Jim Fitzgibbon

Brilliant first-half tries, out wide, from John Maguire and Robbie Henshaw were followed by a try to seal this Connacht U-19 League match in second half by Anthony Cassidy on a 19-6 scoreline at Dubarry Park, Athlone. To his great credit the exceptionally difficult conversion positions were converted without much ado by Jack Carty to put Buccs top of this league.

Monivea’s six points from two penalties in the first half were their only spoils on the board but it doesn’t tell the full story as for the most part this was just a six point game, that gap remaining only because Monivea, and they won’t be happy with themselves, as they missed two very kickable penalties. As it turned out the four points and the extra confidence that grew out of Carty’s two excellent conversions lead Buccs to win the day and remain on top of this prestigious under 19 Connaught League.

Playing into the wind and well within themselves in the first quarter, with the score at nil all, Bucaneers were challenged to penetrate a stout Monivea defence. Monivea’s able footballers gelled together leaving no space or opportunity in any part of the pitch and they kicked from the hand as intelligently as any team so far met this year. Monivea players togged out well looking big, lean and mean and yet with amazing skill and teamwork shown off by elaborate moves that this scribe never saw before and worked very well by switching players at lineout time. However Buccs in response provided very strong tackling by the midfield three Carty, Henshaw and ever robust Mel Corbett who were well backed-up by back row trio of Aidan Connaughton, Christy Haughian and James Donoghue and indeed Buccs hooker Conor Hannify all produced necessary and telling impact tackles.

So Buccs found they were in a match and in response they rose to the physical challenge, increased their urgency in their teamwork and in the second quarter reaped the rewards with two well-worked tries.

The first Buccs try was finished off in style by Maguire who not only touched this one down but it was the reward for his adaptation to playing on the left wing. Running there, Maguire often beat several players by running while changing direction. He does this so well that makes easy picking up for the following Buccs pack, so it was no accident that the breakthrough came in his left hand corner. This broke the deadlock and the enthusiastic attendance showed their relief and appreciation as they gladly shook the icicles from their hands to clap.

Monivea however are not for caving in and in fact presented several dangerous threats to Buccs all through the match. Playing against this stiff wind Buccs and were now wide awake and were venturing more often in the opposition territory. This pressure yielded Buccs second try by centre Henshaw. This try, the result of a solid scrum, packed down well by Glen Carey, Hanniffy and Bryan Teaper, well backed up by second row locks Eoin Casey and John Dooley, both of whom as well as Teaper who performed several significant carries throughout the game. The Buccs scrum at all times seemed to be lower, more solid and tighter than the opposition scrum. The ball provided from this particular scrum was entrusted into the waiting hands of outstanding number 8 Connaughton whose wise straight running into a half break and pass set Henshaw free to exploit enough space as he did with an enormous turn of speed, handing off tacklers while weaving, leaving the defence flat footed. The conversion from this right hand side, into the breeze was arguably harder for Carty who is a right footed kicker, yet he slotted it over as a knife through butter.

On one more occasion, after a very long successful Carty hand-pass to Conor Seerey who all but made an excellent try when after his dashing run the ball spilled onto the deck at the touch down. Gladly this was not a turning point of the match.

The potential of the Buccs back three of wingers Seerey, Maguire and full back Callum Boland who all played really well could it seems as a unit move their game up to the next level when as well as fielding the ball as individuals, as they do brilliantly already, the two players not catching the ball could run over to support the ball catcher by being in a supporting running position where then they could link up and could exploit the enormous space and take these golden opportunities to counter attack together and create great scoring chances from deep. This became obvious when playing into the wind in the first half, with Monivea exploiting the wind so often and Buccs ball catcher would be isolated and forced to kick away possession instead of sometimes varying it with the above.

