BUCCANEERS SECONDS and Creggs served up a cracking Connacht Junior 1B League contest at sunny Dubarry Park, Athlone, on Sunday when the home side pipped their feisty neighbours 20-17 in a thriller. Creggs got off to a flying start before being over-hauled by the Pirates, who then had to defend desperately as the rejuvenated visitors battled to upset the form book in the closing stages.


Buccs made four changes in personnel for this derby encounter. Josh O’Rourke and James O’Donoghue replaced the Byrne brothers in the pack while Decie Byrne and Ger Fallon started in the backline instead of David Fagan and Nick Purcell. On a calm afternoon, pitch and weather conditions were near perfect for a game in which the hosts were anticipating a comfortable enough afternoon.

But derbies have a notorious casualty rate and Creggs were very unlucky not to cause a real upset. The Co. Galway side quickly signalled their intent and were rewarded with an early penalty, duly despatched by Ger Heneghan to open the scoring. Moments later they were 10-0 to the good, referee Emmet Dormer playing sound advantage enabling Dave Flahive to surge through for a try which Heneghan converted. This gave Creggs impetus and self-belief allayed to their undoubted competitiveness and it took the midlanders quite some time to come to terms with the opposition.

Jack Feeney landed a fine penalty midway through the opening half but then James Tormey was yellow-carded following a lineout infringement. A mazy run by Creggs Tom Donoghue almost unlocked the home defence before Buccs began to apply pressure coming up to half-time. However, they were already searching for tries, rather than avail of placekick opportunities. A quick tap and go was then followed by another penalty punted to the left corner where crossing following the lineout hampered the homesters’ progress. Both positions were in kickable range but, when a third penalty followed after a wild tackle on Keith Grehan, Feeney elected to kick and his penalty spliced the uprights with the final kick of the half that finished with Creggs 10-6 ahead.

Creggs started the second half in spritely manner too and Tormey had to put in two hefty tackles to slow their impetus before Buccs began to make inroads again. However, slow passing ruined a three-man overlap on the left after 47 minutes. The Athlone side now began to unload their stronger bench and their territorial dominance increased. They needed a slice of luck with their opening try, a Creggs knock-on being swooped on by Sean Flynn and the powerful centre barrelled through from the 22 for a 51st minute try at the posts. Feeney’s conversion put Buccs into a 13-10 lead and Creggs then had a let-off when Niall Flynn got a block on David Brandon’s attempted clearance but the westerners reacted quickest to avert this danger.

On the hour mark, Buccs again opted to punt an eminently kickable penalty to touch in the right corner but Creggs forced a relieving penalty following the lineout. However, Buccaneers pressure was rewarded when the visitors defence was stretched once too often and fullback Byrne was at the end of some snappy passing to dot down for a 65th minute try wide on the left. Feeney’s excellent touchline conversion put Buccs ahead by double scores 20-10 and the game was surely done and dusted.

Not so, thought the men from the West belying their lowly league position. Despite No.8 Kevin Brandon receiving ‘running repairs’, they retorted from the restart and fullback David Brandon made a searing break that left the home cover flailing for a wonderful 67th minute try which Heneghan did well to convert. 20-17 now the score and the game certainly back on.

It was nip and tuck from there to the finish before Creggs had one final chance to share the points but outhalf Heneghan’s penalty kick from the halfway line fell short and Buccs were mightily relieved to put the ball out for another tight win. Nevertheless, the Pirates still lead the pack but they can and must do better both collectively and individually. Perhaps there was an air of complacency but they lacked the verve and sparkle of earlier rounds. Rory Grenham, Paul Gallogly and O’Rourke were prominent in the forwards exchanges with Dom Griffiths, Sean Flynn and Feeney liveliest in the backs unit. Gaelic player Heneghan was a tidy operator at standoff for Creggs who had the best player on view in fullback David Brandon, who could certainly step up a level or two, while Kevin Brandon put in a serious shift in the pack.

BUCCANEERS:-  D.Byrne; D.Griffiths, B.Walsh, S.Flynn, J.Lopez; J.Feeney, G.Fallon; K.Grehan, R.Grenham, B.Campbell; J.Tormey, J.O’Rourke; S.McCormack, J.O’Donoghue and P.Gallogly. Replacements:- D.Fagan (for Lopez, 48 mins), N.Flynn (for McCormack, 48 mins), S.Byrne (captain, for O’Donoghue, 59 mins) and D.Lennon (for Grehan, 70 mins).


CREGGS:-  D.Brandon; S.Crehan, D.Flahive, T.Callaghan, A.Geraghty; G.Heneghan, C.Brandon; T.Fleming, M.Corcoran, P.McNeill; B.Donoghue, B.Kilcommons; M.Brandon, K.Ryan and K.Brandon. Replacements:- T.Canny (for M.Brandon, 30 mins), O.Kelly (for Corcoran, h/t), B.Egan (for Crehan, h/t), C.Duignan (for Flahive, 61 mins) and K.Rushe (for Fleming, 70 mins).


