Buccaneers 25-18 Corinthians

BUCCANEERS and Corinthians served up an all-Connacht Ulster Bank League Division 1B cracker at Dubarry Park, Athlone, on Friday with the home team coming out on top 25-18 to close the gap in the hunt for the play-off berth. Both teams went at it hammer and tongs from start to finish in a game of sustained tempo and commitment with some exhilarating rugby played before the Pirates prevailed. Weather and pitch conditions were perfect for this derby encounter and the players provided a wonderful advertisement for club rugby in front of a decent crowd including Connacht head coach Pat Lam.

Buccs made three changes from the side that impressed at Shannon. Daniel Qualter returned after injury at lock, Peter Reilly came into the front row while the more physical presence of Shane Layden started on the wing. The homesters continued as they had finished at Coonagh — on the offensive — and a wonderful early drive earned a fifth minute penalty which Jack Carty put wide of the far upright from just outside the 22. He then prudently punted for territory on the right soon afterwards when Buccs had numbers over, albeit in their own half, and the flyhalf was again involved in the action after 13 minutes when he was tackled late by Mark Byrne, who was duly sin-binned. Corinthians lost Aaron Conneely through injury at this stage and it got worse for the visitors after a quarter of an hour when, after Kolo Kiripati made ground, Buccaneers went through the phases with Luke Satchwell and Mark Dolan prominent before the latter showed a brave eye for an opening to scoot in for a try which Carty converted to put Buccs 7-0 ahead.

But Corinthians showed tremendous character to notch ten points in reply whilst numerically depleted. Miah Nikora opened their account with a 19th minute penalty and four minutes later made a break that was carried on by Cian Begley and finished strongly by Finn Gormley, who held off Layden’s challenge to get over the home line for a try which Nikora converted. Conor Kindregan was injured in the lead up and was replaced for Buccs by Mata Fifita. The pace was lively and the hits were hard as a buoyed up Corinthians endeavoured to now get a grip on the proceedings but Steve Macauley tidied up a break by Marcus Walsh while Layden made a telling tackle on Conor Murphy after the westerners had punted a penalty to touch on the right. Another penalty shortly afterwards was kicked to the left but again Corinthians were unable to capitalise in the face of relentless tackling by the Athlone side.

Buccaneers responded with Dolan sending Layden steaming forward from just inside his own half and his pass sent Conor Finn scampering down the left for a 35th minute try which Carty could not convert but Buccs were back into the lead. As the game flowed from end to end, Carty did not deal with a Nikora kick ahead but Walsh could not prosper from this chance before the home standoff redeemed himself by making a decent clearance. Nikora had the final opportunity of a sometimes frenetic opening half but his drop goal attempt sailed wide and so Buccaneers led 12-10 at halftime.

Within a minute of the restart, Corinthians went offside and Carty slotted over a penalty for Buccs who then brought on Billy Henshaw for the injured Dolan with Callum Boland moving to scrumhalf and Layden switching to fullback. With the tempo showing no signs of flagging, some exciting interplay by Buccs (and good advantage from the referee) on 50 minutes resulted in a wonderful try at the posts by Macauley. Carty’s conversion put Buccs in a promising position 22-10 to the good. David Panther erred for the Galway outfit when his penalty kick for touch went dead while Carty hit a real beauty from 45 metres after a Corinthians handling offence just before the hour mark. Nikora replied with a penalty from the ten metre line within five minutes while Carty was short almost immediately with a placekick. Further good interplay brought Buccs from their own 10 metre line to the visitors’ 22 where this promising move broke down and the midlanders had a let off on 72 minutes when Colin Rafferty intercepted just inside the home half but kicked wastefully ahead.

Corinthians showed their mettle with a late flurry, encouraged by the harsh 73rd minute yellow-carding of Buccs Jacob Walshe for perceived persistent infringing by the hosts. When fellow front row replacement Diarmuid Higgins joined him in the sin bin four minutes later after he collapsed a Corinthians maul, the visitors soon drove over for a try by the busy John Burns on the left with little over two minutes remaining. Nikora failed to convert and Buccs retained possession comfortably in the remaining time as they boldly endeavoured to fashion a dramatic late drop goal that would have sent the visitors’ home empty-handed. 

