BUCCANEERS, fielding a youthful and relatively inexperienced squad, came away empty-handed from their opening round of the Ulster Bank League visit to east Belfast where Malone recorded a 29-11 Division 1B victory at Gibson Park on Saturday.  Malone were deserved winners, albeit the margin flattered the home side somewhat as the luckless Pirates (who also sustained a number of injuries to key personnel) conceded a final move try in fine, sunny conditions.


Buccs Malone 2Buccaneers began with just five survivors from the corresponding fixture last season and included four AIL debutants in their starting XV, Conor Finn being the only Connacht notable available to them. Malone too gave youth its fling but backboned it with more seasoned operators including Ulster duo Connor Joyce and Alan O’Connor who had a major influence on the proceedings.

Buccs had the best early chance but Jonny Creighton put in a try-saving tackle into touch on Rory O’Connor at the home five-metre line after just five minutes. The ‘Cregagh Red Socks’ gradually dictated possession and territory and a thundering hit by James Tormey on Andrew Black stopped the massive tighthead prop in his tracks as he tried to breach the tryline. However, Malone opened the scoring after 16 minutes and it was a bad score to concede from the visitors’ point of view. Nothing seemed on with the Ulster side in possession inside the mildanders’ half and Josh Bingham tried a hopeful chip over the cover. Buccs had a number of players who should have dealt with it but each left it to the other and Andy Bryans capitalised on this hesitancy to latch on to the ball and run in unchallenged for a try on the left.

This cheap score unsettled Buccs for a spell and Alan Gaughan had an attempted clearance blocked down. Eight minutes later the outhalf had a penalty opportunity but his kick lacked conviction. However, Buccs hauled themselves back into the game when Rory O’Connor gained possession and the winger weaved his way past a couple of defenders from 30 metres to touch down in the right corner for a 26th minute try which Gaughan was unable to convert. Almost immediately, home fullback Bryans did not back himself in a good position and his drop kick was the wrong option.

Mark Dolan, who had a great joust with opposing scrumhalf Creighton, landed a cheeky drop goal after Joyce was caught offside to give Buccaneers the lead on the half hour mark. Two minutes later, Finn looked like grabbing a second Pirates try but the centre was caught by the busy Creighton ten metres out. A leg injury sustained earlier by the centre probably militated against the Ballinasloe man, who had often proved unstoppable in similar positions, and he was replaced by Conor FitzGibbon soon afterwards following a blood injury.

Two minutes before the break, Alex Hayman sustained an AC injury and as the skipper lay injured Malone made the most of their temporary numerical superiority to switch possession and eventually stretch Buccaneers with a series of snipes until Bryans had time to control a pass with his foot before cutting in for his second try, this time on the right. Josh Pentland missed both conversion attempts but, with the final kick of the half, the centre landed a penalty to put Malone 13-8 to the good at the break.

Ger O’Connor replaced his injured captain and Buccs introduced Evan Galvin for Paul Gallogly at halftime. A much altered backline now had the O’Connor cousins on the wings, Callum Boland and FitzGibbon in the centre, and Eoghan O’Reilly at fullback. Malone too commenced their rolling substitutions at this stage.  Pentland and Gaughan traded penalties in the opening ten minutes of the second half before the penalty count become a bit lop-sided against Buccaneers. Pentland edged Malone 19-11 ahead with a 55th minute placekick and Buccs had to again rejig their backline with Gaughan being forced off through injury and Rory O’Connor needing treatment. Conor Finn returned to the fray and Ger O’Connor moved to scrumhalf with Dolan switching to standoff.

Joyce had to be strong to stop a Buccs attack on 68 minutes, just before Pentland landed his fourth successful penalty. Joyce then went unpunished with a blatant off the ball block as Buccs chased a clever Ger O’Connor kick ahead. This proved to be the Pirates final chance of salvaging something from this encounter and Buccs were punished in the final move of the match when they dropped their guard to a home penalty which Creighton smartly tapped, enabling Michael Barker scoot in for a try on the right. Pentland’s fine touchline conversion completed the 29-11 home win.

