Jacob Walshe rumbles in for Buccaneers third try at Shannon960BUCCANEERS again set up a nervous finish for their supporters before overcoming Shannon 27-17 in their Ulster Bank League Division 1B match at Coonagh, Limerick, on Saturday. Three yellow cards in the final quarter meant that the Athlone side had to dig deep to defend their advantage as Shannon sensed snatching a possible unlikely victory from the jaws of defeat. The midlanders were leading 27-5 approaching the hour mark and looking like securing a bonus point victory before their endeavours began to unravel in a crazy ten minute period before they nailed down the hatches on the Pirates’ ship in the closing stages for a fully deserved win.  


Buccs made three changes, all enforced, from the fine win over Garryowen. Conor Finn returned at centre in place of Callum Boland, who was on GAA duty with Doon. In the pack, Garreth Halligan was unavailable with teenager Conor Morrissey making his first AIL start at hooker while another rookie Evan Galvin came in at wing forward for the injured Mata Fifita. Shannon had five changes from their narrow loss to Galwegians, the most notable being the returns of wing Greg O’Shea and skipper John Shine in the back row while Luke O’Dea was available for their bench.

Pitch and weather conditions were good for this encounter played in front of a decent attendance on a fine surface with a “bit of give”. Buccs had first advantage of a breeze from the city end straight down the pitch and they were promptly on the offensive with Shane Layden’s raid earning a penalty for ‘not releasing’ and Alan Gaughan duly opened the scoring with the placekick in the opening moments. The home restart failed to go ten metres and, at the resultant scrum, Shannon were in bother (a portent of things to come for them) but Gaughan missed this penalty. However, the home side strayed offside on six minutes and the outhalf put Buccs 6-0 ahead.

But, from a lineout four minutes later, Shannon made headway and O’Shea somehow wriggled free to notch an unconverted try that left a couple of Buccaneers defenders with red faces. Jacob Walshe almost forced a gap shortly afterwards, just before Layden again and Finn had snipes that set up Gaughan in a promising position and the fly-half showed good strength and desire to surge over for a 15th minute try which he also converted.

Three minutes later, he was hindered in the air when jumping for a garryowen but, following his penalty to touch on the left, Shine intercepted to make serious ground before being stopped. After 23 minutes, Conor FitzGibbon dealt with a David O’Donovan grubber kick and then he regained possession to set Rory O’Connor scampering from his own half past a couple of tacklers for an excellently-taken try which Gaughan converted to stretch Buccs lead to 20-5.

It was nip and tuck for the remainder of the opening half with Rory O’Connor doing just enough to shunt O’Shea into touch and then James Tormey (who had flown in from USA that morning) turned over possession inside his own 22. Layden made another darting break on the left before FitzGibbon’s tackle stopped Geoff Ryan’s attack in its tracks while, with the final kick of the half, Gaughan missed a kickable penalty.

Buccs half-time advantage gave them room to manoeuvre against the elements but they took the game to Shannon from the restart and piled on increasing pressure after the change of ends with Layden again and Mark Dolan testing the resolve of the defence close to the home line. Shannon somehow survived this sustained spell and looked to have rode out the danger when O’Donovan hoofed the ball downfield after 46 minutes. However, Eoghan O’Reilly fastened onto possession and created mayhem in the home defence with a mesmerising run before popping a delightful pass to Walshe and the prop was just not going to be stopped. Gaughan kicked a smashing conversion from the left touchline to extend Buccaneers lead to a healthy 27-5.

Gaughan was injured in this period and was replaced by Ger O’Connor, who came on at scrumhalf with Dolan switching to stand-off. With both sides now ringing the changes, Buccs were not as efficient as they had been earlier while Shannon rallied following Shine’s 56th minute pushover try which Tadhg Bennett converted despite Rory O’Connor getting a hand to the ball.  

Although Shannon had conceded seemingly more penalties than the visitors in the opening hour, Luke Satchwell incurred the first yellow card of the game for an offside infringement on 61 minutes. Four minutes later, Kolo Kiripati was sin-binned for a wild tackle on O’Dea and, suddenly, matters were not so comfortable for the Pirates. Soon afterwards, Shannon punted a penalty to the right corner and, after securing lineout possession, they were awarded a 66th minute Liam Cronin pushover try (which from my position adjacent to the action was grounded short of the whitewash!). Bennett was unable to convert from close to the touchline.

