Connacht Womens Development League and Cup champions Sligo and Buccaneers respectively, each contested the All-Ireland Club Sevens over the weekend, at Dubarry Park, Athlone.2744

Poorly patronised this late in the season, Buccaneers and Sligo both contested the second-tier B-grade competition, which involved one other squad – Tralee, of Co Kerry.

AIL Division One heavyweights Blackrock, Old Belvedere and UL Bohemians also went head-to-head with St Mary’s in the A-grade competition.

Buccaneers and Sligo both enjoyed local rugby successes this year, the former bucked the odds claiming the latter League Champion’s scalp in the Cup semi-final en route to their victory over Carrick-on-Shannon at The Sportsground. Both clubs have emerged as football forces this year and while neither looks set to contest an AIL league at this stage, a surge in squad numbers will afford both greater luxury to compete on a national level.

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On talent alone, several in each squad would push Div One regulars for selection in their own teams, but numbers and experience comprise to great an impact as far as bench cover and crucial positions are concerned.

2805That said, both Buccaneers and Sligo have the benefit of major tertiary education providers within reach, and senior rugby clubs and facilities at their disposal.

Sligo coach Gavin Foley following his side’s shock exit from the cup competition, said that the Buccaneers title win a week later was great for Connacht rugby, and served to show just how far Buccaneers had come in the space of six months.

Sligo’s Connacht Sevens’ reps Leona Moran, Grainne Blount and Niamh Connolly shone on Saturday, and Buccaneers’ Niamh ni Dhroma was every bit the measure of of those on display. Moran nabbed a brace of tries in each of the Buccanneers and Tralee clash whereas Blount was devastating with ball-in-hand against Tralee, pushing Sligo well into Tralee territory time and again. Six Nations bolter Siobhan Fleming was one among a select few for Tralee able to check Blount’s scoring tally, but yards gained invariably led to Sligo scores within seconds.

Sligo lost in the B-grade final to Tralee.

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