Lucky draw for Buccs
RUGBY – MICHAEL SILKE
NUIG  20  BUCCANEERS 20
BUCCANEERS were decidedly fortunate to survive a searching examination at Dangan, Galway, on Saturday where N.U.I.G. really put it up to the midlanders in a well contested Connacht U-21 Cup contest that ended all square on a 20-20 scoreline.
Buccs will point to a long list of injuries not helping their cause including the absence of some key personnel. This resulted in a relatively inexperienced squad, some of whom were playing out of position while others were stepping up a level. Consequently, they started very poorly and lacked structure in a difficult opening half on a cool afternoon. NUIG were helped by scoring an early converted try to settle their Cup nerves but the midlanders were level 10-10 at halftime. Callum Boland, who missed an early penalty kick, finished off the Pirates best spell of pressure when they went through a series of phases in the second quarter. He duly converted this try and also added a penalty before the break when Buccs could have been ahead when fine play set up a gilt-edged try opportunity in the last move of the opening period but the final pass was poorly executed.
NUIG nosed ahead early in the second half with a penalty but Boland showed his class and composure when reading an intended College pass inside his own half and he hared downfield where he showed strength in the tackle to force the touchdown for his and Buccs second try. With Shane Casey and Sean Wooton regularly wreaking havoc for the Students, NUIG regained the lead with a converted try following strong home pressure. But Buccaneers showed their mettle when it mattered most and this occasion they made their final play of the half pay when John Hayes crashed forward towards the NUIG line where he offloaded to the supporting Conal Gormley for a try to level the scores. Buccs should now have stolen the match but Boland’s kickable conversion rebounded off an upright and thus these two teams will have to meet again.
Although playing way out of position in the centre, skipper Hayes put in yet another tremendous effort for Buccs while the improving Kevin Naughton did well at full-back. Substitute Robert Corcoran stepped up to the mark at scrumhalf in his first appearance at this level. Prop Liam Doran played out of his skin in the front row where he received notable support from Enda O’Brien. Barry Stewart too had a fine outing.  
BUCCANEERS:-  K.Naughton; C.Greene, C.Gormley, J.Hayes (captain), E.Doolan; C.Boland, A.McArdle; L.Doran, E.O’Brien, D.Higgins; R.Byrne, K.Donnelly; D.Tierney, R.Wakefield and B.Stewart. Replacements used:- R.Corcoran (for McArdle) and T.Thompson (for Higgins).

BUCCANEERS 17 CONNEMARA 21
BUCCANEERS Development Squad exited out of the Connacht Junior Plate at the first hurdle when a spirited Connemara sprang a surprise, winning 21-17 at Dubarry Park, Athlone, on Sunday.
On paper, Buccs fielded a decent looking squad but the Blacks were more up for this encounter, spurred on by an early converted try. It was a fairly scrappy affair with scores being exchanged in a nip and tuck manner. Buccs were possibly not as focussed as they needed to be and their backline was perhaps not used sufficiently. As always, Adrian Hughes led like a true captain and contributed two decent tries to Buccs’ cause. Colin Draper landed one conversion and a penalty. Benny Gilligan and Eamonn Bracken too did their utmost in the forwards battle where Marcus Madden was surprisingly not utilised.
Returning after a lengthy injury, Sean Stapleton impressed in the centre while fullback Conor Lavelle and wing Terry Hynes always threatened in possession. But Connemara were well organised and very committed and just about deserved to edge the decision. Thus, a disappointing end to the season for this particular Buccaneers squad who maybe could have had a longer involvement in this competition. However, they can reflect on a magnificent league campaign which they won with a 100% record and tons of scores.
BUCCANEERS:- C.Lavelle; G.Walsh, D.Byrne, S.Stapleton,T.Hynes; L.Mitchell, C.Draper; E.Bracken, D.Lennon, B.Gilligan; G.Duffy, R.Byrne; H.Reilly, S.Bianco and Adrian Hughes (captain). Replacements used:- G.Bianco (for Lennon), E.Brady (for S.Bianco), S.Coyle (for Walsh) and E.Keena (for Mitchell).  
BUCCANEERS  13  TUAM 8
BUCCANEERS THIRDS gained quick revenge for their previous week’s defeat away to Tuam when they defeated the Co. Galway outfit 13-8 in their Connacht Junior 2A League battle at Dubarry Park on Monday night. This was a tight encounter and it took a very committed showing by the full Buccs squad on duty to edge the verdict.
