CORINTHIANS produced a Halloween shocker for Buccaneers when the Galway side was deserving14-10 winners in their floodlit Ulster Bank League Division 1B encounter at well-attended Dubarry Park, Athlone, on Friday night. The visitors may not have been spellbinding but they were far more committed and cohesive than a home outfit that did not possess the spark to ignite fireworks in the Pirates’ ranks on a mild, misty evening.  


Both teams made numerous changes with Corinthians, missing injured skipper James Buckley and prop Finlay Bealham, having six fresh personnel from their big home loss to Shannon. Buccs had no less than eight changes from the last gasp home defeat by Galwegians. They welcomed back captain Alex Hayman and Conor Finn in the centre and included young Connacht trio Danny Qualter, Stephen McVeigh and Rory Moloney at 5, 6 and 7 respectively. On paper, the midlanders looked the more formidable outfit but Corinthians, arguably in more urgent need of league points, refused to read the script in this Ganlys of Athlone sponsored match.   

Corinthians set the tempo from the very start, with the endeavour particularly of their pack penning Buccs back for long periods of a stop/start affair. Dwayne Corcoran was short with a kickable fourth minute penalty as the hosts conceded four penalties in the early minutes. Seven minutes later, Corinthians punted a very straight-forward penalty to touch on the left where their throw-in went awry. After 18 minutes, Ultan Dillane rumbled through the home midfield far too easily but, with Buccaneers really stretched, Eoghan Masterson held on too long and knocked on in the tackle as he attempted to offload to a two-man overlap.  

It was virtually all one way traffic as this stage with perhaps Corinthians beginning to wonder would they later rue not converting those decent scoring chances. Buccs first foray of any real intent did not arrive until 24 minutes with Mark Dolan making a nippy break and delivering a sublime offload to Diarmuid Higgins. This attack was only stopped by a Conor Murphy knock-on that referee Barrie O’Connell deemed worthy of a yellow card. Alan Gaughan did not allow for the breeze coming around the end of the stand and his resulting penalty kick tailed just wide of the far upright.

Corinthians had another let off five minutes later when Eoghan O’Reilly made a sizzling break to link up with Finn and a try looked the likely outcome. This time the referee drew the ire of the home supporters when whistling for crossing that was not apparent to the crowd. The westerners survived their first yellow card intact but not the second when Mark Byrne was binned just before the break. Gaughan tapped over the placekick to put Buccs 3-0 ahead despite playing poorly.

The Pirates were livelier on the resumption and O’Reilly made another smashing snipe but, overall, they continued to make too many errors. Corinthians were finally rewarded for their enterprise when, after a fine David Panther break, they got close to the home line where Masterson drove over for a 49th minute try which Conor Murphy converted. Further sustained endeavour by Corinthians quickly yielded a second try five minutes later with Pat O’Toole getting over on the right. Conor Murphy curled his conversion in for a 14-3 advantage for the visitors.

Buccs could have scored a try within a minute when a Corinthians lineout missed its target but the ball squirmed forward from Higgins’ grasp. On the hour mark, that elusive home try looked highly likely when the Pirates piled on sustained close-in pressure on the left. With the resolute Corinthians’ defence sucked in, the ball was flashed to the right but the final pass to winger O’Reilly was woeful and a gilt-edged chance was wasted.

It was now the home side’s turn to enjoy territory in this Ganlys of Athlone sponsored match and they finally found a chink in the Corinthians rearguard. Martin Staunton was introduced and immediately turned over possession on the left for Buccs and within a minute the prop was finishing off this attack on the opposite flank for a 66th minute try. Gaughan added a good conversion to tighten the arrears to 10-14. Buccs were finally forcing the pace but had a let-off themselves after 73 minutes when AUDI ATHLONE Man of the Match Dolan somehow scampered back, despite clearly being hampered by a leg injury, to win possession of a defence-splitting kick ahead. Buccs tried their utmost to unlock the Corinthians cover in a frantic finish but found a magnificent Tribesmen defence nigh impenetrable and thus had to settle for another losing bonus point despite the endeavour of Callum Boland and Moloney. Meanwhile, this merited victory will boost Corinthians for next week’s tilt against city rivals Galwegians.       

