GALWEGIANS continued their recent dominance over Buccaneers when they overcame the midlanders 20-9 in the semi-final of the Connacht Senior Cup in balmy sunny conditions at Dubarry Park, Athlone, on Saturday. Both sides fielded greatly changed lineups from their League encounter last month, Buccs making ten alterations and Wegians seven.


buccs2350The Pirates made the brighter start and forced the pace. Mark Abraham had three penalty kicks at the posts in the opening quarter, all from more or less the ten metre line. His only success was the second placekick with the other two both narrowly off-target. However, following the latter of these, he boomed over a super drop goal when he gathered the restart to put Buccs 6-0 ahead on 18 minutes.

But Galwegians began to get on top in the forwards exchanges and a fine drive after half an hour forced the homesters to concede a penalty, which was punted to touch on the left. From the lineout another impressive maul ensued and Paul Griffin applied the finishing touch for a 32nd minute try which Ross Shaughnessy converted. The visitors’ outhalf was short with a penalty just before halftime which arrived with Galwegians ahead by the minimum 7-6.

Three minutes after the restart, a thundering tackle by Billy Henshaw yielded a long range penalty which Abraham drilled over to edge Buccs back in front. However, within two minutes, Wegians had regained the lead when Shaughnessy converted a penalty following difficulties at scrumtime by the hosts. Wegians opted for a touch on the right with a 51st minute penalty and, following this lineout, they again rumbled over the home line for a try by Conor Muldoon. Shaughnessy added the conversion.

buccs1350Soon afterwards, Doran McHugh was deservedly yellow-carded for a late tackle. Abraham’s resultant penalty was off-target and the Pirates failed to make their temporary numerical superiority pay. Shaughnessy put the game beyond Buccs with a 69th minute penalty following a lineout infringement and it mattered little that he missed a penalty with the last kick of the match.

This was the most disappointing performance by Buccaneers to date. Other losses can be accounted for by severely depleted teams but, although the backline was understrength, the forwards should have been capable of faring better. Worryingly, the pack was under pressure in the set pieces from an early stage, particularly at scrummage time while overall support play and handling was not up to requirements despite the defiant endeavours of Henshaw, who was the best performer on view.

BUCCANEERS:-  H.Hughes; D.Byrne, B.Henshaw, A.Hayman (captain), D.Griffiths; M.Abraham, M.Dolan; M.Staunton, G.Halligan, P.Reilly; C.Kindregan, J.Tormey; S.Casey, D.Heffernan and L.Satchwell. Replacements:- D.Higgins (for Reilly, 35 mins), B.Teape (for Staunton, 35 mins), P.Reilly (for Higgins, 48 mins), R.Enraght-Moony (for Hayman, temp. 53/65 mins), R.Byrne (for Heffernan, 69 mins) and D.Heffernan (for Halligan, 72 mins).


GALWEGIANS:-  R.Keegan; C.Conroy, R.Moore, J.Harimate, D.Symes; R.Shaughnessy, M.Connolly; P.Griffin, R.Fitzgerald, J.East; A.Ryan, B.McClearn (captain); M.Towey, E.Earle and E.Rooney. Replacements:- B.Lee (for Connolly, 16 mins),  D.Clarke (for Keegan, h/t), J.Naughton (for Griffin, 46 mins), C.Muldoon (for Fitzgerald, 46 mins), D.McHugh (for East, 46 mins), R.Keegan (for Conroy, 70 mins), C.Conroy (for Moore, 77 mins) and P.Griffin (for Earle, temp).


REFEREE:- Glenn Sheridan.   




BUCCANEERS WOMENS team came out the wrong side of their All-Ireland League Division 2 Central League debut but they can take considerable pride and encouragement despite losing  11-10 to Rathdrum at windswept Dubarry Park, Athlone, on Sunday. Weather conditions were such a contrast to the preceding afternoon and the diagonal breeze dictated territory in this encounter which was contested with Cup tie fervour.


Buccs were short key performers including captain Niamh Ni Dhroma (training with the Ireland Elite Sevens squad), her predecessor Mele Kiripati (injured), Sharon Hynds (working abroad) and duo Sinead Taylor and Emma Treanor due to soccer commitments. So it was a much restructured side that lined out for the Athlone club with some players operating out of position and newcomers getting their first taste of competitive action.

buccs3350They also had to face the elements in the opening half and, consequently, were on the defensive for large swathes of it. But, as we have come to expect from this fledgling team, they played with typical fervour and commitment and the only time the visitors got a sight of the home line Tina Kiernan put in a crunching tackle. Centre Emer Phelan was outstanding in this period with Colette McSpadden and Sandra Griffin also comfortable at half back, new positions for all players. Rathdrum spurned a number of kickable penalties in quick succession approaching halftime but Maureen Dowling opened the scoring with the final kick of the half, a penalty after 46 minutes.

On the turnaround it was now Buccs who enjoyed good territory and a super McSpadden penalty that got every centimetre brought them within five metres of the visitors’ line. The homesters’ pressure steadily grew in intensity, particularly in the left corner, but when this sustained assault failed to breach the cover, the ball was eventually switched smartly crossfield where Aoife Corry finished off the good work for a 58th minute unconverted try.