In the closing moments, Layden was caught in possession and had strong claims for a relieving penalty but Scott Flanagan (on the pitch a mere six minutes) then slowed possession. The substitute hooker became the third Bucc to visit the sin-bin but the usually reliable Bennett missed the straight-forward penalty kick that would have earned Shannon the consolation of a losing bonus point as Buccaneers then closed out the game for a 27-17 victory.

Buccs will reflect that they too missed out on a bonus point as a fourth try looked there for the taking approaching the three-quarters stage. Nevertheless, a third successive win over Shannon is a notable turnaround in fortunes between the clubs. Buccs were the much better outfit on the day and, with a bit more guile and control, would surely have won more readily. They lost their structure and composure somewhat midway through the second half but they maintained their strong work ethic and commitment to the very end protecting their precious advantage. Props Walshe and Diarmuid Higgins were the pick of the forwards with notable support from Tormey. Fullback Layden has recovered verve and swagger in his play and was a constant threat in possession while Gaughan dictated tempo and direction until injured. The two Conors in the centre – FitzGibbon and Finn – were very solid throughout. O’Shea and substitute O’Dea were the danger men in a Shannon squad undergoing transition with flanker Shine pick of their pack.

SHANNON:-   D.O’Donovan; M.Leonard, S.McNamara, W.Leonard, G.O’Shea; T.Bennett, G.Ryan; D.O’Connell, S.Malone, A.O’Brien; P.Kearns, R.O’Donnell; A.Butler, J.Shine (captain) and L.Nicholas. Replacements:- L.Cronin (for O’Brien, h/t), J.Cronan (for Malone, h/t), L.O’Dea (for M.Leonard, 47 mins), J.Cullen (for Ryan, 47 mins), F.Bradshaw-Ryan (for O’Donnell, 52 mins) and A.O’Brien (for Cronin, 65 mins).


BUCCANEERS:-  S.Layden; R.O’Connor, C.Finn, C.FitzGibbon, E.O’Reilly; A.Gaughan, M.Dolan (captain); J.Walshe, C.Morrissey, D.Higgins; J.Tormey, J.O’Rourke; E.Galvin, K.Kiripati and L.Satchwell. Replacements:- G.O’Connor (for Gaughan, inj. 48 mins), S.McCormack (for Galvin, 52 mins), B.Henshaw (for R.O’Connor, 57 mins), M.Staunton (for Walshe, inj. 62 mins) and S.Flanagan (for Morrissey, 73 mins).







BUCCANEERS THIRDS endured another tough 80 minutes when losing 36-8 to Sligo Seconds in the Connacht Junior 1C League at Hamilton Park, Strandhill, on Sunday.

Due to a litany of injuries, Buccs were unable to field for the original fixture and thus were deducted one point ahead of the refix. They faced a well organised outfit with a fairly strong pack in a match played in good conditions. Despite a much-improved showing by Buccs, with Brian Campbell, Gerry Glynn and the hard-working Vinny McGrath to the fore in the forwards, the midlanders could not match the north-westerners. Ger Walsh was a steadfast tackler at fullback, Tony Ward was promising on limited ball and Nick Purcell put in a tireless shift at scrumhalf. Glen Costello scored Buccs try early in the second half after the Pirates strung some phases together and he also kicked a penalty.  

BUCCANEERS:-  G.Walsh; L.Didebashvili, D.Griffiths, T.Ward, J.O’Connor; G.Costello, N.Purcell; B.Campbell, R.Grenham, K.Langdon; V.McGrath, C.Shanley; N.Flynn, G.Glynn and T.Couper. Replacements:- C.Galvin, N.Carr and P.Rikadze.




BUCCANEERS square up to leaders Galwegians in the Ulster Bank League Division 1B at Dubarry Park, Athlone, on Saturday afternoon with a 2.30 p.m. kick off. A bumper attendance is anticipated for this first Connacht derby of the season.  