BUCCANEERS:- C.Boland; R.O’Connor, C.Finn, A.Hayman (captain), E.O’Reilly; A.Gaughan, M.Dolan; J.Walshe, G.Halligan, D.Higgins; J.Tormey, D.Qualter; S.McVeigh, R.Moloney and K.Kiripati. Replacements:- C.FitzGibbon (for Finn, 43 mins), C.Romaine (for Tormey, 55 mins), C.Finn (for R.O’Connor, 55 mins), M.Staunton (for Walshe, 66 mins), J.Walshe (for Higgins, inj. 76 mins), G.O’Connor (for Dolan, inj. 76 mins) and C.Morrissey.


GALWAY CORINTHIANS:- D.Claasen; D.McDermott, D.Corcoran, D.Panther, D.Griffin; C.Murphy, M.Murphy; M.Byrne, P.O’Toole, A.Bane; U.Dillane, G.Warde; J.Merrigan (captain), M.Kelly and E.Masterson. Replacements:- C.Hansberry (for Bane, 48 mins), C.Raftery (for Warde, 60 mins), A.Bane (for Hansberry, 60 mins), R.Stanley (for Merrigan, 69 mins), C.Hansberry (for Byrne, 76 mins), C.Hansberry (for Kelly, temp. 42/48 mins) and D.Keogh.


REFEREE:- Barrie O’Connell (Connacht).




BUCCANEERS SECONDS maintain their position on top of the Connacht Junior 1B League following an impressive 26-14 victory over second-placed Castlebar at Dubarry Park, Athlone, on Sunday.  An excellent first half display in an overall solid team performance ensured that the Pirates captured the spoils, including a bonus point for tries scored, whilst denying the Mayo side any consolation from this contest.


Buccaneers Seconds564Buccs had first use of the strong breeze and they made the most of it in that opening period when they accumulated all their scores. Bolstered by the inclusion of Paul Gallogly, Josh O’Rourke and Sam McCormack in their pack and the return of Decie Byrne in the backline, the homesters promptly set about putting points on the scoreboard. Brian Walsh opened their account when his powerful run left three defenders bemused and he got in for a good early try. The outstanding Gallogly burrowed in for the second try on the left following a close-in lineout at the end of the opening quarter.

Castlebar replied with a penalty but Buccs quickly responded when Sean Flynn barrelled his way through for a try again on the left following further sustained home pressure. David Fagan, who had his best display of the season, converted two tries for a 19-3 advantage. Castlebar showed their intent, when after kicking a penalty, they forced their way over the home line shortly afterwards for a try to tighten the arrears to 19-11. However, Buccs had the final say of the first half when Brian Campbell showed deft footwork rare in a prop to waltz in for a try just before half-time. Fagan added a fine conversion to this bonus point try, giving the Pirates a 26-11 cushion to defend on the turnaround.

This they did magnificently in a keenly contested tussle. Their defence was superb, restricting the visitors to just one successful penalty as rain added to the difficulties posed by the wind. Gallogly was man of the match with Fagan a close contender. O’Rourke also stood out while Jack Feeney put in a tidy contribution in a number of positions as Buccaneers used their squad judiciously.

BUCCANEERS:-  D.Byrne; B.Walsh, J.Feeney, S.Flynn, J.Lopez; D.Fagan, G.Fallon; K.Grehan, S.Flanagan, B.Campbell; J.O’Rourke, S.Byrne (captain); S.McCormack, J.O’Donoghue and P.Gallogly. Replacements:- G.Walsh (for Lopez), R.Grenham (for Flanagan), R.Byrne (for S.Byrne), R.Enraght-Moony (for O’Donoghue) and N.Flynn (for McCormack).       




