Bonus point win moves Buccs up league table



 BUCCANEERS found it third time lucky to get on the winning trail in home fixtures when they defeated Bruff 32-10 in their Ulster Bank League Division 1B meeting under the Dubarry Park, Athlone, floodlights on Friday. Their victory was richly merited with two tries in the final minute earning the Pirates a bonus point against a very game effort by the Limerick visitors. Buccs now move up to fifth place in the league table.


Torrential rain just before and at regular intervals throughout the game made this a testing contest. It may have hampered Buccs endeavours to move the ball quickly but doughty Bruff, ravaged by emigration since they won the Bateman Cup less than two years ago, dug deep to make this an absorbing contest. Michael Kearney returned at lock in place of James Tormey, who was injured in last week’s win at Ballymena, while Alex Hayman and Conor Finn swopped berths in the centre. Shane Layden and Callum Boland also switched positions as Martin Cahill took charge due to incoming coach Tony Dolan having prior work commitments in Germany.

Jack Carty and Brian Carroll traded early penalties before Mark Cosgrove did well to get across to boot Mark McCrea’s intelligent chip ahead into touch. The greasy conditions ensured handling errors but Carty was in topclass line kicking form as the homesters steadily assumed ascendancy. Their growing territory saw Mike Carroll yellow carded on 32 minutes for not releasing in the tackle and Carty duly converted the resultant penalty. Eoghan Grace then led a typical charge forward that was spoiled by a knock-on in a promising position later in the move. The pressure was eventually rewarded when Carty won the chase to his own teasing kick ahead for the opening try two minutes before the break with his conversion giving Buccs a 13-3 lead at halftime.

Carty was marginally off-target with penalty kicks either side of the interval and it took Buccs until deep in the third quarter to add to their tally as Bruff battled resolutely. But, when it came, it was a quite magnificent flowing move, started and finished by Finn, yielding a superb 58th minute home try which Carty did not convert. McCrea then had to be alert when dealing with a clever diagonal kick by Bruff while the visitors had a real let off on 69 minutes after the lively Boland had seemingly hared through for a try on the right only to be denied by the intervention of a touch-judge, who flagged for a perceived crossing early in the build-up to the touchdown.

Bruff continued to work honestly and their best spell of the second half was rewarded with a 75th minute try by flanker Mike Carroll which was converted by his brother flyhalf Brian to tighten the margin to 18-10. This set up a nervous finish for the decent attendance who braved the atrocious weather that turned quite cold as the game progressed.

However, Buccs maintained their endeavour and workrate to rule out any hopes of an upset when Bruff were slow in clearing their lines and Finn intercepted close in to dive over for the killer 79th minute try. From the restart, Hayman ran straight back at the now disheartened Bruff defence and David Heffernan was up in support to grab Buccs fourth try. Carty converted both scores for a 17 points haul that earned him a deserved ‘AUDI ATHLONE Man of the Match’ accolade. Boland and Hayman were always eager in a lively home backline while Daniel Qualter, Johannes Roets and Martin Staunton were most prominent in the well-contested battle of the packs.

Footnote:-  One minute of silence was observed before the match as a mark of respect to Faalau Pisu, brother of Buccaneers Womens captain Mele Kiripati, who died tragically in Australia.  

BUCCANEERS:-  C.Boland; S.Layden, C.Finn, A.Hayman, M.McCrea; J.Carty, M.Dolan; M.Staunton, G.Halligan, J.Roets; M.Kearney, D.Qualter; D.Heffernan, E.Grace (captain) and L.Satchwell. Replacements:- R.Byrne (for Kearney, 4-11 mins), D.Higgins (for Staunton, 59 mins), R.Byrne (for Satchwell, inj. 64 mins), B.Henshaw (for Layden, inj. 74 mins), M.Staunton (for Roets, 74 mins) and B.Digby (for Dolan, 77 mins).