Even allowing for a depleted squad, this was nevertheless a disappointing showing by a naïve Buccaneers, who lacked fluency and cohesion. The pack did not perform collectively while the backline too often endeavoured to get the ball wide much too quickly. Injuries of course disrupted the Athlone side’s plans. However, Buccaneers support play was not what it needed to be and two of the three tries conceded were very soft scores. Meanwhile, Malone were much more efficient and resourceful throughout and fully merited their win with abrasive flanker Joyce being man of the match.

BUCCANEERS:- C.Boland; R.O’Connor, C.Finn, A.Hayman (captain), E.O’Reilly; A.Gaughan, M.Dolan; M.Staunton, S.Delahunt, D.Higgins; J.O’Rourke, J.Tormey; P.Gallogly, K.Kiripati and L.Satchwell. Replacements:- C.FitzGibbon (for Finn, inj. 35 mins), G.O’Connor (for Hayman, inj. 38 mins), E.Galvin (for Gallogly, h/t), C.Finn (for G.O’Connor, 47 mins), G.O’Connor (for Gaughan, inj. 57 mins), C.Morrissey (for R.O’Connor, blood substitution 59/68 mins) and C.McGrath.


MALONE:- A.Bryans; M.Barker, J.Pentland, N.Brown, H.Harbinson; J.Bingham, J.Creighton; R.Kane, D.Maxwell, A.Black; A.O’Connor, C.Tipping; C.Joyce, J.Burns and B.Alexander. Replacements:- R.Campbell (for Harbinson, h/t), D.Cave (for Black, h/t), S.Kelly (for Bingham, 64 mins), R.Millar (for Tipping, 64 mins), A.Black (for Cave, 68 mins) and P.Eadie (for Alexander, 64 mins).


REFEREE:- Paul Haycock (IRFU). 



A couple of early scores and a fierce will-to-win proved invaluable to Loughrea as they somehow held on to defeat Buccaneers Seconds 15-12 in their Connacht Junior 1B clash at dry but cool Dubarry Park, Athlone, on Sunday.


An early penalty followed shortly afterwards by a try in the right corner gave Loughrea a platform to build on. Rory Grenham seemed to reply with a try for the hosts but, after some confusion and debate, a scrum was awarded to Buccs who failed to benefit from it. However, Buccs reduced the arrears to the minimum when Keith Grehan finished off good pressure to pop in at the posts for a try which David Fagan converted. Although playing against a noticeable breeze, Loughrea grabbed a second try just before half-time and a fine conversion gave them a promising 15-7 lead.

Buccs were much more purposeful on the resumption, although it took them some time to make real inroads into Loughrea territory. The westerners, now under increasing pressure, became indisciplined and had a lock yellow carded. He was just back on the pitch when their outhalf was sent to the sin bin. A Fagan penalty drifted wide and Buccs also failed to capitalise on an overlap just after the hour mark. They eventually breached the visitors’ line after a Loughrea flanker became the third visiting player to be yellow-carded! A 68th minute penalty was punted to touch on the left and, following the lineout, Buccs drove over for an unconverted try by Peadar Hennessy.

Buccaneers piled on huge pressure to the final whistle but found Loughrea in uncompromising humour and the doughty westerners held on for a hard-earned victory over their wasteful hosts. 

BUCCANEERS:-  M.Tormey; C.O’Reilly, B.Walsh, S.Flynn, J.Lopez; D.Fagan, G.Fallon; K.Grehan, R.Grenham, C.McGrath; R.Byrne, S.Byrne (captain); C.Morrissey, P.Hennessy and S.McCormack. Replacements:- T.Thompson (for McGrath, h/t), B.Campbell (for Grenham, h/t), N.Purcell (for Fallon, 70 mins) and G.Walsh (for Lopez, 70 mins).


REFEREE:- M.Collins (Connacht).


BUCCANEERS U-16s got their season off to a winning start on a scoreline of 27-14 against Ballinasloe at Moher Road on a very warm, sunny Saturday afternoon. Buccs were sluggish to get going and conceded two early tries to trail 14-12 at half-time.

However, they raised the tempo in the second half and, keeping the home side scoreless then, ran out comfortable winners. They scored five tries through Niall Murray (2), Ethan Rowe-McCormack, Atreo Obono and Donnachadh Gately.

