FULL HOUSE FOR BUCCANEERS AWARDS NIGHT

Michael Silke

THERE WAS A BUMPER TURNOUT of Buccaneers young and old for the club’s Awards Night at The Bounty when a plethora of awards were presented to five teams as well as numerous individual presentations to hordes of Pirates at a hugely successful and enjoyable function.

First team honoured on the night was the youngest squad, the current U-13 team who were presented with medals commemorating their match at the opening day of the Aviva Stadium last summer. Their Coach Paddy Kenny complimented them on the honour they brought to the club by their involvement on such a historic occasion. He hoped that many of these youngsters would again in the future play in front of such a big crowd of circa 30,000 spectators, something many others in the club may never experience.

The U-16 stars of the future were next up to the podium to be presented with their Connacht U-16 League medals. Coach Clem Higginbotham was full of praise for these young lads, who showed remarkable resilience to bounce back from a Cup final defeat to Westport the preceding week to defeat the Mayo club decisively in the League decider.

The big success story of the season in the club was Buccaneers U-19 All-Ireland Cup victory. After progressing out of Connacht, Buccs knocked out holders Waterpark in the semi-final and followed that up with an even more comprehensive 27-6 win over Malone from Belfast with an exhilarating all-round team display at Naas. Chairman of Football Tom Conlon did the honours here and he urged, in his own inimitable preacher style, these rising stars of the club to stay with Buccaneers. They are the future of the club and they will get game time, as evidenced by three U-19’s (Callum Boland, Jack Carty and Daniel Qualter) in the Senior team this season. This is a particularly talented group of players with no less than seven Ireland internationals in their ranks (Robert Henshaw, Conor FitzGibbon, Barry Digby and Diarmuid Higgins as well as the aforementioned trio).  

‘ABBA’ then made an appearance at the function; not the Swedish super-group but our very own Brian Moore (who many possibly don’t know by his real name!). He presented medals to members of the Development Squad who won the Connacht Junior 1B League with a 100% record. This was a tremendous achievement as this side were relegated last season and responded most positively.

Rounding off the team presentations, Connacht Senior League medals were presented by club President Pat Hynes to the players. Buccs may have endured a frustrating experience in the All-Ireland League but positive progress was made by a young panel. This was confirmed by the presence of the magnificent Connacht Senior League trophy which has returned to Dubarry Park for another season.

International Players Honoured

TEN BUCCANEERS players were selected on Ireland teams during the season including Sean Cronin, who now has 12 Senior caps. Connacht stalwarts Keith Matthews and Michael McCarthy got A caps. Specially commissioned Athlone Crystal Glass mementoes were presented to the following club players at the function:-

ROBERT HENSHAW    Ireland Schools U-18 (who won European championship)
CONOR FITZGIBBON    Ireland Clubs U-18
BARRY DIGBY        Ireland Clubs U-18
JACK CARTY        Ireland U-19
DIARMUID HIGGINS    Ireland U-19
DANIEL QUALTER    Ireland U-20
JOHN O’BRIEN    Ireland Club XV

JOHN O’BRIEN PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Exciting and richly talented young full back JOHN O’BRIEN was named the ‘Athlone Springs Hotel Buccaneers Senior Player of the year’. The Clifden lad, whose try scoring exploits helped greatly in securing his selection on the Ireland Club XV, was a really worthy winner of this much sought after award which capped a wonderful season for the unassuming player. Ms. Paula Doyle presented the Athlone Crystal Glass statuettes on behalf of the Athlone Springs Hotel to the five primary winners, as follows:-

SENIOR        JOHN O’BRIEN
DEVELOPMENT      HENRY REILLY
THIRDS        MICHAEL O’REGAN
U-21            JOHN HAYES
U-19            JACK CARTY

The ‘Player of the year’ awards was extended this year to cover all teams from Senior all the way down to U-13 and the other winners are:-

U-21B        GER FALLON
U-19B        RYAN BROWNE
U-17        KARL WALESCH
U-16        SEAN DOYLE
U-15        CONOR KENNY
U-14        PATRICK BROWNE
U-13        COLIN DALY

Incidentally three players were nominated from each team and there are medals for all runners-up. Some players may not have got these on the night so please call in to our Administator Geraldine Kenny at the club’s office in The Bounty to collect medal. Contact number is 086-1732711.

While covering the Player of the Year awards, Buccs had a number of winners at the recent Connacht Rugby Awards Night. Cousins ROBERT HENSHAW and CONOR FITZGIBBON won the U-18 Schools and U-18 Youths awards respectively while that too oft forgotten breed, the referees, saw DAVID CONNOLLY take the honours there. MARK DOLAN, formerly of this parish, won the U-20 award. Congratulations all.

The penultimate presentation on the night, made by Senior Manager CRAIG MILLING on behalf of all Buccaneers players, was a signed Buccaneers jersey which was presented to sterling servant of both the club and Connacht CONOR O’LOUGHLIN, who is retiring due to injury.

DAVID HENSHAW ‘CLUBMAN OF THE YEAR’.

And so to the final presentation at the function. The family of the late Michael Hanley have presented a new annual Cup commemorating Michael who “left us all at too young an age in body, but not in spirit, and that spirit lives on”. This Cup is presented to the ‘Buccaneers Club person of the Year’ and will, undoubtedly, be the most coveted award in the club each year. The inaugural winner is eminently worthy, having served the club for many seasons on the playing fields and now very involved in coaching at various levels for Buccaneers. An All-Ireland League winner with Garryowen and a Connacht regular, the winner is DAVID HENSHAW, who was presented with the very fine Cup by young Michael Hanley, junior, to rapturous applause.

For once, Davey was near speechless! But he spoke from the heart when accepting the trophy, which he guaranteed he would mind well. It could hardly have gone to a better home! He was deeply honoured and privileged to be the first recipient.

Club President Pat Hynes concluded the formalities, regaling the audience with a yarn or two about Micky Hanley. He congratulated Davey and all the other winners, both individual and team. He urged those present to stay involved and to encourage others to help out. He thanked the Athlone Springs Hotel for their title sponsorship and also those who organised the event. It was hugely encouraging to see such a wonderful turnout and he complimented the staff of The Bounty on the food and service at the Awards Night.

ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING

The A.G.M. of Buccaneers R.F.C. takes place in the club’s function room at The Bounty on Friday week, May 27th, beginning at 8 p.m. sharp. All welcome.

TAG RUGBY STARTS NEXT WEEK

There is a decent take up of entries to date with Entry Fee of 30 Euro being fairly good value when spread between 13 players for 9 weeks of matches. Log on to www.buccaneersrfc.com or email [email protected] for further details.

CONDOLENCES

Deepest sympathy is extended to Tommy Nee and family on the recent death of his brother Michael.    

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