BUCCANEERS suffered their second successive Connacht Senior League defeat when they went down 24-3 to Galwegians at Dubarry Park, Athlone, on Saturday. Buccs were again seriously depleted with nine changes in their starting line-up from the previous week’s first match of the season.  With less a handful of frontliners, their inexperienced and lighter squad could not match the physicality and bulk of Wegians who secured a crucial bonus point try just four minutes from time.


On a sunny afternoon, a crossfield breeze affected the play but Buccs dominated the opening quarter. Wegians were slow to settle and quickly conceded four penalties. All were in relatively kickable range but two of the first three were punted to touch on the left while David Fagan was off-target with the second effort. However, the outhalf found the range on 14 minutes after the visitors’ infringing drew the ire of referee Karol Collins who despatched Ross Fitzgerald to the sin bin.

But Wegians were ahead within four minutes, Jerome Harimate making space for Paddy Finn (brother of Buccs’ Conor) to get in for a try on the right. Although Ronan Burke failed to convert, this score steadied the visitors and they gradually got the upper hand, particularly in the set pieces. Their pack ground away and Brian McClearn touched down for a pushover try four minutes from the interval. Although Burke was again wide with his conversion attempt and a subsequent penalty, Galwegians led 10-3 at half-time.

Buccs needed to score first on the resumption and Dominic Griffith went close with a promising break while Mark Abraham, who along with Callum Boland was best of the home backs, was just wide with a long penalty three minutes in to the second half. Ten minutes later, the light blues forwards again made good ground and, when Martin Connolly got possession, his dummy was bought much too readily by the home defence and he darted in for a try. The scrumhalf now assumed placekicking duties for the visitors and duly converted his own touchdown.

Buccs continued to work hard but could not match their endeavour with the requisite enterprise and precision, despite the best efforts in an out-gunned pack of Martin Staunton (captain for the day), Shane Casey and Luke Satchwell. Frequently missed passes did not help their cause but Wegians were not overly impressive either. However, they held the ace in the power of their pack and prop Paul Griffin was at the end of another solid rumble by the Wegians forwards to secure their fourth try after 76 minutes. Connolly converted to complete the 24-3 scoreline in favour of the westerners who now face city rivals Corinthians in the decisive league clash next weekend.

For Buccs, shorn of far too many key players, it was another tough learning curve but many young and promising players will benefit from these tests. Two sets of brothers played for the Pirates, David and Brendan Fagan and Sean and Rory Byrne. The Byrne alliance was at lock and faring well but, unfortunately, Sean sustained a nasty head wound that brought his involvement to a premature finish by the end of the opening quarter.

BUCCANEERS:-  C.Boland; K.Naughton, R.Pepper-Hobbs, M.Abraham, G.Costello; D.Fagan, D.Griffith; M.Staunton (captain), E.O’Brien, D.Higgins; S.Byrne, R.Byrne; B.Fagan, S.Casey and L.Satchwell. Replacements:- P.Maxwell (for S.Byrne, inj. 20 mins),  L.Doran (for Higgins, 28 mins), D.Byrne (for Costello, h/t), R.Enraght-Moony (for B.Fagan, h/t), G.Fallon (for Griffith, 54 mins), D.Higgins (for Doran, 67 mins) and B.Fagan (for Maxwell, 72 mins).


GALWEGIANS:-  R.Keegan; L.Walsh, R.Moore, J.Harimate, P.Finn; R.Burke, M.Connolly; J.Naughton, C.Muldoon, P.Griffin; A.Ryan, B.McClearn (captain); A.O’Sullivan, R.Fitzgerald and E.Rooney. Replacements:- E.Carl (for Ryan, inj. 20 mins), D.McHugh (for Griffin, 20 mins), S.Thompstone (for Finn, 37 mins), P.Griffin (for McHugh, h/t), D.McHugh (for Griffin, 49 mins), S.Perkins (for Fitzgerald, 55 mins),  J.East (for Naughton, 55 mins) and P.Griffin (for Muldoon, 63 mins).

REFEREE:- K. Collins (Connacht).



BUCCANEERS face Sligo in the Connacht Senior League at Dubarry Park, Athlone, on Saturday, kick off 2.30 p.m. Both teams will be eager to register their first competitive win of the season so a keen tussle is anticipated. The north-westerners suffered a heavy home defeat to Galwegians but gave Corinthians a tight call last weekend. Buccs lost to both Galway clubs too but fielded very depleted squads for both encounters. They expect to line out at greater strength this Saturday with seasoned campaigners Alex Hayman, Garreth Halligan and James Tormey all back after being unavailable last weekend as was Billy Henshaw who should also return. Mark Dolan’s injury will, hopefully, be cleared up and John O’Brien may be back too after his GAA commitments. So a much stronger spine anticipated to add to Callum Boland, Rory Byrne and Diarmuid Higgins who resumed action last weekend. If all the aforementioned hit the paddock, then Buccs should prevail although doughty Sligo will ask questions of the homesters.

BUCCANEERS SECONDS have a friendly against Ballinasloe on Saturday with a 4.30 p.m. kick off at Dubarry Park. Ballinasloe had a good win when the sides met a couple of weeks ago at Moher Road but Buccs are better organised now and many of their players would have seen some Senior action in the interim. Consequently, they can redress the balance!        



Best of luck to Niamh Ni Dhroma not only on her new role as Buccaneers Womens Captain but also on her being named in the Ireland Womens Elite Sevens squad. This is a terrific achievement for Niamh, who is now looking forward to (and training hard for) a trip to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates in November.

The Irish Womens Sevens side is just one of eight core teams in an expanded IRB Womens Sevens World Series schedule commencing in Dubai. Other rounds are being held around the globe in cities such as Atlanta (USA), Sao Paulo (Brazil), Guangzhao (China) and Amsterdam (Holland) in the build up to the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Niamh, these venues sure beat Carrick on a mucky wintry afternoon!

A member of the Defence Forces, Dubliner Niamh is a class act in the Buccs Womens side where, apart from her on-field play, she makes a splendid contribution to the squad, with whom she has won Connacht League and Cup honours in just two seasons. She will now skipper Buccaneers when they commence their All-Ireland League campaign, beginning with a home match against Rathdrum on Sunday week at 1 p.m. Go for it, Niamh!



Player Registration Day takes place at Buccaneers RFC on Saturday week September 14th from 11 a.m. Players at all grades should attend on the day, particularly Youths and Minis. Membership Subscriptions for the coming season can be paid on the day when a €10 discount applies. Events such as face-painting for the younger brigade will take place on the day and all attending will be admitted free to the big Connacht Senior Cup semi-final clash between Buccaneers and Galwegians that afternoon. More details in next week’s column and on the club’s website.


Congrats to Paschal and Brid Dillon on the birth of their first child, a son James.



Deepest sympathy is extended to the family of the late Delia Curley, mother-in-law of Michael Cunningham (Westport and IRFU).




Connacht Emerging Talent squad named for game against Leinster North Midlands