BUCCANEERS:- Atreo Obono, Adam Murray, Robert Day, Ted Brosnan, Eoin Kenny, Aaron O’Reilly, Ethan Rowe-McCormack, Darren Touhy (captain), Max Feehan, Niall Murray, Eoin Minagh, Patrick Toland, Collins Obasety, Anthony Daly and David Gavin. Replacements used:- Inigo Gomez Loteo, Jack Nolan and Donnchadh Gately.


BUCCANEERS face a really stiff test for their first home fixture in this season’s Ulster Bank League when Garryowen come to Dubarry Park on Saturday afternoon for a much-anticipated Division 1B encounter, kicking off at 2.30 p.m. The match will be preceded by the club’s REGISTRATION DAY and, hopefully, many parents and underage players will stay on for the big game to which all U-16’s are admitted free when accompanied by an adult.

Buccs disappointed at Malone but can point to fielding many inexperienced players in a mainly young squad. Injuries to three key backs — Alex Hayman, Conor Finn and Alan Gaughan — further weakened and disrupted the side. Skipper Hayman is out for a number of weeks due to his shoulder injury but Gaughan will be itching to be involved against the Limerick he served for the past three seasons. Billy Henshaw, Jacob Walshe and Sam McCormack should be back to bolster the Pirates who would love to have Danny Qualter and Shane Layden also available. Both were rested by Connacht at the weekend and game time would, I believe, be invaluable to them at this early stage of the season.

Three times All-Ireland League champions Garryowen will not wish to dally in Division 1B for too long and they clearly signalled their intent with a comprehensive 21-3 victory over arch rivals Shannon in the opening round. Their back row trio of Barry O’Mahony, New Zealander Josh Hrstich and the massive Shane Buckley is their key line. All three are powerful and quick operators who will be sure to pose serious questions for Buccs. Skipper and hooker Ed Rossiter is joined in the front row by Connacht’s J.P.Cooney. Scrumhalf Neil Cronin is a brother of Ireland’s Sean while Lorcan Bourke is sure to be a threat at fullback.  

Buccs will need to be at their best for this enticing encounter. Luke Satchwell, Kolo Kiripati and Martin Staunton will have benefitted from the game at Malone as will debutants such as Shane Delahunt, Josh O’Rourke, Rory O’Connor and Paul Gallogly. With a sizeable home support and more cohesive and sustained collective effort, the Pirates can be counted on to make this a game to savour.

Pre-match function

There will be a pre-match function for the Buccaneers v Garryowen match. Cover charge is €30 per person for a 3-course meal + wine, matchday yearbook & seat in the Stand. Large or small groups catered for. Contact Geraldine at 0861732711 to book.

Other Fixtures


BUCCANEERS SECONDS bid to get back to winning ways when they make the short trip to Creggs for a Connacht Junior 1B derby on Sunday. Meanwhile, the THIRDS (whose match against Sligo had to be postponed) entertain their Galwegians counterparts in the Connacht Junior 1C League at Dubarry Park on Sunday. Both matches scheduled to kick off at 2.30 p.m. 


REGISTRATION DAY for all underage (Youths and Minis) players takes place in Dubarry Park on Saturday morning from 11 a.m. Every Youths or Minis player who pays his membership subscription (they can be included in Family Subscriptions) will receive a FREE Buccaneers shorts and socks. Registration will take place in The Lower Deck (downstairs at The Bounty, near the dressing-rooms area). And, remember, you are welcome to cheer on Buccs against Garryowen in the big match afterwards (children admitted free!).


Coaching for girls from U-12 down to U-6 commenced last Saturday and will continue on Saturday mornings from 11 a.m. This is a new initiative in the club and Buccaneers RFC is most grateful to the volunteers who are coaching and helping in this sector.

U-10/U-12 Coaches:- Yvonne O’Shea, Laura Hannon and Niamh Ni Dhroma.

U-6/U-9 Coaches:- Lisa McCormack, Nikki Fogarty and Joe Hurley.

So, girls, come along and ‘Give Rugby a Try!”.


Thank you to everyone who helped at or supported the recent pre-season Club BBQ and Junior Cert celebration Disco events.



Connacht Emerging Talent squad named for game against Leinster North Midlands