BUCCANEERS RESERVES progressed to the second round of the Heineken Connacht Junior Cup when they pipped Loughrea 19-17 in a tough encounter at bitterly cold Dubarry Park on Sunday. Buccs were the more fluent side but made life difficult for themselves through some indiscipline and a lifting of the collective pedal off the floor much too early in a typically earnest Cup tie.

The homesters fielded a good mixture of youth and experience and began at a lively tempo in the opening quarter. Their opening score, an eight minute try, was on the cards from very early in this contest and it was a very well taken score. Cormac Sheehy, playing at fullback on this occasion, gathered a Loughrea clearance on his own 10 metre line and made substantial inroads into the visitors’ territory before setting up Jimmy O’Connell for a fine try which Michael Donohoe converted. Home territory at this stage should really have yielded another score or two but gradually Loughrea got a toehold into the Buccs half although they could not capitalise on a couple of penalty opportunities while Adrian Hughes made one vital lineout catch and Darren Costello added a telling kick to touch to alleviate pressure.

But Loughrea’s endeavours were rewarded with a 33rd penalty by their outhalf after Buccs infringed at a scrum and he was then unlucky five minutes later when another penalty rebounded off an upright. In hindsight, this was a key let-off. Buccaneers lead at half-time lead of 7-3 was a lot tighter than looked early on. However they restarted in bright fashion but Costello was off-target with a 43rd minute penalty before a good forwards drive sucked in the Loughrea cover and Gavin Kelly and Kolo Kiripati made ground with ball in hand before setting up Cormac O’Keeffe for a well-taken 50th minute try which Donohoe converted.

This gave Buccs a decent 14-3 advantage and the game looked done and dusted. But the midlanders became complacent and two players were yellow carded in quick succession for slowing possession, Brendan McManus on 56 minutes and Kevin Creaven four minutes later. McManus was off for 13 minutes with Creaven an unfathomable 16 minutes (whilst acknowledging that it is ten minutes actual playing time that the referee is allowing for). This double whammy revitalised Loughrea and they promptly penned Buccs back. Buccs were naieve when awarded a scrum inside their own 22 by not putting Kiripati into the pack for the setpiece and Loughrea made their numerical supremacy pay by driving the hosts off their own ball and were shortly afterwards awarded a 63rd minute penalty try after Buccs were shoved back close to their own try line. Seven minutes later, the visitors’ No.8 got in for Loughrea’s second try, both of which were converted, to take a 17-14 lead at, seemingly, the crucial juncture of the game.

But Buccs reorganised and revitalised their collective effort as the clock ticked down. Kiripati showed his class on 75 minutes when he steamed through a number of tackles down the left flank before cutting in for a splendid try which Donohoe, surprisingly, failed to convert from a straight-forward position. The match ended in a welter of excitement as the contest threatened to boil over with Adrian Hughes being the third Buccs player to see yellow in the final exchanges while a Loughrea flanker incurred a straight red card in the same incident.

The adroit kicking of Costello was key to Buccaneers success and this young outhalf is capable of getting more out of the bags of ability and potential that he possesses. His halfback partner O’Keeffe also put in a decent shift as did Sheehy at fullback. Creaven was a constant thorn to Loughrea and two other young forwards Paul Galvin and David Burns were to the fore in lots of Buccs best efforts.

BUCCANEERS:-  C.Sheehy; M.Donohoe, G.Kelly, K.Kiripati, J.O’Connell; D.Costello, C.O’Keeffe; D.Kelly, D.Burns, L.Doran; B.McManus, Anthony Hughes; P.Galvin, K.Creaven and Adrian Hughes (captain). Replacements:- K.McIntyre (for O’Connell), D.Egan (for Burns) and D.Lennon (for Doran).

REFEREE:- P.Jennings. (Connacht).


BUCCANEERS U-21’s also enjoyed a bright start at home to Corinthians in their South-West Conference National League pool game at foggy Dubarry Park on Saturday when they prevailed by the narrowest of margins on a 18-17 scoreline.

Buccs applied virtually all the pressure in the opening quarter and opened the scoring with an Adam Kennedy penalty. Their effective picking and driving had Corinthians defending in depth but Shane O’Neill was soon crossing over for a try which Kennedy converted for a promising 10-0 advantage before Corinthians reduced their arrears with a penalty before halftime.

On the turnover, the visitors began to make inroads particularly when using their centres and they got in for a try on the left to tighten the margin. Buccs responded well and, after they made life difficult for the westerners at a scrum close to the visitors’ line, Robert Reid popped on to the loose ball to pilfer a try. Corinthians added three penalties before the finish but Kennedy’s second successful penalty proved decisive for Buccs for whom the tireless John Hayes, skipper Paul Robinson and young Reid (making his first start) all did well in the forwards battle. Ger Fallon was pick of the backline where Ian Coffey showed his potential when going forward and he will be a real prospect when he gains more experience with his defensive skills.