BUCCANEERS WOMENS team continue to set the pace in the Connacht Womens Development League after a hard-earned 14-12 victory over N.U.I.Galway at windy Dubarry Park, Athlone, on Sunday. They capitalised on two opportunist scores to build a winning platform and then defended heroically as the Students sought to retrieve the situation.


Antoinette Kemmy564This was Buccettes stiffest test to date against a spunky College outfit. The spritely Students were lively opponents and Buccs, who made three changes to their starting line-up, had to toil earnestly to secure the precious points. All home teams began with the wind to their backs on Sunday but the Athlone girls found it difficult to make headway early on until Colette McSpadden put in a terrific blockdown on a NUIG clearance. She smartly grubber kicked ahead and won the chase to touchdown at the posts for a 7th minute try which she also converted.

They suffered an early temporary setback when Sandra Griffin sustained a nasty nose injury but the feisty scrumhalf soon returned to the fray to make an influential contribution. Buccs dominated play for long spells but indulged in too much lateral running, making it easier for College to defend. One prolonged period of pressure should have yielded a try or two before the visitors’ fullback Katie Kilbane raised the siege with a terrific upfield sally. However, a splendid diagonal kick by McSpadden caused havoc in the NUIG rearguard and, as Tina Kiernan chased up to harry, an unorthodox attempt to kick clear on the left somehow flew into a goalpost pad and Fabienne Cooney was onto the chance like greased lightening to coolly take her try. McSpadden’s conversion put Buccs 14-0 to the good at the interval.

Now it was Buccaneers turn to face the increasingly cold breeze and patches of rain as they strove to protect their lead. NUIG found it difficult to make ground until Griffin was sin-binned on 53 minutes and College set about capitalising on their numerical advantage. Sustained pressure was rewarded when Marie Mongheal squeezed in for a 56th minute try on the left. Buccs maintained their composure and workrate and Lorna Stuart-Trainor made one key turnover inside her own 22 just before Cooney made a blistering break from deep to link up with Kiernan who just could not finish off this counter attack with a try.

Buccs continued to repel the Students with determination and discipline until the final move when NUIG’s best player Kilbane got in for a try wide on the right. The fullback kicked a splendid conversion but Buccs had done just enough to hang on for a narrow 14-12 victory. Katie Bradley and Aislinn Kelleher did well in the forwards exchanges as did sub Mele Kiripati while ‘newbie’ winger Emma O’Brien caught the eye as did Hazel Kilduff.

BUCCANEERS:- F.Cooney: N.Gough, H.Kilduff, T.Kiernan, E.O’Brien; C.McSpadden, S.Griffin; T.Finnerty, C.Mannion, K.Hynes; L.Stuart-Trainor, K.Bradley; A.Kelleher, A.Kemmy and E.Phelan (captain). Replacements:- M.Kiripati (for Griffin, blood sub), M.Kiripati (for Hynes), D.Cromar (for Kemmy), G.Goldrick (for Kiernan), A.Kemmy (for Griffin), K.Downey and M.Babalon.


N.U.I.GALWAY:- K.Kilbane; M.Mongheal, K.Kerrane, R.Julian, R.McGovern; S.Tarpey, E.Kelly; L.Kelly, K.O’Neill, E.Johnston; R.Buckley, E.Howell; A.Hennessy, E.McMahon and L.Fitzgerald. Replacements:- K.Romes, K.Nic Aoghain, C.Kber, B.Oliviera and E.McManus.       




BUCCANEERS THIRDS made it a good afternoon all round for the Athlone club when they held leaders Sligo to a 3-3 draw in their Connacht Junior 1C League duel at Dubarry Park on Sunday.  This was a most encouraging display by this Buccs squad and the meritorious draw moves them further out of the danger zone.


Assisted by the elements, they took the game to Sligo in the opening half after which they led 3-0 courtesy of a penalty by the returning Darren Costello. Sligo levelled early in the second half and, thereafter, Buccs showed commendable battling qualities particularly in defence to share the points. Outhalf Costello missed two eminently kickable penalties that should have put Buccs a bit further ahead but Sligo squandered a late “gimme” penalty that would have taken the spoils to the north-west.