It was a thrilling encounter with Buccs shading the honours in a game, sponsored by Russell Brennan Keane, that they simply had to win. Finn was a worthy winner of the AUDI ATHLONE Man of the Match accolade in a well-balanced and sustained effort by the full home squad for whom James Tormey, Garreth Halligan and Fifita did well in the keen forwards exchanges. Alex Hayman put in a Trojan effort and Boland and Dolan were other backs to play well. Gormley, Nikora and Panther were the main threats in the visitors’ backline while Gary Warde, Burns and Ultan Dillane were best of their pack. After sustaining just one defeat up to this week, Corinthians have now suffered two reversals within six days but the late try that salvaged a losing bonus point could yet prove priceless for them. Meanwhile, Buccs continue to build momentum following three good wins in succession as well as displaying a fine return to the form of early season and thus an exciting run in is very much in prospect.

BUCCANEERS:-  C.Boland; S.Layden, C.Finn, A.Hayman (captain), S.Macauley; J.Carty, M.Dolan; M.Staunton, G.Halligan, P.Reilly; J.Tormey, D.Qualter; K.Kiripati, L.Satchwell and C.Kindregan. Replacements:- M.Fifita (for Kindregan, inj. 23 mins), B.Henshaw (for Dolan, inj. 46 mins), D.Higgins (for Reilly, 52 mins),  M.Dolan (for Macauley, 56 mins), J.Walshe (for Staunton, 58 mins), E.O’Reilly (for Dolan, 70 mins) and M.Staunton (for Tormey, inj. 73 mins).

CORINTHIANS:-  D.Panther; B.Dixon, F.Gormley (captain), C.Begley, C.Murphy; M.Nikora, M.Walsh; M.Byrne, J.Merrigan, F.Bealham; U.Dillane, G.Warde; D.Phelan, J.Burns and A.Conneely. Replacements:- C.Rafferty (for Conneely, inj. 9 mins), D.Claasens (for Murphy, 65 mins) and C.Murphy (for Dixon, 70 mins).

REFEREE:- Peter Fitzgibbon (IRFU).


BUCCANEERS THIRDS and Connemara Seconds served up a full-blooded Connacht J2 League semi-final at the Monastery Field, Clifden, on Sunday before the midlanders progressed to the final on a 24-19 scoreline.  This was a tight, hard contest, played with Cup-like fervour but Buccs were not to be caught napping on a return visit to this western rugby outpost.

Assisted by the Atlantic breeze, Connemara made the early running to lead 6-0 following two successful penalty kicks. But a whole-hearted and honest effort by the Pirates saw them edge 7-6 ahead before halftime with Brian Teape marking his return after a lengthy injury to power over for a try which Glen Costello converted.

Buccs kicked on following the change of ends with tries by Costello (ably deputising for elder injured sibling Darren) and Keith Grehan. The Blacks responded to take a 19-17 lead while a seemingly good try by Jack O’Connor was not allowed for the visitors, who also squandered some placekick opportunities. But Buccs showed the resilience and belief in this particular squad and they regained their momentum with Peadar Hennessy breaking home hearts with a fine try which Costello converted to complete a close 24-19 victory that, overall, was justified.

Buccaneers front row provided a match-winning platform with the outstanding Teape, Grehan, Martin Lyons and replacement Conor Galvin all making key contributions. Young Hennessy at No.8 also was a major influence. Scrumhalf Nicky Purcell skippered the team with aplomb while another rookie O’Connor performed commendably in the centre as Buccs advanced to face Corinthians in a repeat of last season’s decider.

BUCCANEERS:-  M.Tormey; R.Sweeney, J.O’Connor, J.Shaughnessy, G.Fallon; G.Costello, N.Purcell (captain); B.Teape, M.Lyons, K.Grehan; G.Glynn, V.McGrath; N.Hyland, K.Kennedy and P.Hennessy. Replacement:- C.Galvin (for Lyons).


A tale of two teams for Buccaneers as the U-14 Sharks chew through Galwegians

but the U-14 Tigers get mauled by NUIG

By Brian Tallon


For this encounter Buccaneers Sharks were facing Galwegians in the first round of the Connacht Cup and it was a welcome sight to see pitches free from surface water allowing for good open rugby and neither team disappointed. The Buccs Sharks proved the superior force on a 25-7 winning margin.

