BUCCANEERS remain joint leaders of the Ulster Bank League Division 1B following a 15-7 victory over Dublin University at Sydney Parade, Dublin, on Saturday. This was Buccs third successive win and, while it was merited, it was hard-earned against a battling Students outfit who were a mite unlucky to end up empty-handed after a brave showing.


Buccs made three changes from their last outing against Malone with Jack Carty returning at outhalf for younger brother Ben. In the pack, Garreth Halligan replaced hooker David Heffernan (called up by Connacht) while Rory Moloney came in at wing forward for the injured Shane Casey. College’s main absentee was Jack Dilger with Nick McCarthy deputising at No.8.

While the surface at Monkstown’s grounds was good, rain and a blustery breeze contrived to spoil this game as a spectacle. Both sides would surely have preferred a more open encounter but the weather dictated otherwise, making it difficult for playing and note-taking!

Trinity had the first scoring opportunity when Buccs were caught in possession but Conor Kearns 4th minute penalty drifted wide. Carty had Buccs first chance but his drop goal attempt four minutes later was also off-target. The Pirates had several snipes at the home line before it was breached on 18 minutes. Callum Boland made a couple of promising breaks while Alex Hayman was unlucky when a tackle on the Buccs fullback caused the Pirates skipper to lose his footing in a decent position before Luke Satchwell got the scoring move in motion in midfield. Halligan then off-loaded excellently in the tackle to Eoghan O’Reilly and the young wing scampered in for his first AIL try in the left corner with Carty adding a super touchline conversion.

Buccs generally had the better of the exchanges but lacked patience and composure on occasion as they failed to add to their tally until the half-hour mark. They lost a scrum against the head deep in their own half but the Students did not secure possession and Conor Kindregan rampaged down the centre. This time the ball was moved to the right where Steve Macauley slid in at the corner despite the efforts of Jack Fitzpatrick for a try that Carty could not convert. Buccs were worthy of their 12-0 advantage and looked set to add to it in the dying moments of the opening half when they went through the phases inside the home 22. However, they conceded a needless penalty when coming in from the side, and Kearns thumped a relieving kick into touch inside the visitors’ half. From the lineout, Pierce Dargan’s break caught Buccs napping as he found a gap for a try which Kearns converted with the final kick of the half to narrow Dublin University’s arrears to 12-7 at halftime.

The game was now up for grabs but testing conditions ensured that errors by both sides continued after the change of ends. Diarmuid Higgins replaced Peter Reilly at halftime with Kolo Kiripati making a welcome return early in the second half for James Tormey. This meant a reshuffle in the midlanders’ pack but, otherwise, the Athlone side kept changes to the minimum. Chances and incidents of note were at a premium too despite a huge amount of effort by both sides and, with the Students rolling up their collective sleeves, the second period was much more even.

However, disciplined Buccaneers were not found wanting in their defensive duties in this half with Danny Qualter, Billy Henshaw, Kindregan and substitute Higgins making notable hits to take some steam out of Trinity’s challenge which was led by Brian du Toit, Dargan and Kearns. Buccs tackling was generally tenacious and crisp and, overall, they were the cuter outfit. Carty, who was wide with an ambitious 65th minute penalty and failed to find touch a shade too often in the first half, still had the resolve and ability to seal the outcome with the only score of the second half, a 61st minute penalty that denied luckless Trinity a losing bonus point.

DUBLIN UNIVERSITY:- J.Fitzpatrick; C.Carriaga, C.Kearns, P.Lavelle, N.Adeolukan; M.Nicholson, J.Sullivan; D.Crosbie, A.Brady, M.Kelly; W.Scott, J.Kelly (captain); P.Dargan, B. du Toit and N.McCarthy. Replacements:- J.Costigan (for McCarthy, inj. 9 mins), C.Goode (for Crosbie, 24 mins), A.MacLellan and C.Joyce.