The half-time score was 14 to 6 in favour of Buccs. In the second half, the Buccs pack now with fresh legs of Lee McLaughlin and Eunan McBrearty who came on for Carey and Haughian, and in the backs winger Maguire was replaced by the adaptable Liam Claffey while Cassidy replaced Seerey. Later Boland due to a minor leg injury was replaced by Maguire. Both packs were largely equally capable and the introduction of McLaughlin supported well the excellent Buccs pack effort. Again, behind the scrum, the decision making and use of the wind by Barry Digby, who had an excellent game and Carty, proved decisive in gaining territory. However for long periods it was Monivea who camped on Buccs line and all but scored. Buccs discipline was too often called into question when the use of the lip will always be punished to keep players aggression focussed and the game as safe as possible. Thus Buccs gave away territory on about four occasions that always provides a great boost to the opposition.

On one occasion, when the score was just 14 points to 6, Buccs won a precious ball deep in their own 22, and extraordinarily although playing with the wind, Buccs outhalf risked a crossfield kick to his winger who at the time was marked by his opposite number. When he didn’t receive it successfully it was only for the bounce of the ball the hungry hard working focussed Monivea outfit could have been handed a seven pointer that would have narrowed the gap to the minimum. On this particular occasion at least some Buccs supporters would have preferred a long downfield kick to relieve the pressure. Phew !

Full credit to the display given to the extremely committed Buccs team defence from one to fifteen who, on their own line, admirably repelled attack after attack and preserved the scoreline. After this spell and a relieving kick downfield, quality ball was spun into the safe hands of Cassidy who beat his man to touch down for Buccs third score.

Next match will be next Sunday away to Corinthians. Kick off will be at 12 noon. Players note training will be at 7.30 sharp next Friday night.

Buccaneers Panel:- Bryan Teaper, Lee McLoughlin, Robbie Henshaw, John Maguire, Conor Seerey, Christy Haughian, Paul Hewitt, Anthony Cassidy, Eunan McBrearty, Robert Corcoran, Aidan Conaughton, Barry Digby, Jack Carty, Mel Corbett, Glen Carey, James Donoghue, John Dooley, Eoin Casey, Cian O’Reilly, Conor FitzGibbon, Liam Claffey, Callum Boland, Conor Hannify and Danny Qualter.



BUCCANEERS will bid to retain their top of the table status when they travel to Limerick on Saturday to take on UL Bohemian in the fifth round of All Ireland League Division 1B matches, kick off 2.30 p.m. In a very tight and competitive division, UL Bohs lie in fifth position but are only three points adrift of the midlanders who head the table by virtue of their superior scoring ratio from Clontarf.

Saturday’s match will surely be a tough encounter as UL Bohs would have been considered by many to make a prompt return to the top flight from which they were relegated last season. But they have been frustratingly inconsistent this term, mixing impressive wins over Dungannon (away) and Lansdowne (home) with unexpected defeats to Galwegians and particularly Bruff. However, that recent setback at Kilballyowen Park will make them dangerous foes for the Pirates as UL Bohs will be especially keen to bounce back from that shock upset.

There is lots of potential in their side that boasts a really good backrow trio of Munster’s Tommy O’Donnell, Kieran Essex at No. 8 and fiery ex-Bucc Kieran O’Gorman. Dave Kilcoyne, Sean Henry and Pa O’Regan are likely to form a formidable front row trio. Although Danny Riordan has departed, captain Martin McPhail and Ed Torrie are exciting backs while Munster’s Barry Murphy could continue his rehabilitation after injury with another outing for the Limerick side. Place-kicking seems to be a problem area for them at the moment with J.J.Hanrahan and Stuart Flanagan both endeavouring to nail down this role. Scrumhalf Cathal Sheridan would be very familiar to recent Buccaneers U-21 mentors.

At full strength, Buccs would have the belief to prevail in this contest but team mentors will watch Connacht’s representative game against Samoa on Tuesday with some trepidation as Shane Monahan, Aidan Wynne, Brian Touhy, Conor O’Loughlin and Dylan Rogers are all involved. However, Jarrod Bennett may be fit to resume while Garreth Halligan and Colin Watters are both likely to be fully recovered from knocks sustained in the victory over UCC. Padraig de Burca and Stephen Burke will both have benefited from their inputs in that outing and Adam Kennedy is another who will be nearer full fitness for the trip to UL Bohs, so the management are likely to have improved options especially if the Connacht players come through unscathed against Samoa (and provided some or all are released by the province).