BRUFF:-  B.Deady; M.Cosgrove, P.O’Brien, G.Bolger, R.Finn; B.Carroll, E.Maher; D.Horan, C.O’Regan, M.Lynch; P.Lynch, M.O’Connell (captain); M.Carroll, D.Keogh and M.McCarthy. Replacements:- B.Cahill (for O’Brien, inj. 39 mins), K.Laffan (for M.Lynch, 46 mins), P.Cleary (for O’Connell, 59 mins), J.Hogan (for O’Regan, 59 mins), G.Leonard (for Bolger, 59 mins), M.O’Connell (for Keogh, 64 mins), G.Bolger (for Cahill, 67 mins), D.Keogh (for O’Connell, 69 mins) and B.Cahill (for Bolger, 70 mins).


REFEREE:- Mark Patton (Ulster).




BUCCANEERS DEVELOPMENT SQUAD maintained their winning sequence in the Connacht Junior 1B League when they overcame Ballinasloe 15-6 at Moher Road, Ballinasloe, on Sunday. This was a typically dogged but, nevertheless, poor derby duel in which Buccs were that bit sharper to win at the ground where they cruelly missed out on promotion in their final fixture last season.


No quarter was asked or given, and scores were very hard to come by especially in the opening half after which Buccs had their noses just in front. Brian Walsh got in for an unconverted try while Ballinasloe garnered a penalty for a 5-3 scoreline at the interval. Jason Connolly, operating out of his regular position, notched a vital second try which Glen Costello converted. The rookie fullback also landed a penalty while the hosts’ scoring was again curtailed to a penalty in the second half.

It was not a spectacular affair to witness but Buccs put in an all-round, workmanlike effort to prevail. Connolly and Paul Maxwell were pick of the forwards while Dominic Griffith and John Maguire did well in the backline.

BUCCANEERS:-  G.Costello; B.Walsh, D.Byrne, R.Walshe, J.Maguire; D.Griffith, B.Digby; D.Lennon (captain), D.Burns, D.Higgins; R.Byrne, R.Farrell; D.Egan, P.Maxwell and J.Connolly. Replacements used:- L.Doran, J.O’Rourke and R.Corcoran.




BUCCANEERS WOMENS team enjoyed a decent 22-0 Connacht Womens League victory away to Tuam on Sunday. Conditions were very good for this encounter and the Buccs ladies put in a solid team effort to secure a bonus point win.


In a lively contest, there was little between the teams when Buccs held a slim 5-0 lead at halftime. Elaine Conlon scored this try, driving over from a close-in penalty. Buccettes superiority told in the second period with Natasha Egan doubling their advantage when she finished off a fine move following a lineout to make a splendid try scoring break from the 22. Aisling Kelleher continued her impressive run of scores when getting in near the posts for a try which Niamh Ni Dhroma converted. Ni Dhroma, fresh from a successful debut in the boxing ring, then put the icing on the cake when, after a good break by the backs, she grabbed an important bonus point try to complete the 22-0 winning margin over a luckless Tuam outfit.

Kelleher and Sharon Hynds were pick of the backline while Eimear Phelan and the versatile and enthusiastic Myriam Borque Cascajo caught the eye in the forwards exchanges.

One  minute of silence was observed before kick off as a mark of respect for Faalau Pisu, brother of Buccaneers Womens Captain Mele Kiripati, who died tragically last week .

BUCCANEERS:-  E.Treanor; N.Ni Dhroma, A.Kelleher, N.Gough; C.Mannion, S.Hynds; M.Borque Cascajo, T.Finnerty, A.M.Sleator; C.Moore, N.Egan; E.Phelan, S.O’Shea and E.Conlon. Replacements used:- A.Kemmy, Y.O’Shea, M.Devaney and S.Taylor.