CORRECTION:- The gremlins got at last week’s report when Mark Fitzgibbon’s name was not included as the scorer of Buccs first try, which he secured after racing three-quarters the length of the pitch to touch down!

BUCCANEERS:- M.Fitzgibbon; G.Fallon, J.Byrne, C.Draper, I.Coffey; A.Kennedy, C.Molloy; D.Henshaw, D.Egan, T.Thompson; P.Robinson (captain), S.O’Neill; R.Reid, J.Hayes and K.Headd. Replacements used:- D.Kelly (for Egan) and R.Wakefield (for Reid).


BUCCANEERS THIRDS built on their promising showing at Tuam when they overcame midland rivals West Offaly Lions Seconds 11-7 in a lively Connacht J2 League tussle at frosty Dubarry Park on Saturday night.
Some of their players dashed back from Croke Park to participate and victory made it all worthwhile!

In a fairly open encounter, Gary O’Loughlin did well to finish off a try for the opening score for Buccs but the Lions responded to lead at the break, scoring a converted try. A Keith O’Neill penalty nosed Buccs back in front before Nigel So sealed the issue with a delightful drop goal. O’Loughlin and Ger Walsh were pick of the backline while Darragh Lennon and Kent McIntyre impressed most in the pack.

One minute’s silence was observed before this game as a mark of respect for Tuam player Gerard Vallely. The 25-year-old hooker played against Buccs on the previous Tuesday night and died unexpectedly the following day. Ar dheis De a anam.

BUCCANEERS:-  K.O’Neill; R.Silke, J.O’Shaughnessy, M.Kilduff, G.O’Loughlin; N.So, G.Walsh; D.Lennon, K.Grehan, G.Glynn; P.Hynes, M.Coleman; R.Byrne, S.Byrne and K.McIntyre. Replacements used:- A.Daly (for Glynn) and R.Curley (for S.Byrne). 


TUAM SECONDS and Buccaneers Thirds served up a high scoring and highly entertaining Connacht J2 League encounter at Garraun Park, Tuam, in which the home side won on a 31-22 scoreline. A good start proved decisive for the home side who led 19-0 before Buccs got on the scoreboard.

Odran McIntyre notched a try for the midlanders following a good break by Ger Fallon. The outhalf nabbed a second try following the change of ends and he landed one conversion. Sean Byrne and Adam Daly also grabbed tries for Buccs but they had left themselves too much to do, whilst they should have profited more from the good work of their forwards where the Byrne brothers Sean and Rory caught the eye. John O’Shaughnessy and evergreen Rory Silke were pick of the backs.

BUCCANEERS:-  K.O’Neill; R.Silke, J.O’Shaughnessy, M.Kilduff, T.Reilly; O.McIntyre, G.Fallon; R.Curley, A.Daly, R.Johnston; P.Hynes, G.Duffy; S.Byrne, R.Byrne and D.Lennon. Replacements used:- A.Hughes (for Hynes), M.Coleman (for Duffy), G.Glynn (for Curley) and G.O’Loughlin (for Reilly).


BUCCANEERS came away with an impressive 29-7 Connacht U-19 Cup success from the Castle Grounds, Monivea. Always an intimidating venue, Buccs grabbed early control of the proceedings and were 17-0 ahead at half time. Ethan Keena, Stephen Feery and Conor Greene all dotted down in that opening period. Brendan Fagan and John Maguire added second half tries against a weakened home squad with Jack Carty landing two conversions. Keena excelled at fullback while Carty, Maguire and Greene also did well in a sound backline unit. In a strong pack performance, Stephen Dowling, Fagan, Enda O’Brien and Feery all showed up well.

Buccaneers have a busy schedule ahead beginning with the U-19 Connacht League semi-final away to Galwegians on Sunday, kick off at 12 noon, so big turnout needing at regular Friday night training sessions from hereon.


Buccaneers Reserves are promptly back in Heineken Connacht Junior Cup action when they head northwest on Sunday to Hamilton Park, Strandhill, to take on Sligo who surprised Monivea 12-9 last weekend. This quarter-final joust will be a tough test of Buccs resolve and enterprise for Sligo have some decent players including James Wilson and Jason East although Niall O’Hara is apparently still an injury absentee. But the midlanders have some fine operators too, notably Gavin Kelly, Anthony Hughes, Darren Costello and Cormac O’Keeffe while Adrian Hughes is a passionate skipper who leads by example. This could be a cracking contest and, if Buccs young guns are not phased by the occasion, then they too are well capable of upsetting the odds. They will, however, need to maintain focus and discipline better than they did when overcoming Loughrea.

Buccaneers U-21’s travel to Tom Clifford Park, Limerick, on Saturday where they will undoubtedly receive a searching test from hosts Young Munster in their South-West Conference National League joust. Buccs Thirds play at home in Dubarry Park when they tackle Corinthians in the Connacht J2 League.

