BUCCANEERS kicked off the new rugby season when they hosted Corinthians in the opening round of the Connacht Senior League at Dubarry Park, Athlone, on Friday night. Both teams took advantage to experiment in near perfect playing conditions with the Pirates deservedly taking the spoils on a 13-7 scoreline.

The visitors had the better of the early exchanges and came close to opening the scoring after 6 minutes but Philip Maher’s penalty kick rebounded off an upright. With a significant number of young players in their starting XV, Buccs took a little longer to find their rhythm but they soon grabbed the lead. Mark Dolan smartly tapped a penalty in midfield and the midlanders were soon attacking the Corinthians’ line where visiting winger Owen Daly was forced to carry the ball over and concede a five-metre scrum to the Athlone side. Buccs controlled the set-piece and lock James Tormey drove over for the first score of the season, a 14th minute try converted by Jack Feeney.

On a firm sod, the game was contested at a lively pace with play moving from end to end. Martin Staunton, Callum Boland and Josh O’Rourke showed solid defensive resilience to good effect before an Alan Gaughan off-load just failed to find fullback Boland as Buccs countered strongly on the westerners’ 22.

A decent spell of possession by the Galway side then stretched Buccs just before the half-hour mark and James Buckley shimmied in for a try which Maher converted to level the scores. The homesters then lost enterprising centre Gaughan, who was making his first appearance following his return to the Athlone club from Garryowen, to injury. This robbed Buccs of a significant threat in midfield but they almost regained the lead with the final action of a lively opening half; however, Feeney’s long-range penalty fell just short.

Corinthians were quickest out of the blocks in the second half too but Buccs settled down again to the task on hand. A good spell of home pressure was rewarded with a 62nd minute Feeney penalty. The debutant outhalf was just wide with an ambitious placekick moments later (a punt to touch may have been a better option here) before drilling over a 67th minute penalty to ease Buccs 13-7 ahead.

The tempo had now dropped and Corinthians were struggling to contain the Pirates, conceding penalties regularly, resulting in a yellow card to Christy Dyra. Buccs dominated for the remainder of the match, which they should have won more comfortably but Feeney was off-target with a further brace of penalties while a woeful Darin Classens clearance three minutes from time was not capitalised on as a gift try went a-begging.

Nevertheless, it was a promising win to start the season with and an opportunity taken to run the eye over some young contenders in the Buccaneers squad. O’Rourke, Jacob Walshe and Conor McGrath (all U-20s last season) caught the eye, Dolan and Boland did well, while Gaughan’s promise was curtailed by injury. Cian Dillane and Gary Warde offered most resistance for Corinthians.

BUCCANEERS:- C.Boland; E.O’Reilly, A.Gaughan, A.Hayman (captain), H.Hughes; J.Feeney, M.Dolan; J.Walshe, R.Grenham, S.Meunargia; R.Byrne, J.Tormey; J.O’Rourke, S.McCormack and M.Staunton. Replacements:- C.McGrath (for Grenham, 24 mins), D.Fagan (for Gaughan, inj. 31 mins), L.Satchwell (for Staunton, h/t), M.Staunton (for Meunargia, 52 mins), C.Morrissey (for McCormack, 66 mins) and N.Flynn (for O’Rourke, 70 mins).

GALWAY CORINTHIANS:- D.Griffin; D.Classens, J.Buckley (captain), C.Dillane, O.Daly; P.Maher, M.Murphy; A.Bane, A.Walsh, A.Glynn; K.Moran, G.Warde; A.Broderick, J.Merrigan and D.Phelan. Replacements:- C.Dyra (for Bane, h/t), J.Dever (for Glynn, 66 mins), A.Glynn (for Moran, 70 mins), C.Evans (for Buckley, inj. 72 mins), B.Dixon and K.Kilcoyne.

REFEREE:- Brian Deehan (Connacht).


BUCCANEERS square up to Galwegians next Saturday when the sides go head to head in the Connacht Senior League at Crowley Park. Kick off in Glenina is 2.30 p.m. and the midlanders will be hopeful of utilising other members of their squad in what will undoubtedly be a searching test.


With the Ireland Womens team winning a Six Nations Championship and reaching the World Cup semi-finals, interest in Womens rugby has never been higher. Buccaneers Womens team was formed just three year ago and will be playing in the Connacht League this season. Buccs Women are holding a WOMENS RUGBYOPEN NIGHT at Dubarry Park, Athlone, on Thursday, August 28th from 6.30 p.m. New players are welcome to come along as indeed are recent players who may have taken a break from the sport. No previous playing experience is necessary. Registration will take place on the night, so why not come along and “Give Rugby a Try!” Meanwhile, womens training continues on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7 p.m. sharp.


A start-of-season club BBQ takes place at The Bounty on Saturday, September 6th. Tickets now on sale so make it a date. Further details next week.


With the start of the season now imminent for all teams, Coaches are needed for a number of squads including Womens and Thirds while extra hands at the tiller are always welcome with the many underage teams. Paul Brosnan (Youths), Brian Tallon (Minis), Richie Hickey (Womens) and Micky Carroll (Adult) would be delighted to hear from you if you have some time and commitment to offer towards coaching.


Refereeing is another area where more help is generally needed. With so many teams now in the club, more and more match officials are required. Eddie Walsh would be pleased to meet any aspiring or potential referees. Meanwhile, a REFEREES COURSE is being held by Connacht at Galwegians RFC on Saturday, August 30th, under the tutelage of international referee Peter Fitzgibbon. This course is for both established and beginner referees. Registration on the day is from 10 a.m. with the course running from 10.30 a.m. until 4 p.m. Best of all, it is FREE and includes lunch!


REGISTRATION DAY for all underage (Youths and Minis) will take place in Dubarry Park on Saturday, September 20th from 11 a.m. Registration will be followed by Buccaneers first home Ulster Bank League game against Garryowen. You are invited to stay on and watch the match; remember, children U-16 accompanied by an adult are admitted FREE to all Buccaneers home fixtures!


Deepest sympathy is extended to the Sheehan and McKiernan families on the untimely passing of Anne Sheehan. Ar dheis De a anam. 


The Jes reach last four with last minute winner