With Sligo having scored 181 points prior to this game and Buccs conceded 134, this result and performance will boost the Athlone squad. In a typically dogged joust in the prevailing weather conditions, Nick Purcell and Karl Turley were prominent in the backline while Jonathan Dolan and substitute Conor Galvin played major roles in a trojan effort by the pack.

BUCCANEERS:-  G.Costello; J.Shaughnessy, C.O’Reilly, K.Turley, M.O’Daly; D.Costello, N.Purcell; Alan Hughes, M.Lyons, P.Rikadze; Anthony Hughes, J.Dolan; J.O’Connor, G.Glynn and Adrian Hughes. Replacements:- C.Hennessy (for Alan Hughes), K.Shanley (for O’Reilly, inj.), C.Galvin (for Lyons) and L.Didebashvili.



BUCCANEERS SENIORS travel north on Saturday to take on Belfast Harlequins in the Ulster Bank League Division 1B fixture which kicks off in Deramore Park, just off the Malone Road, at 2.30 p.m. With the AIL starting this season about  a month earlier than usual, it is incredible that club matches are still scheduled on the same day as Ireland international games on this Saturday and also a fortnight later! But such is life in club rugby.

Quins and Buccs have near identical records to date this season. The Ulster side have won two and lost three while the Pirates also won two, lost two and threw away the other match! Buccaneers lie in fifth place in a congested league table but are just one point above ninth placed Harlequins. Indeed one point covers six clubs in mid-table so victory will get one side out of the pack. Buccs have been frustratingly inconsistent with a couple of impressive wins, a pair of dire efforts and then the up and down of the game against Galwegians. The first half of that encounter shows the potential in the Pirates’ ranks and, if they can repeat it for an hour or more, they can win any match in this division. Saturday’s contest will be a test of their character and structure. If they front up with intent, then victory is possible.

Prop Ricky Lutton, flanker Frankie Taggart, skipper Danny Annett and No.8 Sean Reidy (a Kiwi with Irish roots) are Quins key forwards. Fullback David McMaster has contributed a share of their tries while Eamon Lane’s place-kicking accounts for about half of their scores. Ewan Strang and Roger Kirkwood are two other backs to keep an eye on. However, if Buccs improve their decision-making and cohesion, then they can launch a successful raid up North.

BUCCANEERS SECONDS are home to bottom club Corrib when the sides meet in the Connacht Junior 1B League at Dubarry Park on Sunday, kick off 2.30 p.m. While the teams are currently at opposite ends of the league table, Corrib made life extremely difficult for the midlanders when the sides met earlier in Headford in the campaign. However, on current form, the Pirates will be expected to win, provided complacency is avoided.

BUCCANEERS WOMEN are on the road to Castlebar on Sunday for a Connacht Development League tilt kicking off at 2 p.m. Buccs had a fine win when the sides met earlier in the league but it took the Buccettes some time to translate possession into scores. They eventually got the scoreboard ticking over to secure a bonus point victory. It will likely be a lot tougher this time but the Buccs girls have the composure and invention to overcome what will surely be a difficult hurdle.        



Connacht Senior squad hold an open training session in Dubarry Park, Athlone, on Friday, November 14th from 10 a.m to 12.30 p.m. All are welcome to come along. Admission is free.



Tickets for the “Your Club, Your Country” IRFU Grand Draw are now on sale from the Underage section of  Buccaneers club. Ten great prizes can be won in this super draw including a trip for two persons with the Ireland rugby team to England in 2015 (match tickets, hotel, flights & spending money included). Similar prizes for Ireland’s Six Nations away matches against Italy, Wales and Scotland next year are also up for grabs. A state of the art home entertainment system is another one of the exciting array of prizes on offer. Tickets cost just €10 each and all monies raised from tickets sold by the club goes to the club, so please support.


Gallery: University of Galway hosts Kay Bowen Cup