Mike McCarthy in action for Connacht against Munster in 2012.

Darin Claasen and Mike McCarthy have been unveiled as the coaching duo in charge of Buccaneers as the Athlone club gears up for life in Division 1A of the Ulster Bank League.

Darin Claasen was assistant to Brett Wilkinson for the past two seasons and he replaces his fellow South African who has departed to Hong Kong, as head coach of the Pirates while retaining his role as backs coach.

In the first of those two seasons, Buccaneers reached the Ulster Bank League play-offs and also won the Connacht Senior League title. This past season the midlanders proved even more impressive, capturing a Connacht Senior League and Cup double while romping to the Division 1B title and promotion to the top flight.

The slick back-line work overseen by Claasen was a key factor in the progress of Buccs who topped the league’s try-scoring charts last season. A talented and versatile back, his first foray into club rugby in Ireland was with Castlebar and he then spent a lengthy period with Corinthians before joining Buccaneers.

He has SARFU levels 1 and 2 coaching and is also a personal trainer at Unique Fitness & Health in Athlone. He is married to a Clonown lady, Carol, and they have three daughters.

Mike McCarthy is another former Buccaneers player having played in 2003 while with Connacht whom he joined from Wasps. He departed to Newcastle Falcons the following season before returning to Connacht in 2007. The imposing lock/flanker played for England Under-21s but was Irish-qualified.

A late bloomer, McCarthy made his Ireland senior debut in 2011, winning 19 caps at Test level. He switched to Leinster two seasons ago and was due to move to top French club Narbonne this summer but injury brought his playing career to a premature end.

This is the 35-year-old’s first taste of coaching. He will be forwards coach at Dubarry Park where he will bring a wealth of experience and pedigree to his latest calling in rugby. Buccaneers begin training for the forthcoming season on Tuesday, July 18, ahead of the Ulster Bank League kick-off in early September.

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