BUCCANEERS:-  C.Boland; S.Macauley, B.Henshaw, A.Hayman (captain), E.O’Reilly; J.Carty, M.Dolan; M.Staunton, G.Halligan, P.Reilly; J.Tormey, D.Qualter; C.Kindregan, R.Moloney and L.Satchwell. Replacements:- D.Higgins (for Reilly, h/t), K.Kiripati (for Tormey, 48 mins), R.Grenham, B.Carty and M.Abraham.


REFEREE:-  Stuart Douglas (IRFU).




BUCCANEERS face an acid test of their Ulster Bank League potential when they square up to Shannon in a hugely-anticipated Division 1B clash at Dubarry Park on Saturday afternoon. Kick off in Athlone is 2.30 p.m.


Shannon was the top club in AIL competition for many, many seasons as they accumulated 9 championships including a possibly never to be repeated 4 titles in succession. However, in recent seasons they have struggled to maintain their exceptional standards and they failed to stave off the sceptre of relegation when UCD humiliated them in Coonagh in a play-off at the end of the most recent campaign.

Surprisingly, they lost their two opening fixtures in Division 1B but forged their first win when accounting for Dungannon last weekend. They will now travel to Athlone with renewed confidence and vigour so a pulsating contest is very likely. They have a big, physical pack led by hooker Duncan Casey. John Shine is a highly versatile back rower while prop Niall Horan and lock Keith White are two other key anchors. The backline has a potent mix of talent and experience with Tadhg Bennett their main scoring threat. He is a topclass placekicker and could be joined in the centre by another Tadhg — Leader. Rob Guerin is a snappy scrumhalf and Luke O’Dea is hugely exciting at fullback or wing while David O’Donovan adds guile to this unit.

However, Buccaneers have guile, potential and craft aplenty this term too. Arguably, their squad is more balanced than in recent seasons and, if they can be more consistent and clinical, then they should fear no one on their own patch. The pack is very settled with Danny Qualter being the standout performer so far, with Luke Satchwell also showing strongly. Conor Kindregan and Shane Casey have added mobility and bulk to the backrow where Kolo Kiripati’s availability further improves options there. Martin Staunton has been impressively consistent in the front row where Peter Reilly and Diarmuid Higgins are having their own private contest for the tighthead berth. Garreth Halligan is a wily and skilled hooker who still covers an impressive amount of ground in every match while David Heffernan’s burgeoning promise was confirmed with a fine contribution against Leinster last weekend. Vastly experienced James Tormey is often the unsung hero of the side while Rory Moloney is a hugely busy flanker at the other arc of his rugby career. Ruairi Byrne is a versatile forward who will surely be in consideration for this test.

Buccs backline may generally be very youthful but, nevertheless, possesses experience aplenty. Jack Carty and Mark Dolan are eminently capable of controlling matters at halfback with guidance from skipper Alex Hayman, whose pairing with Billy Henshaw is working well in the centre. The back three of Callum Boland, Steve Macauley and Eoghan O’Reilly can take scores without shirking defensive duties. Ben Carty, Mark Abraham, Paul Harte and Harry Hughes are viable options in this sector.  

While proud Shannon will be keen to go straight back up to Division 1A, if Buccaneers perform to their collective potential with consistency and discipline, then a home win is well within their grasp.

Other Fixtures

BUCCANEERS WOMEN make the relatively short hop to Edenderry on Sunday where their Womens All-Ireland League Division 2 Central match kicks off at 1 p.m. The Buccs girls have been greatly hampered by absentees for various reasons but, hopefully, will have some of their “walking wounded” available for this midlands derby. If that is the case, then their adventurous spirit could well be rewarded.

BUCCANEERS SECONDS will be hoping to build on their promising win at Monivea last time out when they tackle Galwegians Seconds at Dubarry Park, Athlone, on Sunday afternoon. This Connacht Junior 1B League encounter kicks off at 2.30 p.m. On paper, this Buccs outfit has a decent pedigree that somehow has not quite jelled. The pack, in which the Byrne brothers, Rory Grenham, Liam Doran and Adrian Hughes have generally foraged a decent supply of possession, is capable of dictating matters. