BUCCS KICK OFF AIL AT HOME TO LANSDOWNE
RUGBY with MICHAEL SILKE

BUCCANEERS  31  GARRYOWEN  22

BUCCANEERS recorded a most encouraging 31-22 Senior friendly victory over Garryowen at Dubarry Park, Athlone, on Saturday, in their final outing prior to next weekend’s All-Ireland League kick off. There was much to enthuse about the midlanders’ win even allowing for the friendly nature of this fixture and also for the experimentation involved by both outfits. Buccs were especially impressive and clinical in the opening period when they built up their match-winning lead in a fast-paced and lively encounter.

With the centre pitch still out of bounds on the instructions of the IRFU, which also means next Saturday’s joust at home to Lansdowne will be played on a secondary pitch, this game took place “behind” the main stand. This ground was in fine fettle and weather conditions too were ideal for both players and a reasonably sized attendance. Buccs had virtually the same starting pack as in last season’s meeting but fielded a much-changed backs unit while Garryowen had ten starters from that game. Home supporters got a first chance to see Lachlann Mitchell in action at fullback while Shane Monahan and the returning David Connellan were others to attract much attention as did Jarrod Bennett at outhalf. The pack was along anticipated lines but new coach Hendre Marnitz took the opportunity to utilise a large squad in this encounter. Alan Gaughan was one of two Garryowen players absent due to broken arms, a real setback at this stage of the season. But they nevertheless fielded a former Ireland U-20 duo at halfback in Conan Doyle and Conor Murray while Paul Neville and Philip Lavery led the pack with their usual zeal.

The game kicked off at a relatively high tempo and rarely relented. Handling errors abounded early on and tackling was not as crisp as necessary but Buccs quickly improved in both regards while the visitors poor handling persisted until the break when they trailed 31-3. A fine catch by wing Monahan set the wheels in motion for the opening score, a splendidly finished try by Paul Harte on 11 minutes, Connellan converting. Four minutes later, Murray got the light blues on the scoreboard with a penalty but virtually from the restart Aaron McCluskey was yellow-carded and Connellan restored the seven points advantage with the resultant 17th minute penalty.

Buccs promptly made their numerical advantage pay, piling on pressure which Colin Watters capitalised on to break down the blindside for a 20th minute try. Watters was again involved in Buccs third try just six minutes later linking up with Stephen Burke to give possession to Bennett and the outhalf committed his opposite number before deftly off-loading to Conor Higgins enabling the prop to dive in under the upright for a try. Connellan’s place-kicking was topclass and he converted both tries to stretch Buccaneers lead to 24-3. Bennett impressed throughout and he made a telling break after Kolo Kiripati won possession inside the home half before chipping ahead, Harte showing sublime finishing to win the race and nab the midlanders’ fourth try  which Connellan converted from the right to give the homesters a commanding 31-3 advantage at half-time.

Buccaneers changes commenced at the break, Adam Kennedy coming on for Connellan and James Tormey introduced for Anthony Hughes as the hosts continued their experimentation. Garryowen resisted changes until later and, with a point or two to prove, there was more urgency and purpose about their approach on the restart. Buccs made a further four substitutions before the 50th minute and one of the replacements Eoin Rooney was barely on the paddock when he was heading to the sin-bin as the home side were penalised for a growing count of infringements. Yet they almost added to their try tally just before the hour mark when Martin Staunton was ruled to have made a double movement in touching down.

Soon afterwards, Garryowen notched their opening try on 62 minutes, Murray punishing sloppy work by the homesters and the scrumhalf added the conversion. Both sides were now ringing the changes in personnel and Buccs (who utilised ten replacements in total) seemed to suffer somewhat from disruption as a result. Murray helped himself to another try on 70 minutes which he also converted to put a more respectable look on the scoreboard, now at 31-15. Three minutes later, Padraig de Burca should have put the game beyond doubt but he took the wrong option when ignoring a two-man overlap to his left. He was duly “clothes-lined” for his troubles and the high tackle went, surprisingly, unpunished. Bennett also visited the sin bin in the dying moments and the wily Neville showed that he has lost little of his drive when powering in for an added time try, converted by Murray, to complete the 31-22 margin in favour of Buccaneers.

This was a decent workout for the Athlone outfit and there was much to enthuse about their display, particularly in the opening half when their tackling, link-up and eye for scores were very encouraging. It would have been difficult to maintain their tempo all the way through, but they must learn from the errors of the second period. They simply cannot allow a focussed side like Lansdowne gain any momentum. However, the endeavours of pocket dynamo Watters, vision of Bennett and place-kicking of Connellan are considerable weapons in Buccs armoury. All in all, coach Marnitz will be relatively pleased and, if the commitment and purpose is repeated next Saturday, then a cracking opening day contest is most likely in the AIL.

BUCCANEERS:-  L.Mitchell; S.Monahan, P.Harte, A.Wynne, S.Stapleton; J.Bennett, D.Connellan; M.Staunton, G.Halligan (captain), C.Higgins; Anthony Hughes, P. de Burca; S.Burke, C.Watters and K.Kiripati. Replacements used:- A.Kennedy (for Connellan, h-t), J.Tormey (for Anthony Hughes, h-t), A.Hayman (for Harte, 45 mins), D.Corbett (for Mitchell, 46 mins), E.Rooney (for Kiripati, 46 mins), M.Diffley (for Higgins, 49 mins), E.Brady (for Halligan, 58 mins), B.Henshaw (for Stapleton, 58 mins), C.Draper (for Wynne, 74 mins) and Adrian Hughes (for Watters, 78 mins).

GARRYOWEN:-  L.Burke; I.Hanly, C.Hircock, C.O’Shea, R.O’Mahony; C.Doyle (captain), C.Murray; J.P.Cooney, R.Meyer, P.Lavery; F.McNamara, A.McCluskey; P.Neville, C.Whelan and D.Mulcaire. Replacements used:- R.Griffin (for McNamara, 62 mins), A.Fitzgerald (for Mulclaire, 62 mins), M.Hanrahan (for Meyer, 74 mins), D.O’Connor (for O’Mahony, 74 mins) and J.Noone (for Lavery, 77 mins).

REFEREE:- P.Jennings. (Connacht). 

BUCCANEERS 69  PORTUMNA 3

BUCCANEERS DEVELOPMENT SQUAD made an impressive start to their competitive season when they demolished Portumna 69-3 in the opening round of the Connacht Junior 1B League at Dubarry Park, Athlone, on Sunday. Buccs packed far too much power, pace and precision for a visiting outfit who, though missing some key players, looked well short of requirements.

Gary Duffy’s rampaging break roused Buccs and led to their opening score, a Colin Draper try after 11 minutes converted superbly by Domhnall Corbett. Portumna responded with what was to be their only score of a torrid afternoon, a 14th minute penalty, but Draper was grounding the ball again just three minutes later for his second try following a typically surging break by Adrian Hughes. When the ball was moved from left to right on 23 minutes Billy Henshaw finished smartly for a try and Giovanni Bianco stormed over within three minutes for try number four. Ger Walsh finished off another crossfield move just before the break for yet another try and, with Corbett converting two of these latest touchdowns, Buccs were comprehensively ahead 31-3 at halftime.

The tries kept on coming on the resumption with Walsh on the right, Duffy after a great run and Simone Bianco all getting in on the act before Darragh Lennon was sin binned for killing possession as Portumna strove for a try. Buccs piled on the agony and the scores in the final quarter of a very one-sided encounter with Lachlann Mitchell opening his account and substitute Conor Molloy helping himself to a brace. Henry Reilly got the final touchdown,  Molloy converted one try while Corbett added three conversions to his haul to complete this 69-3 rout against hapless opponents who also incurred a carding offence in the closing stages.

Henshaw’s direct running constantly caused problems for the visitors, Corbett’s place and tactical kicking added to their woes and the home pack, prompted by Adrian Hughes and Benny Gilligan, dominated from an early stage. However, Buccaneers suffered a major setback when substitute Anthony Hughes sustained a suspected fractured elbow.

BUCCANEERS:-  L.Mitchell; G.Walsh, B.Henshaw, D.Byrne, H.Reilly; D.Corbett, C.Draper; G.Bianco, E.Brady, B.Gilligan (captain); D.Dunning, G.Duffy; S.Bianco, T.Couper and Adrian Hughes. Replacements:- Anthony Hughes, D.Lennon, D.Egan, C.Molloy and M.Donohoe.

U-21’s REACH FINAL IN NEWBRIDGE

BUCCANEERS gave a very decent account of themselves in the Tomsie Byrne U-21Tournament staged recently at Newbridge RFC. Despite persistent rain all day, the tournament proved hugely successful and was extremely well run. Buccs opened with a comfortable win over hosts Newbridge and then overcame a well organised Old Wesley squad. They then squared up to St. Mary’s College in a fast-moving, end to end semi-final that went to “sudden death” where the midlanders prevailed after a thrilling contest.

A well fancied, strong Lansdowne outfit denied them ultimate success with Buccs running out of steam at the end but not out of pride or commitment as the Dubliners deservedly took the trophy. Neverthless, Buccaneers can look back on a good day’s rugby featuring much that was positive. John Hayes, Jack O’Carroll, Neil Quigley, Liam Doran, Craig Worley and Conal Gormley caught the eye most of Buccaneers 25 player panel.

BUCCANEERS:- J.Hayes, L.Doran, T.Thompson, T.Nolan, D.Henshaw, E. de Burca, N.Flynn, R.Byrne, N.Quigley, D.Tierney, I.Farrell, J.O’Carroll, B.Fagan, R.Butler, S.Flynn, C.Gormley, E.Keena, C.Worley, G.Fallon, B.Walsh, C.Greene, P.McCarthy, J.Donoghue, J.Kenny and R.Wakefield.

BUCCANEERS  26  BARNHALL/MAYNOOTH U.I.G.  15

BUCCANEERS U-21’s overcame Barnhall/Maynooth University 26-15 in a well contested friendly at busy Dubarry Park on Sunday. Buccs were helped by an early score when Philip Butler made a snappy break to set up Callum Boland for the opening try after just 5 minutes. Barnhall replied with a penalty to leave it 5-3 after a low-scoring first half.

Boland got in on the act again just after the restart, not only blocking down in midfield but grabbing possession to hare down the right flank for a smartly taken try which he also converted. Five minutes later, Jack O’Carroll intercepted as the visitors overplayed the ball inside their own 22 for another opportunist try and Boland converted both to stretch the homesters lead to 19-3. Scrumhalf Butler nabbed a try converted by Boland either side of Barnhall touchdowns to seal a well deserved home 26-15 victory.

Boland, Conal Gormley and sub Conor Greene were pick of the backs while Joe Kenny, Enda O’Brien and another sub Eoghan de Burca fared best in the forwards exchanges.

Buccs also defeated Coolmine in a U-21friendly the previous week running in seven tries in process. John Hayes, Jack O’Carroll and Conal Gormley were pick of the bunch from this outing while Stewart Flynn converted all seven tries.

BUCCANEERS:-  C.Boland; D.Fagan, E.Keena, C.Gormley, K.Naughton; J.Carty, P.Butler; D.Henshaw, E.O’Brien, L.Doran; R.Byrne, N.Quigley; J.O’Carroll, D.Tierney and J.Kenny. Replacements used:-  E. de Burca, C.Greene, R.Reid, T.Thompson, T.Nolan, C.Donnelly, B.Fagan, R.Wakefield, B.Stewart, I.Farrell, P.Larkin, G.Fallon and B.Walsh.

BALLINASLOE  12  BUCCANEERS  10

BUCCANEERS THIRDS gave a very creditable account of themselves when losing narrowly to Ballinasloe 12-10 in a floodlit friendly at Moher Road, Ballinasloe, on Friday night. Buccs led 10-0 at halftime through a try by man of the match Rory Byrne converted by Michael Donohoe who also added a penalty.

Ballinasloe, now coached by Noel Mannion, responded with a brace of tries, one of which was converted to earn them the decisive score in a mainly forwards battle. Nevertheless, Buccs were well pleased with their endeavours against what was mainly the hosts First XV while the visitors also opted to run the ball from a number of kickable penalty positions and they also rotated their squad as they prepare for their league campaign. Buccs backrow trio of Byrne, Stephen Woods and Michael O’Regan did well throughout as did prop Rory O’Brien.

BUCCANEERS:-  R.Silke; G.Walsh, A.Roche, D.Byrne, T.Couper; M.Donohoe, G.Fallon; E.Bracken, K.Grehan, R.O’Brien; G.Duffy, D.Dunning; M.O’Regan, S.Woods and R.Byrne. Replacements used:- G.Bianco, S.Bianco, C.Doran, D.Lennon, D.Malone, M.Turley and K.O’Neill.

BUCCS OPEN AIL AT HOME TO LANSDOWNE

BUCCANEERS KICK OFF the season in earnest when they take on Lansdowne in the opening round of the All-Ireland League Division 1B at Dubarry Park, Athlone, on Saturday at 2.30 p.m. This promises to be a cracking contest for Lansdowne are not your really typical promoted club as the Dubliners, with a large panel, will have strong ambitions to continue their upward spiral while Buccs have been showing rejuvenated form so far this season.

There is a real buzz around Dubarry Park as this game approaches. Competition for starting positions has resulted in strong turnouts at training where new coach Hendre Marnitz’s attention to detail and fresh ideas are reaping rewards. Buccaneers retained virtually all last season’s squad which was, in the main, a relatively youthful one and these players are now a year older, wiser and match-hardened. Garreth Halligan captains the team for his second term and the hooker, who has been a wonderful servant to the club for many season, will surely lead by example. He is a wily, mobile and skilful operator who can always be counted on to give his best.

Conor Higgins, Martin Staunton, the back again Michael Diffley, Italian Giovanni Bianco, Benny Gilligan and Eddie Brady will be bidding for the other front row positions. Padraig de Burca and James Tormey are the likely combination at lock, particularly in light of Anthony Hughes’ unfortunate injury last weekend. Comppetion is also intensive in the backrow where last season’s ‘Athlone Springs Hotel Player of the year’ Stephen Burke is being challenged by Monivea’s Eoin Rooney at wing forward. Kolo Kiripati is likely to take over the No. 8 role vacated by Colm Rigney and the ‘Duracell groundhog’ Colin Watters may well be the management’s first name on the team sheet. Young Daniel Qualter could also come into the reckoning in the pack.

In last week’s victory over Garryowen, Jarrod Bennett and David Connellan made strong markers to start at halfback but Adam Kennedy and Alex Hayman, who both did reasonably well there last season, will be strong contenders too. Bennett excelled against Garryowen, showing good vision and variety in his play and also putting in hard graft and tackling when called upon to do so. Hayman could also be used in the centre where the likely pairing seems to be Paul Harte and Aidan Wynne. Harte is a class finisher while Wynne is the ideal foil here. Sean Stapleton and new boy Shane Monahan are likely to be the formidable forces on either flank with perhaps John O’Brien or Australian Lachlann Mitchell at fullback. Billy Henshaw’s pace and eye for a gap will ensure that he too could well start in the back three while youngsters Domhnall Corbett, Callum Boland and Colin Draper are others who will be keen to get their chance on Saturday.       