Buccs were very good in their finishing flurry against College but they will need to maintain that level for a much lengthier spell if they are to continue their winning ways in Limerick. The midlanders were highly effective when patiently picking and going, steadily making the hard yards, before a backline sporting the potency of Paul Harte, John O’Brien and Touhy could wreak havoc through the gaps. Kolo Kiripati and Alex Hayman can be a key influences against UL Bohs and Watters and Burke look the right men to front up to the challenge posed by the home back row trio. In the trenches, Halligan will surely bring out the best of young props Conor Higgins and Martin Staunton while a lively second row of de Burca and James Tormey or Daniel Qualter look up to the task ahead. David Connellan was much more comfortable in his best role at scrumhalf and his place-kicking was not dented by his off-day at Clontarf.

It won’t be easy (it never is against Limerick opposition) but Buccs seems to have a fine mix of steel and potential, youth and experience this season. They are an extremely well-drilled outfit at present, confidence is high, and if focus and application reaches the required levels, then Buccaneers can overcome UL Bohs. At time of writing, this game is going ahead at the same time and day as the Ireland v Samoa international fixture, but venue (whether Thomond Park or Annacotty) is still to be confirmed, so check our website for further details later in the week.


For those unable to travel to the UL Bohemian match, Buccaneers U-21’s have a very attractive home fixture when they tackle Cork Constitution in the South-West Conference of the National League at Dubarry Park on Saturday afternoon, kick off 2.30 p.m.

Buccs disappointed last time out away to UL Bohs with an off-colour performance. However, with a bit of fine-tuning, particularly with regard to their lineout play, they can make home advantage pay. They are likely to be without Daniel Qualter and Jarrod Bennett but will probably have Callum Boland and Jack Carty available for key roles in the backline. John Hayes, Joe Kenny and the Fagan brothers are other handy operators who will put it up to the Corkonians from start to finish. Meanwhile, the U-21 second string travel to Kilfeacle for a first meeting between the clubs in Division 2 of the South-West Conference League. This set of young Buccs will be hoping for better luck in this encounter, which also has a 2.30 p.m kick off on Saturday. 

Buccs Development squad resume league action when they entertain Connemara in the Connacht Junior League at Dubarry Park on Sunday, kick off 2.30 p.m. They should possess too much craft and guile for the Blacks.


BUCCANEERS THIRDS were not quite cute enough when going down narrowly 12-10 to Sligo Seconds in their Connacht Junior League tie at Hamilton Park on Sunday. Playing conditions were absolutely horrendous and got progressively worse as the game ensued. Buccs suffered for not harnessing the strong breeze in the opening half, trying to run ball when they should have been leathering it downfield deep into opposition territory. They also coughed up a cheap try after a mere two minutes so it was always going to be a struggle thereafter. Sligo’s second try was also of the soft variety and, with Buccs opting not to kick for goal with a penalty or two, the north-westerners led 12-10 at the break as a result.

Bitterly cold, sheets of rain and a driving breeze meant Buccs were in for a torrid second half, but they knuckled down to the challenge and kept it tight throughout a competitive but scoreless second half. They battled with tremendous courage and commitment but the damage was done to their chances in the opening half during which Keith O’Neill scored their try, converted by Michael Donohoe who also kicked one penalty. Michael O’Regan was superb at lock for Buccs with Sean Byrne and Brian Moore to the fore in the best of Buccs forwards play while Karl Turley was pick of the backs who, due to the extreme conditions, saw very little of the ball!

BUCCANEERS:-  K.O’Neill; G.Fallon, D.Costello, P.Byrne, G.Walsh; M.Donohoe, K.Turley; R.O’Brien, E.Bracken, B.Moore; M.O’Regan, G.Duffy; T.Couper, S.Woods and S.Byrne. Replacements:- Alan Hughes (for O’Brien), P.Hynes (for Woods) and C.Sheehy (for Donohoe).