BUCCANEERS scheduled Connacht Senior Cup semi-final away to Galwegians has been deferred. They face Dungannon in Dubarry Park on Saturday week in a “must-win” AIB League game kicking off at 5 p.m.


Deepest sympathy is extended to the family of Gerard Vallely, and also to his clubmates at Tuam RFC., who died unexpectedly last Wednesday. Condolences also to Emmet Egan and family on the death at an early age of his father ‘Mickser’.


A Valentine’s Youth Disco takes place in ‘The Lower Deck’ at the Bounty on Thursday next, February 18th. This supervised alcohol-free Disco, for 15 and 16 year olds, is organised with the support of Athlone Gardai and the Athlone Drugs Awareness Group. DJ Paul Harte will again be laying down the sounds and admission is reserved. Tickets are now on sale at Musicworld and Buccaneers RFC is again indebted to Seamus Hayes and his staff for their on-going assistance re ticket sales.


Any members who have not bought and/or returned sold tickets for Buccaneers Car Draw should kindly do so as soon as possible. As this raffle is to fund expenses such as bus, pitch maintenance and kit costs, the support of all players at all age groups is essential to keep the show on the road!


A BIG “THANK YOU” to Senan Downes, Barry Reid and all the volunteers who, along with the support of ESB International, ensured that last Friday’s first round U-20 Six Nations Championship match against Italy was as successful off the pitch as it was on it. Tickets are now on sale at the usual outlets including the Bounty for the next two games which are likely to attract even bigger crowds. Ireland face Wales in Dubarry Park on Friday, March 12th and then finish off their campaign in Athlone against Scotland on March 19th. Early comers will get free “beanies” compliments of ESB. Incidentatlly, to book tables at the pre-match functions for these games, contact Geraldine at 086-1732711.  


MoMBuccsIRELAND made a winning start to this season’s U-20 Six Nations Championship campaign when they comprehensively defeated Italy 39-0 on a perfect night for rugby at well attended Dubarry Park, Athlone. It took the home nation some time to reflect their superiority on the scoreboard but, in reality, the result was never in doubt once the homesters opened the scoring with a James McKinney penalty after just 8 minutes.

Darren Hudson was to emerge the star of this showing and he demonstrated why at the end of the opening quarter. David O’Callaghan started a good home raid that was carried on very well by Dominic Ryan who was stopped short but Hudson popped up on the left flank to swoop on the ball for a striker’s try on 20 minutes. This ignited Ireland for their best spell of the half and Nevin Spence finished off good all-round work with a 33rd minute try. Their 13-0 lead, however, could have been greater at the break as they twice knocked on close to the visitors’ try line and McKinney landed just one successful kick from four.

But they promptly killed off the game with two quickfire tries on the restart, Simon Zebo doing well to apply the touchdown on the left on 42 minutes while Hudson finished some impressive interplay to dot down at the posts after 52 minutes. McKinney found the range with both conversions to stretch the lead to 27-0. Such was Ireland’s superiority that coach Allen Clarke could steadily unload his full bench as he strives to achieve the most potent XV.

Only once Italy came close to breaching the home cover when substitute Filippo Cazzola’s attempt to ground the ball was not allowed by the TMO. Meanwhile, Hudson capped his ‘ESB Man of the Match’ display when completing his hat-trick of tries on 78 minutes while, deep in added time, strong running by centre Brendan Macken yielded a super sixth try which Brian Kingston converted to complete the 39-0 rout.

IRELAND:-   A.Conway; D.Hudson, B.Macken, N.Spence, S.Zebo; J.McKinney, J.Cooney; B.Cagney, N.Annett, J.O’Connell; D.O’Callaghan, B.Marshall; R.Ruddock (captain), D.Ryan and P.Butler. Replacements:- R.O’Sullivan (for Ryan, inj. 43mins), E.Griffin (for Zebo, 57 mins), B.Kingston (for McKinney, 59 mins), D.Doyle (for Annett, 61 mins), S.Maguire (for O’Connell, 63 mins), B.Hayes (for O’Callaghan, 66 mins) and M.Heaney (for Cooney, 70 mins).

ITALY:-  R.Trevisan; G.Alberghini, T.Benvuti, S.Rodwell, G.Venditi; T.Iannone, E.Gori (captain); C.Fazzari, N.Corbanese, F.Pepoli; E.Targa, L.Santelli; N.Belardo, F.Ferrarini and G.Cicchinelli. Replacements:- F.Menon (for Benvenuti, h/t), A.Chillon (for Gori, h/t), A.Denti (for Pepoli, h/t), F.Cazzola (for Santelli, 57 mins) and E.Lubian (for Targa, 76 mins). 

REFEREE:-  L.Hodges. (Wales).


Energia All-Ireland League Round-Up: Buccaneers stay atop Division 1B, Sligo & Corinthians win