REFEREE:- Emmet Dormer (Connacht).




BUCCANEERS WOMENS team clinched their place in the final of the Connacht Womens Development League when they defeated fellow contenders N.U.I.Galway 24-6 at Dangan, Galway, on Sunday. The Buccs ladies were the better outfit overall and put in a magnificent second half effort to seal this vital victory.


Buccs made five changes from their previous fixture, their first loss in the league. Niamh Gough and Emma O’Brien started in the backline with Colette McSpadden available again to fill the key outhalf role. Aislinn Kelleher switched to the pack where Tina Kiernan and Lorna Stuart-Trainor returned, the latter in the front row. Katie Kilbane opened the scoring with an early penalty for NUIG. Buccs had scoring chances. Gough was held up when over the line at the end of the first quarter while Hazel Kilduff, operating at scrum-half, knocked on in the tackle on the home line. College led 3-0 after a low-scoring half despite lots of open play.

Buccs were a more purposeful and clinical outfit after the break and, having won possession from the restart, McSpadden promptly set them on their way with a 42nd minute try which she also converted. The Students replied with a second Kilbane penalty but the Buccettes were now the dominant force. Kilduff scored a smashing (literally) try just before the hour mark, colliding with an upright in applying the finishing touch. Sandra Griffin replaced the injured scrumhalf after McSpadden added the conversion.

Seven minutes later, slick running by the backs was finished off by O’Brien for a try and then, following good work by the pack following a penalty, Kelleher grounded the ball for Buccs fourth try to complete an impressive 24-6 victory.

This was a terrific all-round effort by Buccs, especially in the second half. All players contributed to this fine win but Mele Kiripati was outstanding. She received best support in the forwards exchanges from Kiernan and Emer Phelan while Michelle Reynolds and Fabienne Cooney stood out in a lively backs unit. This was the perfect response by the Pirates lasses and will set them up nicely for next Sunday’s final showdown against Castlebar.

BUCCANEERS:- M.Reynolds; N.Gough, E.O’Brien, F.Cooney, D.Farrell; C.McSpadden, H.Kilduff; T.Finnerty, M.Kiripati, L.Stuart-Trainor; K.Bradley, A.Kelleher; A.Kemmy, T.Kiernan and E.Phelan (captain). Replacements:- S.Griffin (for Kilduff, inj.), K.Downey (for Stuart-Trainor), B.Casserly and M.Balabon.




BUCCANEERS THIRDS, short far too many regulars, found the going tough as they went down 32-0 to N.U.I.Galway in their Connacht Division 1C League game at Dangan, Galway, on Sunday. Buccs were simply missing too many first choice players to compete against one of this division’s pace-setters but, to their credit, they battled manfully to the bitter end.


College led 22-0 by half-time, punishing Buccs for some mistakes and an understandable lack of organisation due to players being out of usual position and not familiar with each other. However, the Shannonsiders put in a much improved second half effort, eliminating errors and showing far better teamwork. Peadar Hennessy put in a trojan contribution and was very effective with ball in hand as was fellow backrower Martin Lyons. Michael O’Daly stood out at fullback and Ger Walsh was defiant in the centre while John Stapleton acquitted himself well on his seasonal debut.  

BUCCANEERS:- M.O’Daly; J.Stapleton, S.Chiatsu, G.Walsh, L.Didebashvili; N.Purcell (captain), B.Pears; K.Langdon, C.Hennessy, P.Rikadze; J.Shaughnessy, C.Shanley; C.Galvin, M.Lyons and P.Hennessy. Replacement:- T.Hynes.




BUCCANEERS welcome high-flying Ballymena to Dubarry Park for Saturday’s Ulster Bank League Division 1B game which kicks off at 2.30 p.m. Ballymena were relegated the season before last but promptly secured promotion back to 1B where they have been in the leading pack since the start of this season.


The Braidmen have a formidable pack, one of the biggest in the AIL, with a very competitive back row featuring Ulster duo Mike McComish and Clive Ross (brother of Ireland’s Mike) while Stephen Mulholland has been very consistent at No.8. Bryan Young, Dave Ryan and Adrian Kirkpatrick are very experienced front-rowers and Connor Smyth is solid at lock. Tim Small is proving immensely versatile in the northerners’ backline and also contributing a lot of scores. Sean Taylor and Paddy James are two more backs to keep an eye on although highly-rated scrumhalf David Shanahan looks like missing this game through injury.

Injury rules out Alan Gaughan and Diarmuid Higgins for the Pirates who will look for a more sustained team performance overall. Buccs’ inconsistency has been puzzling so far particularly at home but, if they hit the form they are capable of, then they have the potential to move further up the league table. This could be an acid test for the midlanders as they strive to keep in touch with the leading trio.  Decision-making and execution must be precise and more patience may be called for.