In surprisingly good weather conditions, Monivea outpointed Buccaneers B 19-10 in their South-West Conference of the U-21 National League fixture played at Dubarry Park on Saturday. This league gives fringe Buccs players an opportunity for game-time in which they can stake their claim for selection on the premier XV. This proved to be a wholehearted affair and Monivea prospered from having had a competitive outing the previous week when they won at home to Kilfeacle. Nevertheless, Buccaneers can take heart from the industry and influence of Ger Fallon at outhalf, Paul Larkin in the centre and fullback Padraig McCarthy until injured. Rob Wakefield, Ian Farrell and Stephen Feery were a competitive and useful backrow trio.


Buccaneers FASHION SHOW at the Athlone Springs Hotel proved a huge success on many fronts last Thursday. A bumper crowd turned up on the night, justifying all the hard work put in beforehand for this event. The range of fashions presented by Dubarry on the night was different to the norm, giving the occasion an added twist. Most of the ladies in the attendance were well aware of the quality Dubarry footwear, but most were surprised by the range of their unique line of fashion also. 

An interesting mix of display stands added to the occasion as did the unusual Celtic theme to the music and the catwalk exploits of club captain Garreth Halligan and our Italian flanker Simone Bianco. Fair play to ye, lads!  A huge array of prizes ensured that many of the ladies who supported the event did not go home empty handed. The prize for the ‘Best Dressed Lady’ also attracted keen competition with five ladies selected to take to the ramp with the main prize going to Antoinette Egan, wife of former club President David. Here we acknowledge the generosity of all who sponsored the lovely prizes especially the VIP overnight stay at Wineport Lodge.

As mentioned above, a lot of hard work was put in for this Fashion Show with Geraldine Kenny, Rosie Reid and Laura Greene leading the way and getting much assistance from Patricia Cleary, Regina Bushell, Mele Kiripati and Corrie Marnitz among others to ensure everything ran smoothly. And once again Eamonn Fagan proved he is truly a hands-on sponsor, providing a team of no less than ten persons from Dubarry for a long day and night at the event. A sincere “Thank You” to all who contributed to the success of this Fashion Show.


Despite most teams being up and running and going nice and steadily already, there are nevertheless some teams that have positions as Coaches and/or Managers to fill. No earth-shattering experience is necessary but anyone interested (perhaps recent former players) with some time and commitment to spare will be most welcome at the club. If Youths or Minis is your preferred interest, contact John Sheridan at 087-9823140. If you wish to assist at Adult level, kindly contact our Administrator Geraldine at 086-1732711.


A full range of Buccaneers replica gear will be available for sale at Buccs next home All Ireland League match against Galwegians on Saturday, November 27th. Replica jerseys, shorts, socks with new Buccs logo, and hoodies will be among the extensive range of items on sale. Embroidered club tops and backpacks as well as fleece beanies will also be on display for sale. The range of items make ideal Christmas gifts and orders can be placed on the day. All stock will be on show in “The Lower Deck” room at The Bounty.


The aforementioned Galwegians match on November 27th is Buccaneers only home All Ireland League match before Christmas. Bookings are being taken for tables at the pre-match function. Each table of eight persons costs only €240 which is really good value. For €30, each guest can enjoy a fine meal, complimentary wine, reserved seat in the stand, and a 100 page souvenir match-day programme. Of course, tables of more or less than eight persons can be catered for. Contact Geraldine at 086-1732711 to book. 


Deepest sympathy is extended to Patrick Cooney and family on the death of his sister Christine.


Check out page 74 in the matchday programme for a short but very complementary piece on Buccaneers! Incidentally, some tickets may be available yet for Ireland’s remaining ‘Autumn’ internationals. Enquiries to Dave Connolly 087-6471308.


Connacht Emerging Talent squad named for game against Leinster North Midlands