BUCCS AWAY TO BELFAST HARLEQUINS

MICHAEL SILKE

BUCCANEERS square up to fourth-placed Belfast Harlequins in a crunch Ulster Bank League Division 1B encounter at Deramore Park, Belfast, on Saturday with the action kicking off at 2.30 p.m. Buccs are one berth above and three points ahead of the Ulster club on the league table so victory is vital for both outfits in this contest between two teams who have hit a rich vein of form at present.

The midlanders will travel with some optimism on the back of five successive victories. Now coached by Adam Larkin, Quins too will be confident as, like the Pirates, they have recovered from an indifferent start to also climb up the table. However, this is a “downtime” week for the provinces so both clubs could be short some key personnel. Buccs will definitely be missing Daniel Qualter (who is undergoing surgery this week on the shoulder that he injured against UCD) while Callum Boland sustained ligaments damage in the recent U-21 victory away to Shannon. Rory Byrne has been excellent at lock to date while Conor FitzGibbon is fit and raring to go again and these look the obvious replacements.

Harlequins form has been somewhat topsy turvy. They lost away to Bruff but then were pipped by only two points by leaders Ballynahinch but they recorded decent wins over Malone and Dublin University just as Buccs did. Stuart Olding is their key operator with the former Ireland U-20 a regular scorer at fly-half. He shares the place-kicking duties with another Ireland U-20 Michael Heaney who is his scrumhalf partner. Rory Scholes and Michael Allen are two other exciting prospects in their backline. Hooker Niall Annett and back five forward Michael Ferguson are two promising members of the northerners’ pack which is captained by experienced lock Gareth Rourke. Here the influence of prop Richard Lutton and openside flanker Lawrence Babe must be curbed. Thankfully, from a Pirates perspective, the Athlone men are unlikely to encounter the mammoth frame of Neil McComb on this occasion!

There is terrific team spirit and a willingness to work for each other currently in the Buccaneers camp. These are crucial elements in any team and will be nurtured by coach Tony Dolan and driven on by the experienced spine of skipper Kolo Kiripati, Garreth Halligan, Alex Hayman and James Tormey. Jack Carty, Mark Dolan, Martin Staunton, Peter Reilly and Luke Satchwell are just some of the young guns with bags of talent and potential, allayed to a positive attitude and solid workrate ethics. Billy Henshaw, Conor Finn, Diarmuid Higgins, Johannes Roets and Aidan Connaughton are others that the Pirates can count on to deliver.

A tough test and serious examination of Buccaneers credentials is surely on the cards in this southern suburb of Belfast on Saturday. But if Buccs verve and endeavour is matched by composure and discipline, then the Pirates can make a successful raid up north.

BUCCS U-21s home to UCC

For supporters unable to travel, then Buccaneers U-21s will welcome your support as they tackle University College, Cork, in the South-West Conference League. This Section A game takes place in Dubarry Park on Saturday. Kick off time is scheduled for 2.30 p.m. but (at time of writing) Buccs are awaiting a response from UCC to our request for a later kick off time. (Please check at club or on our website for updated information during the week.)

UCC presently lie in 5th place in the league standings with the midlanders a further five places adrift. However, Buccs have a game in hand and a home win on Saturday could elevate them above the Students. These young Pirates raided Shannon last time out to take the spoils with the last kick of a lively contest. If Buccaneers can reproduce their workrate and commitment, then they can account for College who must not be allowed to take advantage of any lapses of concentration.

BUCCANEERS DEVELOPMENT SQUAD entertain Corrib in the Connacht Junior 1B League at Dubarry Park on Sunday. This match doubles up as the Junior Plate match that was scheduled for the following week so there’s plenty to play for. Buccs, whose scheduled league match last weekend was deferred as Creggs had to play their Junior Cup fixture, must make home advantage count.

BUCCANEERS THIRDS have, at time of writing, no scheduled fixture. Their league game last weekend against Oughterard could not take place due to water-logged pitches and might possibly be rearranged for this coming weekend.

CONNACHT EAGLES British & Irish Cup game against Newport, due to be played at Dubarry Park last Saturday, was also postponed as the Welsh club was unable to travel due to the severe weather in the Principality.

HENSHAW JOINS McCARTHY IN IRELAND SQUAD

ROBBIE HENSHAW has been named in an extended Ireland Senior panel for a squad camp prior to the forthcoming RBS Six Nations Championship. He joins Mike McCarthy in the players named by coach Declan Kidney. It has been an incredible season to date for the Athlone teenager who was named Man of the Match in Connacht’s Heineken Cup win over Zebre on Friday. Henshaw is likely to feature for Ireland Wolfhounds against England Saxons in Galway Sportsground on Friday night, kick off 7.35 p.m. Carpe Diem, Robbie!

LOTTO

The numbers drawn in this week’s Buccaneers Lotto were 3, 12, 19 & 20. Jackpot is €2,600.   

U-21s fun fundraiser event!

BUCCANEERS U-21 players are holding a fun fundraiser in The Bounty on this Saturday night from 8.30 p.m. A BBQ at only €10 per person gets the proceedings under way before the real business and fun including Karaoke and Waxing begins. Any guys willing to be waxed, especially in this artic weather, deserve to gather whatever sponsorship they can, while it could well be worthwhile to sponsor some of these bravehearts to stop singing when the Karaoke gets into full swing! Whatever way you look at it, these enterprising young lads are worthy of support so come along and enjoy the craic. 

U-20 Six Nations in Athlone

In association with ELECTRIC IRELAND, IRELAND again play their U-20 Six Nations Championship matches in Dubarry Park, Athlone, this season. This year the two big powerhouses of European rugby provide the opposition. First up will be champions England on Friday, February 8th, while France arrive on Friday, March 8th. Tickets for these hugely-anticipated matches go on sale later this week. Meanwhile, Buccaneers RFC is hosting pre-match functions in The Bounty for both games with pre-match 3-course dinner at 5 p.m. on both occasions. Wine will also be served and patrons will have a reserved seat in the stand. All for just €40 per person which is really solid value. Cost per table of eight persons is €320 or only €600 for both games. Smaller groups can also be catered for. To confirm bookings, contact Geraldine at 086-1732711 or email [email protected]

Related

IRFU publishes return to rugby summary roadmap