BUCCANEERS travel to Belfast on Saturday to tackle Malone in the Ulster Bank League Division 1B at Gibson Park on the Cregagh Road, kick off 2.30 p.m. This could be a right good encounter as newly-promoted Malone came flying out of the starting blocks, winning their opening three games before coming a-cropper in their last two. They will be razor keen to return to winning ways but Buccaneers away form has been impressive and, if they field near to full strength and play to their collective potential, they can prevail.

Malone are a lively outfit who were runners-up at Dubarry Park in the IRFU Sevens last summer. No.8 Glenn Moore skippers the northerners and is their key forward while Ulster’s Niall O’Connor makes a huge difference when available at outhalf. Prop Jake Caulfield, lock Alan O’Connor and flanker Conor Joyce are upcoming young Ulster players. Taylor Acheson is an exciting fullback and Josh Pentland a decent centre while wing forward Neil Alcorn is hardy and mobile.

Buccs overcame Malone in their only previous AIL meeting when the Athlone club came out on top in a high-scoring and entertaining joust in Belfast. Tony Dolan was joint coach then as the midlanders made a successful late charge to secure promotion. The Pirates also defeated Malone in the only other meeting between the clubs when Buccs triumphed in the All-Ireland U-19 Cup final a couple of seasons ago. Many of those young Buccs — Daniel Qualter, Callum Boland, Jack Carty, Diarmuid Higgins, Barry Digby and possibly cousins Conor FitzGibbon and Robert Henshaw — could be in action on Saturday. GAA commitments rule out John O’Brien while skipper Kolo Kiripati’s availability remains doubtful. Nevertheless, Buccs can still field a decent side that will be competitive and enterprising so a cracking (and possibly high-scoring) contest is in prospect as both sides chase the win that would keep them right in the mix among the leading bunch.

BUCCANEERS U-21s face a daunting trip to face Cork Constitution at Temple Hill in the South-West Conference Section A League on Saturday, kick off 2.30 p.m. A decent performance and possibly a bonus point might be the best to expect there as the Munster outfit can select from a formidable panel.

THE DEVELOPMENT SQUAD also have a stiff test when they take on Castlebar in the Connacht Junior 1B League at Cloondeash on Sunday, kick off 2.30 p.m. The Mayo men defeated a very young and understrength Buccs outfit in the opening round of this league. With Buccs Seniors & U21s both away for hard games on Saturday, their Seconds could be weakened for this top of the table clash but some wily operators are now back in action so it is likely to be a finely balanced tussle this time.

BUCCANEERS WOMEN also face a tricky assignment away to Carrick-on-Shannon in the Connacht Womens League on Sunday. Kick off time to be confirmed later in the week. Meanwhile, the Thirds have no scheduled fixture and were left without a match last Sunday when Westport failed to travel for their rearranged Junior 2 League tie.



The numbers drawn in Buccaneers Lotto last Saturday were 7, 10, 19 & 20. The JACKPOT was not won so €10,000 is again up for grabs in next Saturday’s draw. Brian Murphy and Mark Kelly matched three numbers each to share €200. Thanks again to everyone who is supporting Buccaneers Lotto.



Heartfelt sympathy is extended to Mele and Kolo Kiripati and extended family on the tragic death last week in Sydney of Mele’s brother Faalau Pisu. Ar dheis De a anam.


Congrats to Mike McCarthy on marking his fifth Ireland Senior appearance with a ‘man of the match’ contribution in the narrow defeat to South Africa last Saturday.   


There will none of that Grey stuff on view at the annual Buccaneers Ladies Christmas Party when les girls “tease your senses” with a Red-themed night! A mulled wine reception (red, of course) will get the night off to a hot start at 8 pm and this will be followed by a three-course meal. Music will be provided by the wonderful Terry & Bianca Benson afterwards. Cover Charge is only €25. Sounds like a great night and real value, so please book with Geraldine at 086-1732711. Kindly bring a little Xmas gift (no more than €10 in value) so that Santa can distribute during the evening! Friends and guests also welcome to attend.


Connacht Emerging Talent squad named for game against Leinster North Midlands