The opening try went to Buccaneers after they won a scrum just inside the Galwegians 22. Buccs moved the ball quickly across their lines with good hands from scrum-half Shane Coughlan and out-half Tadhg Moody getting the better of the Wegians defence with two Buccs players over on the left side where centre Rory Dempsey was unchallenged as he crossed the line in the corner. Coughlan was presented with a difficult conversion kick and his attempt fell short of the mark.

For most of the first half both sides seemed evenly matched with much of the play moving between the 22’s and turnover ball changing possession several times over the next 15 minutes. Searching kicks from both full backs were aplenty with equally good returning ball. Mathias O’Neill took a heavy knock and was replaced by Paddy Ryan who switched with Robert Kelly into second row and Kelly to flanker. Buccs had the better of the possession and it paid off just before half time when they worked up close to the Galwegians five metre line where Cathal O’Grady was stopped just short only to recycle and have Liam Winnet get the better of the home defenders to crash through for Buccs second try close to the posts. The kick was easier and surer this time from Coughlan who converted successfully, giving Buccs a 12-0 lead at the interval.

Buccaneers were to stretch their advantage to 17-0 early in the second half when Dempsey made a break from the 22 giving the ball out to Ciaran Sugrue who offloaded to Adam Murtagh on the wing and there was no defensive cover to stop him going over for an unconverted try in the corner.

Galwegians got their only try of the game not long after the restart when a long pass from Coughlan in open play was intercepted by the blues flyhalf who ran through two tackles to cross the line right between the posts making the conversion a sure thing and bringing them back into the game at 17-7 with 20 minutes left. The next score came from a penalty to Buccaneers after a high tackle just outside Galwegians 22 and Coughlan made sure of his three points. The Sharks kept the pressure on Galwegians who didn’t seem to have an answer and, when they touched the ball down in their own try zone after Buccs came close to scoring, the ensuing scrum on the five metre line set up No. 8 Winnet nicely to crash through for his second try of the day right beside the posts making life easier for Coughlan to convert his kick and close out the game 25-7 to Buccaneers.

Buccaneers Sharks:- 1. Cathal O’Grady, 2. Darren Browne, 3. James Downes 4. Robert Kelly 5. Liam Doyle 6. Mathias O’Neill  7. Fergus Galvin 8. Liam Winnet 9. Shane Coughlan 10. Tadgh Moody 11. Jeffery Corneilius 12. Dara Mulvhill 13. Rory Dempsey 14. Adam Murtagh 15. Ciaran Sugrue. Subs- Patrick Ryan (for M.O’Neill) & Mark Tallon (for D.Browne).



The second match of the day in the U-14 Connacht Plate saw Buccaneers Tigers face another Galway team – NUI Galway — and this match was like a reversal of the previous game with Buccaneers on the wrong end of the 24-5 final score.

The opening try came just five minutes in when NUIG’s very quick and nimble left winger ran through the Buccs defence to touch down in the corner. After a good period of play and phase rugby Buccs brought play into the NUIG half, but a loose ball in open play went straight into the hands of the grateful No.11 who wasn’t going to be caught as he ran half the pitch to score his second try. Their standoff found his kicking boots and landed the conversion to open the gap to 12-0. That was to be the last score of the half as both teams contested in the middle of the park with some great ball handling but not so good tackling by both sides, leading to periods of fine open play and turnover of possession, but no scores.

The second half saw most of the play with NUIG as they camped in Buccs half of the pitch. This pressure proved fruitful when their loosehead prop showed his mass and speed as he broke several tackles from the 22 to go over on the wing to leave the home team trailing 0-17.

Buccaneers rallied for a clawback and when No 11 for NUIG took the ball on the wing and looked clear for his third try, a superb defensive tackle by Tristan Buckley put him into touch. Buccaneers drove on from the lineout to bring play up to NUIG’s 22 and a great break by Chad Quinn supported by Robert Lowe looked certain to open the account for the young Tigers but they were stopped by good defensive tackling by NUIG and a relieving kick by the full back. Buccaneers kept on the pressure and got their reward when Buckley crossed on the right wing for Buccs only score of the day as the conversion was missed.

