BUCCS FACE CORINTHIANS IN FRIDAY NIGHT SHOWDOWN

RUGBY with MICHAEL SILKE

BUCCANEERS square up to Connacht rivals in an Ulster Bank League showdown under the Dubarry Park, Athlone, floodlights on Friday night with this Division 1B game kicking off at 7.30 p.m. The sides played a thrilling encounter when they met in the first half of the league in Galway, a sizzling and sometimes controversial battle that went down to the final kick of the match. That penalty kick deep into a protracted period of added time gave Corinthians a 19-18 victory and Friday’s joust will surely be contested with equal intensity to the very end.

Second placed Corinthians lie eight points above third placed Buccs in the league table. With Terenure College all but crowned league winners, the two Connacht clubs are desperately chasing the runners-up berth and, with it, a promotion play-off fixture. U.L. Bohemian are still in the hunt too on equal points with the Athlone side while fifth-placed Shannon, who defeated Corinthians last Sunday, cannot be discounted either. Buccs simply must win Friday’s battle in what could be a cracking start to St. Patrick’s weekend. This match is sponsored by Russell Brennan Keane and that adds a link to this fixture as the visitors’ President is Declan Russell (son of Paddy, late of RBK).

Both teams have a spread of Connacht Development and Academy players in their ranks. The westerners will look to forwards No.8 Eoghan Masterson, props Denis Buckley (who was with Buccs for the two previous seasons) and Finlay Bealham and flanker Aaron Conneely to give them an advantage. Wily hooker Joey Merrigan and veteran Gary Warde will give it their all as will John Burns and James Connolly in the forwards exchanges.  David Panther and Marcus Walsh are two backs with some game time at Connacht although Micky Murphy might be a better option at scrumhalf than the latter. Fionn Gormley captains the squad and shares kicking duties with teenager Sean O’Hagan whose penalty from the touchline decided the November meeting between the clubs.

Early injuries disrupted Buccs on that occasion with three substitutions forced before halftime at which stage the midlanders led 11-0. They also incurred three yellow cards, two of them questionable, and of course there was some debate after that match regarding the referee’s directions in the dying moments to Buccs about the amount of time remaining. So the Pirates have sufficient stimulus to redress the balance on Friday night and Garreth Halligan, Kolo Kiripati, James Tormey and Alex Haymen will relish this opportunity to make amends. Martin Staunton, Peter Reilly and Diarmuid Higgins will be prepared for a tough grind in the front-row duels whileforwards Danny Qualter, Conor Kindregan, Mata Fifita and the very consistent Luke Satchwell will savour this joust. Sam McCormack and Jacob Walshe are two immensely promising U-20 forwards who could also be involved in the pack for this ‘Connacht derby’.

In the backline Jack Carty must dictate the thrust of this encounter and Mark Dolan can be counted on to provide neat and swift service. Conor Finn has been playing steadily of late and Shane Layden looks close to regaining the form he displayed for Ireland U-20s. Steve Macauley torments opponents when in possession and Callum Boland, Billy Henshaw and Eoghan O’Reilly are other home backs with an eye for a score as well as being able defenders.

Comparing recent performances, Buccs showed a distinct return to form when comfortably accounting for Shannon last time out while the Limerick side defeated Corinthians in a low-scoring affair last Sunday. Opposing coaches Tony Dolan and Phil Pretorious endeavour to get the best out of their charges while adding further spice to this match are their respective assistants Paul Flanagan and Pat Cunningham, who have both served time in the trenches for both clubs! Corinthians have been that bit more consistent in the league to date but Buccaneers, as demonstrated away to both Blackrock College and Shannon and home to Dungannon, have greater flair and potential that, if produced on Friday night, should ensure a home win that would tighten matters considerably in Chelthenham speak over the final furlongs of the season.

Ulster Bank League Division 1B

BUCCANEERS v CORINTHIANS

Dubarry Park, Athlone

Friday, March 14th; kick off 7.30 p.m.

There will be a pre-match function in The Bounty for this greatly anticipated match when supporters can enjoy a 3-course meal with wine + a seat in the Stand for just €30 per person. Contact Pat Hynes or our Administrator Geraldine at 0861732711 or by email to [email protected] to book. Large or small groups as well as individuals welcome.

LOUGHREA 16 BUCCANEERS 3

LOUGHREA proved too strong for Buccaneers Reserves winning 16-3 in their final Connacht Junior 1B League fixture of the season at the Co. Galway club’s grounds on Sunday. Victory for the westerners resulted in their leap-frogging Buccs to third place in the league table, the Athlone outfit now filling fourth berth.

BUCCANEERS 45   CLAREMORRIS 5

Following last week’s upset, Buccaneers Thirds were much more focussed and business-like when they took on Claremorris in the Connacht J2 League at Dubarry Park on Sunday when the Pirates won comfortably by 45-5 to secure a league semi-final play-off berth. Buccs were on the case from the start of this encounter and ran in seven tries in the process. They put in a vastly improved, all-round effort that the visitors simply could not match.

Martin Lyons excelled for Buccs and the hooker scored one of the homesters’s tries. Back rowers Peadar Hennessy and Nick Hyland were also in good form with the latter helping himself to a try also. Winger Mark Tormey was pick of the backline and scored a brace of touchdowns. Karl Turley and Darren Costello both played well too and each scored a try with the latter converting five of Buccs tries. Young Jack O’Connor completed the try haul.

BUCCANEERS:-  G.Costello; M.Tormey, J.Shaughnessy, K.Turley, J.O’Connor; D.Costello, G.Fallon; C.Galvin, M.Lyons, C.Hennessy; G.Glynn, V.McGrath; N.Hyland, K.Kennedy and P.Hennessy. Replacements:- A.Daly, C.Shanley, C.Milling and L.Didebashvili.

BEST OF LUCK

Best of luck is wished to Marist College in their Connacht Senior Schools Cup semi-final away to Garbally College in Ballinasloe on Tuesday, kick off 2 p.m. Garbally are flying this season and will be keen to dethrone the holders who will be spurred on by the dream of a “three in a row”. An exhilarating match is very much in prospect.

Meanwhile, good luck to Athlone Town F.C. on their return to the Premiership Division. It is such a pity that their first home fixture clashes with the visit of Corinthians to Dubarry Park.

Finally, here’s hoping that Ireland can fashion an RBS Six Nations Championship win away to France enabling the peerless Brian O’Driscoll to sign off on an absolutely outstanding and lengthy career on a winning note.

CONDOLENCES

Deepest sympathy is extended to Diarmuid Sloane and family on the death of his mother Maire. Ar dheis De a anam.

IMPORTANT DATES

Two important dates for your diaries are Fridays May 9th and 23rd when the Buccaneers Awards Night and Annual General Meeting will be taking place respectively in The Bounty.

U-13s SPONSORSHIP

Buccs13Spons

BUCCANEERS U-13 players and mentors wish to thank Diarmuid Morrissey of Direct Medical, Ian Scouler of Print Solutions and Darragh Byrne of Byrne Carolan Cunningham for recent sponsorship received. Eastern Electric, Smith’s Supervalu and Bob’s Barbers are also thanked for their support.

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