A long kick ahead following a Buccs penalty that did not make touch caused discomfort for the Athlone girls resulting in a 70th minute penalty which outhalf Dowling slotted over to nose Rathdrum 6-5 ahead.  But Buccaneers maintained their resolve and endeavour to pile on further pressure although they found the Wicklow side’s defence as resilient as their own had been in the opening period. However, relentless pressure yielded a virtual replica of the first try with Corry again breaking through for her second unconverted try to take a 10-6 lead. With 43 minutes gone and less stoppages in the second half, it looked like the Pirates had snatched the spoils but, incredibly, a further nine minutes play ensued during which Pamela Maher got in for the decisive score, an unconverted try that gave Rathdrum a dramatic 11-10 victory.

buccs5350This was a gut-wrenching defeat for Buccaneers after a terrifically contested AIL debut in which two evenly matched teams displayed splendid spirit and will to win. A draw would, perhaps, have been the fairest of outcomes but Buccs will, nevertheless, benefit greatly from this game, which was also their first match of the season. Anne Marie Sleator was highly prominent in a stirring effort by the pack in which Elaine Conlon (captain on the day) and Lorna Stuart-Trainor also caught the eye in what was a rousing collective effort against more experienced opposition.

BUCCANEERS:-  L.McLoughlin; A.Corry, T.Kiernan, E.Phelan, N.Gough; C.McSpadden, S.Griffin; A.M.Sleator, C.Mannion, E.Conlon (captain); A.Kelleher, L.Stuart-Trainor; T.Finnerty, A.Kemmy and N.Egan. Replacements:- A.Taaffe, E.Ni Fhinn, K.Downey, B.Casserly and E.O’Neill.


RATHDRUM:-  A.O’Neill; E.Carroll, S.Brady, N.Olohan, P.Maher; M.Dowling, L.Cahill; N.O’Kelly, T.Jackson, S.Fox; S.Burch, A.Geoghegan; E.Fox, E.Ryan and K.Fennell. Replacements:- A.M.Burke, H.Fletcher, C.Phelan, S.Rattray and N.Ward.


REFEREE:- Emmet Dormer (Connacht).




BALLYHAUNIS kept it tight and simple to overcome Buccaneers Seconds 23-8 in the opening round of the Connacht Junior 1B League at Tooraree, Ballyhaunis, on Sunday. Conditions were wild and windy, better suited to the ten man game employed by the home side.


Buccs had first use of the elements but did not capitalise on it. They got sucked in to a forwards duel that was not in their best interests when getting the ball wide looked like it might profit it them better as evidenced by Mark Tormey’s try when the ball was moved smartly from the pack. David Fagan kicked a penalty but the eight points accumulated by Buccs in the first half was never going to be enough in the conditions. The match was messy at times and Ballyhaunis incurred two yellow cards, yet Buccs lacked the necessary guile and craft on this occasion.

Buccs displayed loads of endeavour but had no real leaders on this outing, and a lot of work needs to be put in on the training paddock over the coming weeks.

BUCCANEERS:-  G.Costello; M.Tormey, D.Griffiths (captain), P.Maxwell, G.Walsh; D.Fagan, N.Purcell; L.Doran, R.Grenham, D.Higgins; R.Byrne, S.Byrne; B.Fagan, N.Flynn and A.Hughes. Replacements:- T.Thompson, K.Grehan, C.O’Shea, S.Flynn and J.Lopez.



BUCCANEERS SECONDS have their first home league match of the season when they take on Corrib at Dubarry Park on Sunday in the Connacht Junior 1B League. These Buccs disappointed away to Ballyhaunis in their opening fixture and will be keen to atone on home ground. There is the nucleus of a decent side there with the likes of the Byrne brothers, Adrian Hughes and Liam Doran in the pack allayed to Dominic Griffiths, Nicky Purcell and David Fagan in the backline. A number of other players should be coming in to contention, possibly next weekend, when the Pirates must capitalise on home advantage. More guile will need to be shown than was displayed at Ballyhaunis but, if Buccs play to their strengths and not get bogged down in a one-dimensional game, then they can prevail. (Please note that due to the All-Ireland Football final that kick off time may be changed, so keep up to date on the club’s website).

BUCCANEERS WOMENS team, so desperately unlucky not to mark their All-Ireland League debut with a win, travel to Edenderry on Sunday for their Division 2 Central clash that has a 1 p.m. kick off. Had the Athlone girls been close to full strength, they would have overcome Rathdrum. Nevertheless, with so many players operating out of position as well as quite a number of debutants, Buccs gave a really good account of themselves. With that game under their collective belts, Buccaneers will be more organised and formidable on Sunday. They can always be counted on to give of their best to the very end and, with more self belief and a little luck, they can forge a win.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, Buccaneers U-20s are scheduled to play Naas in a friendly at Dubarry Park on Saturday. With Jude Lennon back from holidays, they will undoubtedly be more organised on this occasion.


Blessed by fabulous weather, Buccaneers second Family Day proved immensely successful with fun and games galore. Thank you to everyone who attended and, of course, special gratitude to those who organised all the activities throughout the day. buccs4680 


Gallery: HT minis – Ballinrobe, Ballyhaunis, Corinthians and Dunmore