Moments later Buckley was to come to Buccaneers aid again, this time as he and Donagh Prendergast tracked across to deny a breakaway on the left wing by NUIG. Buccaneers had a scrum in their own half after several phases of rugby and a great break by Carl Doran at No.8 brought the play up towards half way and the Tigers looked to be advancing well. However, NUIG’s big No.1 was to put the nail in the coffin for Buccs though as he undid all the good work by charging through and breaking six tackles to score under the posts, leaving the conversion a certainty and the game over with five minutes left. Buccaneers weren’t to recover and the game closed out 24-5 to NUIG.

Buccaneers Tigers:- 1. Robert Lowe 2. Cian Daly 3. Cathal O’Brien 4. Keelan Connolly 5. Dara McManus 6. John Costello 7. Oisin Rock  8. Carl Doran 9. Kevin Maloney 10. Roan Byrne 11. Donagh Prendergast 12. Neil Clinton 13. Daniel Ennis 14. Chad Quinn 15. Tristan Buckley. Sub:- Dylan Cunningham (for C.Quinn).

Coaches Conor Galvin & Derry Fitzgerald. Manager John Doyle.





Buccaneers U-13s came up short against a well-drilled Sligo side in their Connacht Junior Cup quarter final on Sunday last. On a dry calm day Buccaneers battled until the bitter end but, despite dominating both territory and possession, they could not breach a stout Sligo defence played at Hamilton Park, Standhill, exiting on a 5-0 margin.

Both teams cancelled each other out in the opening period as they tested each other’s mettle in a white hot battle, particularly in the tight exchanges. Despite what the score line might portrait, this was a scintillating contest from beginning to end. The decisive score came after 10 minutes when Sligo’s big outside centre attacked right and brushed off a poor tackle. He then quickly changed direction cutting back against the grain and skipped in untouched on the left for a priceless try with the conversion dropping short. Buccs were to rue that momentary lapse as the 5-0 score line remained throughout.

Buccs response was quick and impressive, charging deep into Sligo territory only to find each wave of attack expertly resisted. Buccs best scoring chance of the half went a begging when the wrong option was taken a yard from the line resulting in a turnover and an opportunity for Sligo to relieve to pressure. Buccs were quickly back on the offensive but some critical mistakes cost them, dear much coming from the defensive pressure from Sligo. Buccs finisnhed the half strong but had no reward for their endeavours.

On the change of ends Buccs immediately pressurised Sligo into a knock on. Buccs attacked smartly off the base of the resulting scrum but again Sligo were up to the task, particularly their openside flanker who repeatedly snaffled out Buccs best chances. Despite the fact that Buccs effectively set up camp in the Sligo half of the field, they were unable to find the necessary line break they needed to get in behind the home defence. To their credit Buccs never say die attitude meant that they battled until the final whistle and gave Sligo a number of scares before the referee called time on this most entertaining joust.

Despite coming out the wrong side of the scoreline, this was Buccs most complete performance. They showed great heart, determination, fantastic commitment and no shortage of skill. It would be unfair to single out any individual performances such was the collective effort by everyone involved on the day. It was disappointing not to give everyone game time but due to the tight margins involved this was not possible.

BUCCANEERS:- Eabhan Slattery, Jack Martin, Conor Larkin, Darragh Murray, Shane Cunnane, Michael Byrne, Diarmuid McLoughlin, Chaz Alzoie, Dean Buckley, Evan Gallagher, Billy Dalton, Martin Fallon, Julian Devaney, Jack Scouler and Michael Lynch (captain), Replacements:- Shane Green,  Fergus O’Sullivan, Vicente Gaetani, Scott Ward, Jesse Middleton, Daniel Westman, Faolan Kennedy, Ruaidhri Campion, Eoin Slevin, Ethan Connolly, Kevin Horan and Jack Buckley.


BUCCANEERS face a hectic and challenging weekend of key fixtures with the Seniors playing in Dungannon and the U-20s contesting the quarter-final of the Fraser McMullan Cup in Dublin, both matches on Saturday, while the Seconds have home advantage in the Connacht Junior Plate semi-final on Sunday.