Ballymena made a bright start to the league including an away win over leaders Galwegians but lost twice recently to Malone and Garryowen before whipping Shannon (who had a player sent off in the opening ten minutes). The Ulster side lost last weekend, again to Malone in the Ulster Cup semi-final, and if Buccs play to their strengths, then they can fashion a win in what could well be a titanic tussle.



BUCCANEERS WOMEN renew their rivalry with Castlebar in the final of the Connacht Womens Development League which takes place in Ballyhaunis on Sunday. Precise details are not available at time of writing but kick off is likely to be at 2 p.m.


Both teams are worthy finalists, each having lost just one league match enroute to this decider. The Mayo side topped the league by a solitary point as both clubs lost just the away games against each other! So it is likely to be a very tight affair with little between the squads. However, Buccs responded in the best possible way to their recent loss in Castlebar by securing a convincing win in a tricky ‘must win’ assignment away to NUIG.

The Buccettes can always be counted on to give of their best and be committed to the very end. They have some doughty warriors in their pack, none more so than Mele Kiripati and Emer Phelan. Indeed, if the captain is more direct, she can be an enormous influence on the proceedings. Aislinn Kelleher, Tina Kiernan and Antoinette Kemmy are nippy forwards while Tracey Finnerty, Lorna Stuart-Trainor and Katie Bradley will not shirk the physical exchanges.

Despite the long-term absence of Niamh Ni Dhroma, there is still a potency in the backline where newcomers Fabienne Cooney, Deirdre Farrell and Emma O’Brien add pace and a footballing nous. Michelle Reynolds, Niamh Gough and Sandra Griffin are ever willing to make a break as is Colette McSpadden, whose place-kicking is also a real threat to the opposition. Hazel Kilduff will be hoping to be fit for this decider while Christine Mannion, Kathryn Downey, Blathnaid Casserly, Mairead Devaney, Donna Cromar, Maia Babalon, Kelley Hynes, Sharon Hynes, Michelle Jinks, Emer Connellan, Katie Henshaw and Gina Goldrick are others just itching to be involved. If the Buccaneers girls are not phased by the occasion and hit the form they are well capable of, then they may prove too hot to handle for the north-westerners in a final that will surely be a cracker. The Buccs girls are looking for your support for this big game and, remember, you can also catch the tailend of the Seconds game on the adjoining pitch, so make it a day inside the Mayo border!    

Other Fixtures


It will be all hands on deck for Buccaneers this weekend with all adult teams (and many underage sides) in competitive action. BUCCANEERS U-20s are home to Old Crescent in the Donal Walsh Cup (North section) on Saturday, kick off 2.30 p.m. Buccs have faltered in recent weeks, primarily due to injuries, but will hope to maintain their third spot in the league table when they square up to the Limerick outfit. Old Crescent lost their three opening fixtures, but arrive on the back of two wins including a notable defeat of Garryowen. If the Pirates can muster a stronger crew than in their past two outings, then they are capable of getting back to winning ways.

BUCCANEERS SECONDS, following their narrow squeak against Creggs, will surely be more focussed away to Ballyhaunis on Sunday when their Connacht Junior 1B League match starts at 2.30 p.m. Buccs forged a home win over the Mayo side, who lie in fourth place, but Ballyhaunis are still in contention and will prove dangerous adversaries on home soil. However, if Buccs apply themselves to this challenge, they have the wherewithal to prevail.   


BUCCANEERS THIRDS are also on the road, heading to Dunmore for a Connacht Junior 1C League clash that kicks off at 2.30 p.m. on Sunday. The Galway outfit came out on top of a low-scoring affair when the sides met earlier in the season and another dogged encounter is in prospect. This Buccs side’s resources are a bit stretched at the moment but their spirit is good, nevertheless, and they can spring a surprise.  




BUCCANEERS ‘nearly bare’ 2015 Calendar is a very fine production that is now on sale in some 20 outlets around Athlone or may be purchased via the club’s website www.buccaneersrfc.com

The suicide charity CONSOLE will get a share of the profits and at only €10 per calendar it makes a  very handy stocking filler. We ask all members to support this worthy cause.


The Buccaneers v Malone Ulster Bank League match at Dubarry Park on Saturday, December 20th has a 7.30 p.m. kick-off. There will be a pre-match function for this festive floodlit game. This will include 3-course dinner with wine, complimentary matchday programme and seat in the stand for just €30 per person. This could make an ideal pre-Christmas gathering and groups large or small can be catered for.

Contact our Administrator Geraldine Kenny at 0861732711 to book.


The Heineken Connacht Junior Cup draw will take place in the Olive Bar, Athlone. The poster may say 204 (sic) but it is on on this Wednesday night, December 3rd, 2014, at 7 p.m. All are welcome to attend.


Check the club’s website for details of Buccaneers Replica Jerseys and other items that may prove the ideal Christmas gifts for budding Robbie Henshaw’s and rugby fans in general. www.buccaneersrfc.com






The Jes reach last four with last minute winner