsitheach Chiaráin
13 Molly Boote Tuam/Oughterard Clifden Community School
14 Mila Sotoparra Ballina RFC St Josephs, Foxford
15 Hannah Clarke Tuam/Oughterard St Pauls, Oughterard
16 Ella Greene Ballinasloe Ard Mhuire,Ballinasloe
17 Niamh Corless Claremorris Colts Mount Saint Micheal, Claremorris
18 Jemima Adams Verling Creggs RFC Colaiste Mhuire, Ballygar
19 Rhona O’Dea Claremorris Colts Mount Saint Micheal, Claremorris
20 Laura Hastings Tuam/Oughterard Presentation College, Headford
21 Abbie Murray Buccaneers Colaiste Chiarain
22 Sarah Purcell Creggs RFC Convent of Mercy, Roscommon
23 Cavina Maloney Gort RFC St Raphaels, Loughrea




Buccaneers and Sligo square up at Dubarry Park on Saturday with the Bank of Ireland Connacht Senior League title at stake in this winner takes all final round fixture which kicks off at 2.30 p.m.

This comes after the Midland’s Club got the better of Corinthians last weekend via a 10-24 scoreline. Ryan O’Meara got the scoring underway for Buccs after some strong forward play, while Ruaidhri Fallon and Cian McCann also touched down for The Pirates.

Last weekend’s other Connacht Senior League game saw Galwegians finish their campaign with a 20-12 victory over Ballina. An excellent performance from Darragh Kennedy inspired the Galway side.

The full-back put in an immense kicking performance, as well as crossing the line for a try of his own. Karl Waterman also crossed the line via an excellent intercept try, atoning for his earlier yellow card.

The senior women’s season is back, with the Bank of Ireland Invitational Cup getting underway this weekend.

The opening game sees Tuam/Oughterard welcoming OLBC on Saturday evening, while there is more Pool B action on Sunday, as Corinthians host Sligo at 1pm.

There are eight teams taking part in this year’s tournament and a full list of fixtures and pool standings is available here.

Cawley Cup and Curley Cup continue this weekend

In the men’s game, Westport and Monivea will be hoping to put disappointing opening day defeats behind them in the Bank of Ireland Cawley Cup when they face on Saturday.

Connemara and Tuam face off in the other game in Group B on Sunday at 2.30pm.

In the Bank of Ireland Curley Cup, Loughrea take on Carrick On Shannon in Group A, with both sides hoping to build on opening game bonus point victories.

Group B sees Ballinasloe RFC and University of Galway get their seasons underway, with games against Claremorris and Ballina on Sunday.

In Group C, Ballyhaunis face Tuam’s Curley Cup side on Friday evening. Meanwhile in Group D, Galwegians’ Curley Cup side face Corrib RFC on Saturday, while Oughterard host Ballinrobe on Sunday.

Full club fixtures can be found here.

There were two games played in the Bank of Ireland Connacht Senior League last weekend, with Ballina hosting Buccaneers and Galwegians travelling to Sligo.

Up until these fixtures, both Sligo and Galwegians were undefeated in this year’s tournament.

Something had to give, and it was the team from Yeats County who got the better on the day via a scoreline of 16-7. They were worthy of their win, with Shane O’Hehir and Rob Holian both crossing the line for the home side.

The other game saw Buccaneers inspired by a quartet of tries from Saul O’Carroll in their 51-14 victory over Ballina.

In the Bank of Ireland Cawley Cup, Creggs bounced back from an opening day defeat to get the better of Dunmore.

An early red card left the County Galway side with a mountain to climb, and Creggs took full advantage, coming away with the 10-20 win.

There was also action in the Bank of Ireland Curley Cup, with Carrick On Shannon impressing on their way to a 41-17 victory against Sligo 2nd XV, and Loughrea getting the better of OLBC on a scoreline of 26-0.

Claremorris Colts got over the line against Ballina in their Curley Cup game this weekend. That game finished 31-26.

And although Galwegians came out the wrong side of the scoreline in the Connacht Senior League, their Curley Cup side did manage to get the better of Oughterard. That game finished 26-14.

A fantastic attacking display from our U18 Boys saw them defeat Munster on a scoreline of 33-42 in UL on Saturday.

In the second game of the double header, our U19s were defeated in a closely fought encounter, with Munster running out 26-17 victors in the end.

It was an excellent first half from Connacht U18 Boys that sent them on their way to an impressive victory.

The side showed great resolve after conceding a first minute try to touch down over the line four times before the break to lead 12-28 at the interval.

Munster gave it their all in the second half, but we held out as worthy winners.

The second game of the day saw our U19 side run Munster close. It was a game which we were on top for large portions, with a strong first half display seeing us enter the break with a 7-17 lead.

Unfortunately the team in green couldn’t build on that score, as Munster pushed on in the second half to claim a 26-17 victory.

This weekend’s Bank of Ireland Connacht Senior League sees Ballina welcome Buccaneers, while Sligo host Galwegians in a top of the table clash.

Mayo side, Ballina, go into this weekend’s fixture on the back of an opening game defeat against Sligo. Although they lost that game 26-45, they did show plenty of attacking prowess, touching down for four tries.

However, they will also be weary of a Buccaneers side who will be eager to bounce back after losing their first game of the season against Galwegians. The Midlands side led for much of that game against ‘Wegians and looked like they were on their way to victory, only for a late rally from the Galway side pushing them aside.

This game is also a repeat of last year’s Connacht Senior Cup final, which Buccaneers won on a scoreline of 25-5.

In the weekend’s other game, Sligo and Galwegians will both be aiming to add to the two wins they already have on the board.

Sligo were awarded a 20-0 victory over Corinthians on their first outing, while they overcame Ballina in their second game. Meanwhile, Galwegians showed excellent character to leave Athlone with a victory over Buccaneers in their opener, before coming out on top against local rivals, Corinthians, in their second game.

Whoever comes out on top will become the clear leader at the top of this year’s Connacht Senior League.

The Senior League is returning after a week off, in which Bank of Ireland Cawley Cup games were played. There is only one game in that tournament this week, with Dunmore and Creggs both looking to get their first win on the board.

The Association of Referees Connacht Branch (ARCB) held a successful induction day for new referees at The Connacht Hotel on Saturday 27th August. Seven prospective new referees attended the course, hosted by ARCB president Christy O’Sullivan and Referee Development Manager Peter Fitzgibbon.

On the day the attendees discussed a range of topics relating to match officiating, including the role of the touch judge, referee positioning, communication, and match preparation. They also looked at examples of referee decision-making in live situations and were given the opportunity to become the referee, being put ‘on the spot’ in a virtual sense when reviewing match footage.

ARCB are always open to new members. If you are interested in refereeing contact Referee Development Manager, Peter Fitzgibbon.

M – 086 8322987 or [email protected]

The next new referees course will take place in October.


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