Lansdowne were clear winners of Division 2 last season, not slipping up as they did when in pole position in the previous campaign. They have produced a plethora of exciting young players in recent years and they had no less than six players in the Ireland U-20 squad at the recent Junior World Cup in Argentina. Forwards Dominic Ryan and Jack O’Connell are well familiar to regulars at Dubarry Park while a quartet of backs David Kearney, Shane Gahan, Matt Healy and Eamonn Sheridan also made the trip to South America. Lansdowne have also recruited John Cooney, Tom Sexton and Jordi Murphy, three more exciting young players so their emphasis is clearly on the future. Add in the likes of Ron Boucher, David Hewitt, consistent placekicker Andrew Geraghty and ex-Bucc Justin Meagher into the mix and you have a potent panel, although another former Buccs favourite William Wallace has other things on his mind, currently being on honeymoon!

Saturday’s showdown looks like being a lively and entertaining affair and, if Buccaneers can reproduce and maintain the endeavour and commitment of their opening half against Garryowen for the full duration, then they can make a winning start to the AIL. Focus, workrate, discipline and a clinical approach must be evident but Buccs look rejuvenated and purposeful and, with the support of a big home crowd, they can hit the ground running.

Incidentally, supporters are advised that the IRFU has ruled out the use of the main pitch this weekend, to give the recent work on the pitch further time to be in perfect order. Consequently, Saturday’s match against Lansdowne will take place on the side pitch behind the main stand, so pirates and other supporters are urged to come along a little bit earlier than normal to make access that bit easier.

PRE-MATCH TABLES

Pre-match tables can be booked for all Buccaneers home AIL matches at just €240 per table of 8 persons.  This includes 3-course meal, plenty of own brand Buccaneers wine, served by our Ladies committee, seat in the stand (Lansdowne match excepted) and souvenir match programme. Smaller groups are also welcome, and at only €30 per head this is real value. Contact Geraldine at 086-1732711 to book or enquire re further details.

OTHER FIXTURES

Buccaneers Thirds (still awaiting a Connacht League fixtures list) travel to Tuam for a floodlit friendly on Wednesday night while the U-21’s entertain Clontarf at Dubarry Park, also in a floodlit friendly, on Friday night, kick off 8 p.m. The Development XV are home to N.U.I.G. in the second round of the Connacht Junior 1B league on Sunday, kick off 3 p.m., when they should be well able to produce another winning display.

UNDERAGE REGISTRATION NIGHT

Youths and Minis registration takes place at The Bounty on this Thursday evening September 30th from 7 p.m. All underage players, from U-19 down to Minis, should attend accompanied by a parent.

FASHION SHOW

A FASHION SHOW, featuring the Dubarry winter range as well as other exclusive brands, takes place in the Athlone Springs Hotel on Thursday, November 4th at 8 p.m. (Please note change of date). Tickets for this event which commences with a champagne reception are now on sale at The Bounty and/or the hotel and are priced at €20. Fashions can be purchased on the night when ticket holders will be granted generous discounts, plus with some Buccaneers players parading on the ramp, it should be a fun night out for the ladies!

MEMBERSHIP SUBSCRIPTIONS/INSURANCE/JERSEYS

MEMBERSHIP SUBSCRIPTIONS are now due for all members including players, who should also ensure they have their own appropriate Insurance cover. Pirates membership subs are also due so please renew early to avail of the array of associated benefits.
The recent “amnesty” re jerseys got a decent response but if any players still have not returned jerseys from last season, kindly hand them in to Micky Carroll or any team manager. The same applies to anyone who has club footballs in their possession. Replica Buccs jerseys can be ordered via the club.

CONGRATULATIONS

Congratulations to Caolan Bushell and William Wallace and their respective brides Aoife and Nikki on their recent nuptials.

CONDOLENCES

Lindsay Adamson, one of life’s gentle and good humoured men, went to his eternal reward all too early last week. Lindsay was deeply involved in the club when Squash was in its heyday and he served on various committees. Deepest sympathy is extended to his wife Geraldine and family.   

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