Brian Moore got Buccs on the scoreboard when he finished off an impressive drive by the pack for a pushover try midway through the first half. Michael Donohoe was inconsistent with his placekicking but he gave Buccs a 8-0 halftime advantage when he slotted over a penalty. Tuam came back to level but the homesters had the final say when, after some fine picking and driving, Eddie Brady was on hand to help himself to a late, decisive try.
BUCCANEERS:- D.Costello; S.Coyle, P.Byrne (captain), J.Shaughnessy, R.Silke; M.Donohoe, D.Griffith; B.Moore, E.Brady, Alan Hughes; G.Glynn, M.Coleman; R.Byrne, S.Woods and M.Turley. Replacements used:- K.O’Neill, R.O’Brien and K.Grehan.
BUCCANEERS  6  CREGGS  26
BUCCANEERS THIRDS were also in action at home on Friday night but this Connacht Junior 2A encounter went awry at Dubarry Park where Creggs won 26-6. Although forced to make seven changes, Buccs bombarded the visitors in the opening quarter forcing Creggs to concede a huge amount of penalties. The visitors were more than a mite fortunate not to concede a score or indeed have anyone yellow-carded at this stage but they rode their luck and then punished the hosts for not translating territory and possession into scores.
Creggs grew in confidence and, despite a brace of Michael Donohoe penalties, they went on to a comfortable winning margin, helped by a pair of late tries as Buccs faded despite the best efforts of Michael O’Regan, Gerry Glynn and Ger Fallon.
This busy Buccs squad was also due to play away to Corinthians in the League at the weekend but, after travelling to Galway, they were quite disappointed that the home club was unable to field.
BUCCANEERS:- D.Costello; K.O’Neill, P.Byrne (captain), G.Fallon, R.Silke; M.Donohoe, D.Griffith; Alan Hughes, B.Moore, K.Grehan; G.Glynn, T.Couper; M.O’Regan, D.Tierney and S.Byrne. Replacements:- R.O’Brien, B.Walsh and S.Coyle.
FIXTURES
The only fixture scheduled at time of writing is a Connacht Junior 2A match in which Buccaneers Thirds travel to Creggs, possibly on this Wednesday night. Otherwise, this game is likely to be played on Sunday. Meanwhile, the Connacht U-21 Cup replay between Buccs and NUIG at Dubarry Park could be pencilled in for some time over the weekend.
CARTY MEATS SPONSOR U-21’s
Cartys564CARTY MEATS, ATHLONE, are thanked for their generous sponsorship of Buccaneers U-21 squad. This squad will undoubtedly provide the backbone of the club’s Senior squad in the not too distant future and already this season U-21’s Callum Boland, John O’Brien, Daniel Qualter, Jack Carty and Jarrod Bennett have featured regularly on the First XV. Speaking on behalf of the club, President Pat Hynes expressed “his and the club’s gratitude for the tangible support shown by CARTY MEATS. Clubs simply cannot operate without funding particularly in the present financial climate which made this sponsorship all the more significant.”
Ted Carty, on behalf of CARTY MEATS, said they were “delighted to support and encourage emerging young talent. This has enabled Buccaneers fielding two teams at U-21 level this season with both participating in the South-West Conference League where the more experienced side progressed to the knockout stages of the National League.”
The importance of Buccaneers being able to compete effectively in this key grade is reflected by the selection of Daniel Qualter on the Ireland U-20 team, with Jack Carty, Callum Boland and Dermot Tierney in the Ireland U-19 panel, Robert Henshaw in the Irish Schools squad and Conor FitzGibbon in contention for Ireland Youths, while John O’Brien played at fullback last weekend in Scotland on the successful Ulster Bank Club International team. Well done to all involved.
GOOD LUCK ST BRIGID’S
“Good luck” from all at Buccaneers to St. Brigid’s. Here’s wishing them a successful first appearance in the AIB Club Championship football final against Crossmaglen in Croke Park on St. Patrick’s Day.
IRELAND PLAY ENGLAND IN ATHLONE ON FRIDAY
IRELAND play England in the final ‘ESB Electric Ireland’ U-20 Six Nations Championship match under the Dubarry Park, Athlone, floodlights on this Friday night, kick off 7.45 p.m. (See separate article for full details). 

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