Just like predecessors Terenure College last season, the Division 2A champions have hit the ground running and top the table following three narrow wins in their opening fixtures. Early scores in a pair of these games helped Wegians on their way and a potent backline has ensured bonus point wins over Dublin University and Shannon but it took a last play Ciaran Gaffney drop goal to pip U.L.Bohemian last Saturday. Matt Dever and Jerome Harimate are speedsters on the flanks with Brian Murphy solid and secure in the centre while John Cleary has a knack of scoring against the Pirates. Jarlath Naughton, Jack Dineen and Brian McClearn are key figures in their pack where ex-Bucc Eoin Rooney could feature.

Galwegians retained their Connacht League crown, outscoring Buccs 32-27 at Crowley Park in the process. Both teams, however, will be much-changed from that encounter and Saturday’s clash will likely be contested with greater tempo and vigour. Buccs backline, with Shane Layden, Rory O’Connor and Alan Gaughan in current form, can readily match the light blues. Conor Finn and Eoghan O’Reilly are a real threat in broken play and Mark Dolan has added a cutting edge to his neat scrumhalf play. Cousins Conor FitzGibbon and Billy Henshaw will be keen to feature in this juicy fixture for which Callum Boland should be back with the versatile Ger O’Connor also in contention.

Buccs young front row trio are growing in stature with each game. Props Diarmuid Higgins and Jacob Walshe are technically able and mobile and Martin Staunton is a highly viable option too.  Josh O’Rourke has, literally, come on in leaps and bounds at lock where James Tormey is often the unsung stalwart. Luke Satchwell is nearing the form of last season and Kolo Kiripati continues to roll back the years. Mata Fifita would be a decided asset in this sector if he recovers from injury. Evan Galvin, Sam McCormack, Conor Morrissey and possibly Shane Delahunt are other youngsters itching to be involved.

Buccs will need to repeat the commitment and endeavour of their wins over Garryowen and Shannon and improve their discipline and lineout work. A right ding-dong battle is anticipated and, in front of a bumper crowd on home soil, Buccs can be the first team to lower Galwegians colours.


BUCCANEERS U-20s kick off their South-West Conference League Section A campaign with Galwegians also providing the opposition for this joust. At time of writing, this match is scheduled for Crowley Park, Glenina, on Saturday but, I understand, Wegians are requesting to have this game also played in Dubarry Park with an early kick off. This should help swell the attendance and add an extra dimension to the day. (Check www.buccaneersrfc.com later in the week for update re venue on this fixture).

Buccs U-20s had a super season last year, losing just one league match enroute to the national quarter-finals. They also defeated Galwegians to win the Connacht U-20 Cup. Almost half that squad are now involved with the Senior panel so there will be a considerable change in personnel. Conor McGrath, Cian Romaine, Sean Doyle, Tom Finucane and Barry Goode are able and willing leaders here.

There are two key fixtures at Dubarry Park on Sunday also, particularly in Division 1B of the Connacht Junior League where Buccaneers Seconds will also throw down the gauntlet to leaders. Ballyhaunis are the opponents in this case and home coach Owen O’Reilly is making promising progress with his charges. Second row partners and brothers Sean and Ruairi Byrne can be influential figures here with Keith Grehan and Peadar Hennessy other decent forwards. David Fagan, Brian Walsh and Sean Flynn must lead by example in the backline in what will surely be a battle to the final whistle.

Buccaneers Thirds are also in action in Athlone on Sunday when they square up to N.U.I.Galway in the Connacht Junior 1C League. Buccs are finding this a steep learning curve following promotion but are slowly getting more organised. The Students lie in second place in the league table but Buccs must make the most of home advantage. Both Sunday matches are scheduled to kick off at 2.30 p.m.      


Annual Membership Subscriptions are now due and should be paid in full by the end of this month. All Youths/Minis/Girls who pay their subscription in full by Saturday week, October 11th, will receive a FREE pair of Buccs shorts and socks. This includes underage players whose membership is paid as part of Family Subscriptions. Membership Forms are available on the club’s website or from relevant team managers or by calling in to our Administrator’s office at The Bounty. Pirates subs are also due for payment.



The Jes reach last four with last minute winner