Michael  Silke


U19sFollowing a magnificent second half display, brilliant Buccaneers were crowned All-Ireland U-19 Cup kings when they comprehensively defeated gallant Malone 27-6 at Forenaughts, Naas, in a lively final in front of a large, vocal crowd on a sunny but cool afternoon. A firm, sloping pitch and especially the strong breeze blowing primarily straight down the pitch meant that both finalists had more than each other to contend with, but Buccs found all the right answers to run out clearcut and eminently worthy winners after a very sporting contest.

The Athlone club fielded along expected lines bolstered by no less than seven recent Ireland underage international players while Malone looked to their Ulster representatives to lead their bid. The northerners strength appeared to be in their pack with key men Zach Devine and skipper Johnny Ogilby in their back row. Buccs needed to at least manage parity in the forwards battle but the Belfast side had the assistance of the strong breeze in the opening half and, aided by a Timothy Durkan penalty when the Pirates infringed at a ruck after just two minutes, settled much quicker. They forced the early pace and enjoyed significant territory. However, they found the Buccs defence in resilient and organized form and the midlanders got an early scoring opportunity too but Jack Carty was unable to convert a tricky 5th minute penalty against the significant wind. Buccs had a rare mix-up in their defensive duties when failing to deal with a chip ahead on 19 minutes and Malone earned a kickable penalty that Durkan could not convert.

With the Buccaneers forwards now matching the challenges posed, their backs
gradually found their rhythm and began to make inroads into the opposition danger zone. Captain Carty’s line-kicking regularly pegged the northerners back and Barry Digby was getting smart ball away to a potent backs unit. Buccs best move to date saw possession moved to the right and then left, stretching the Ulster standard bearers and tempting Devine offside enabling them to draw level with a 28th minute Carty penalty.

However, Malone were back in front just five minutes later, outhalf Durkan landing a second penalty that was needlessly conceded. But Buccs pack had now found the measure of the Ulster boys and they opted for scrums at two penalties on the opposition 22 late in the half. From the second of these, Robert Henshaw made the key yardage and Conor FitzGibbon was on hand to dot down after Digby was stopped on the line. Standoff Carty added the conversion with the final kick of the half to edge Buccs 10-6 ahead which reflected their composed play in testing circumstances. It surely also deflated Malone at a vital psychological stage.

Two minutes into the second half, Eunan McBrearty contested a high ball from Malone to good effect and Henshaw sped possession to Carty who broke from his own ten metre line leaving a trail of Malone backs flailing in his wake as he scored a stunning try at the posts. It was a quite magnificent score, worthy of gracing any venue, and he duly converted to put the Athlone side, fielding a much more incisive back line, 17-6 ahead and in control of their destiny.

Buccs now poured forward to put some distance between the sides and Henshaw tried a chip over the cover when perhaps an off-load to the supporting Conor Seery would have been more beneficial. They came close to their opponents’ line on a number of occasions and Malone were not helped by the withdrawal through injury of influential flanker Devine. Buccs, nevertheless, maintained their momentum and following a sustained spell of pressure initiated by the deftest of reverse passes by Aidan Connaughton on the right, the impressive Henshaw was soon scampering in on the opposite flank for the midlanders’ third try 12 minutes into the second period.

The breeze now dropped noticeably but it mattered not a whit as Buccs more expansive style was shredding a Malone challenge that was really running out of steam. With their luck out, errors and gaps occurred in the wilting northerners’ defence and a dreadful tangle by substitutes Conor McGouran and Taylor Acheson following a long kick ahead gifted FitzGibbon his second and Buccs fourth try. This completed the scoring and, while fortuitous, it showed the benefit of hard graft and less fanciful play in the industry and energy in chasing up every cause, as Henshaw and FitzGibbon had done in this instance, but this merely reflected Buccaneers’ mix of endeavour and effort from start to finish.

Buccaneers, for whom Daniel Qualter and Carty were outstanding, steadily grew into this contest. They got better and better as it progressed, eliminated errors that had coughed a bit too much possession early on, and they simply had too much all round class and pace for Malone to cope with. Although the Belfast boys battled to the bitter end, especially Devine, Jay Malcolm and Ben Uprichard, Buccs richly deserved this national triumph on the back of this truly overall team performance. 