Buccs Senior side travel north to Stevenson Park (kick off 2.30 p.m.) with growing confidence following recent good results and, more importantly, a return to the enterprising and sustained rugby they displayed in the first third of the league. They scored a tremendous (and absolutely necessary) win over Corinthians last weekend but will need to repeat that effort and endeavour against struggling Dungannon, who must be respected on their neat ground in their dire need for points. The Ulster side have dodged the relegation bullet for the past couple of seasons but currently lie bottom of the table, seven points adrift of Dublin University. They have just two wins in the current campaign and have had to operate without most of their Ulster players including backs Craig Gilroy, Peter Nelson, Chris Farrell and Chris Cochrane for the majority of the season. Indeed their President Paul Magee played when the sides met at Dubarry Park where the Pirates ran out 50-7 winners. However, that was one of those days when everything clicked for Buccs and they can bet on a more formidable challenge from the northerners on this occasion. If Buccs guard against complacency and are not raided too heavily by Connacht, then they can pilage the spoils provided they are organised and disciplined.

U-20s in All-Ireland quarter-final

Meanwhile, BUCCANEERS U-20s are on the road once more (and if they win on Saturday, then they are on the bus yet again the following weekend to Cork or Greystones!) as they prepare for battle in the quarter-finals of the Fraser McMullan Cup. Buccs were initially drawn away to Lansdowne at Kilternan but the metropolitans were withdrawn “due to an irregularity” (although at time of writing they could yet appeal this decision) and it looks like a tilt against UCD in Belfield awaits these young Pirates.  With Lansdowne and UCD supplying the bulk of the Ireland U-20 squad between them, it will be a stiff test for Buccs regardless of which opposition they meet. However, this particular band of Buccaneers played with a swagger as they lost just one league match to date. They are not the biggest side physically but certainly won’t be found wanting in ambition or desire. They hope to have Saba Meunargia fit again after injury and Rory Moloney back from his Ireland U-20 exploits. Jacob Walshe, Cian Romaine, Sam McCormack, Eoghan O’Reilly and Ben Carty are other key contributors in this squad and coach Jude Lennon will be hoping that the Senior panel will not call on too many of them. If he can select his preferred squad, Buccs will put it up to whoever they are meeting. Keep an eye on the club’s website www.buccaneersrfc.com for information later in the week.

BUCCANEERS SECONDS are in action on Sunday when they take on Loughrea in the Connacht Junior Plate semi-final at Dubarry Park. Note kick off time is 2 p.m. Loughrea defeated Buccs when these sides met just a couple of weeks ago in their final league fixture, a win that meant the westerners finished just above the Athlone club in the league table. However, Buccs were somewhat below strength on that occasion in Loughrea. They are likely to be a bit stronger, more organised and focussed for this duel which could prove a very tight affair. Extra time could well be needed.    

BUCCANEERS WOMENS team will get some international experience when they take on Westchester Union College from USA in a friendly at Dubarry Park on Thursday night, kick off 8 p.m. (approx.!)   


CONGRATULATIONS to Ireland on a wonderful performance in Paris that clinched this season’s RBS Six Nations Championship. It was a splendid encounter that went right down to the final move. France were fired up for the first time in this campaign and got some breaks (first penalty and second try both being questionable) so when it came to a late forward pass or not, the nation waited with baited breathe for seemingly forever. But justice was done with the outcome and what a fitting way for BRIAN O’DRISCOLL to sign off on an absolutely magnificent and sustained career in the green jersey. He has been simply the best player, Irish or otherwise, that I have had the pleasure of watching, while his attitude on and off the pitch has been exemplary. Thank you, BOD! 

Well done too to RORY MOLONEY on his third cap for Ireland U-20s as they ran champions France close.

Congrats also to Lorna Stuart-Trainor of ‘A Room In Bloom’ on winning the ‘Floral Designer of the Year’ accolade at the recent Weddings Online Awards event in Clontarf Castle. 


Buccaneers Lotto Jackpot currently stands at €7,000. Wouldn’t that be a lovely prize before Mother’s Day?! Just €2 per entry. Draw takes place in The Bounty on Tuesday nights. Thanks to all who are supporting our Lotto.


BUCCANEERS U-14s have been busy on the playing fields with some success of late and they are holding a TABLE QUIZ in The Bounty on Thursday week, March 27th at 8.30 p.m. Entry is €40 per team of four. All support will be very much appreciated, particularly from parents and families of all underage players in the club. 



Mini-Rugby between Ballina RFC and Loughrea RFC