The core of this squad have been together since Minis rugby and great credit is due to their mentors who have been with them in the main down through the years. Well done to Tony Henshaw, Ronan Bushell, Davey Henshaw, Tom Farrell, Diarmuid Sloane, Charlie Couper & Co – and more latterly Hendrik Marnitz and Ciaran Joyce — on their unselfish labours in encouraging, nurturing and developing the positives of this talented young bunch of players who should ensure that Buccaneers rugby shines brightly into the future.

BUCCANEERS:- C.Boland; C.Seery, R.Henshaw, M.Corbett, C.FitzGibbon; J.Carty (captain), B.Digby; B.Teape, C.Hanniffy, D.Higgins; J.Dooley, E.Casey; E.McBrearty, A.Connaughton and D.Qualter. Replacements:- J.Donoghue (for Casey, inj.), G.Carey (for Higgins), A. McArdle (for McBrearty), C. O’Reilly (for Corbett), J. Maguire (for Seery), L.McLoughlin (for Donoghue) and R.Corcoran (for Digby).

MALONE:- P.Whelan; K.Martin, J.Malcolm, J.Martin, J.McMurtry; T.Durkan, B.Uprichard; S.Magill, A.McKenzie, F.Wilson; C.Davidson, L.Creighton; M.Dowds, Z.Devine and J.Ogilby (captain). Replacements used:- T.Acheson, J.Neill, C.McGouran, R.Taylor, S.Carse, B.Wort and D.Drysedale.

REFEREE:-  Brian McNiece. (IRFU).  


The end of season awards will be presented at a function in The Bounty on Friday week May 13th. ‘Player of the year’ awards will be made at the event to Seniors all the way down to Under-14 while presentations will also be made to Buccaneers players who represented Ireland during the season. Hot plate will be served, followed by live music after the presentations.

A new award for ‘Club Person of the year’ has been kindly donated by the family of the late Michael Hanley. This is, arguably, the top award in any club as it will surely go to someone who perhaps may not be in the limelight but, nevertheless, puts in consistent unselfish endeavour on the club’s behalf. The inaugural winner will be announced at the End of Season social. 

Tickets cost just 20 euro each for what should be a right good social night-out, so let’s see a big turnout at this event. Contact our administrator Geraldine at 086-1732711for your ticket requirements.


TAG RUGBY starts in Dubarry Park on Thursday, May 26th for a nine weeks period. Entries are invited from squads of 13 players consisting of both males and females. Mixed teams of 7 players, 3 of whom who must be female on pitch at all times. No rugby playing experience is necessary. Entry fee is 300 euro per squad which is a very keen price compared to charges elsewhere for this fast growing, non contact sport. That works out at little over 2 euro per player per night which is really good value. There will be entertainment laid on nightly. Email to [email protected] for further information.


BUCCANEERS SUMMER FASHION SHOW with Champagne Reception takes place in the Athlone Springs Hotel this Thursday night May 5th at 8 p.m. All the latest styles from Burgess, Athlone TownCentre and Dubarry will be modeled by Jennifer Maguire and her lovelies with a number of Buccaneers players parading the Mens styles! A range of complementary stands displaying accessories, handbags, and other products will be on view also. There will, of course, be a lovely prize for the ‘Most stylish lady’ on the night. Tickets can be purchased in advance at The Bounty or at the hotel on the night.


Congrats to Leo Galvin and P.J.Dwyer who both were selected recently on the U.C.D. team of the century!  Well done too to Galwegians who won the All-Ireland U-17 Cup in the game preceding Buccs success — a good afternoon for Connacht rugby!


A fund-raising match in aid of two charities takes place at Dubarry Park on this Saturday afternoon May 7th. Kick off is 3 p.m. The match will feature many of the Athlone U-18 team that won All-Ireland glory exactly ten years ago so Anthony Hughes, Marcus Madden, Brian Moore (the real ABBA), Sean Byrne & Co will hope to repeat the flair and power that they had all those years ago! They will face tougher opposition on this occasion, however, and tougher is the operative word with Craig Milling, Micky Carroll and Paul Hamilton masterminding!  It promises a bit of good fun and craic and, of course, two worthwhile charities will benefit from proceeds raised at the match and through a raffle in The Bounty afterwards. The two charities are Breast Cancer Awareness and Crumlin Childrens Hospital.


Tickets for the Club Draw should be returned to our Administrator as soon as possible. All players and mentors who have tickets should endeavour to sell them and get proceeds in forthwith.


Connacht Emerging Talent squad named for game against Leinster North Midlands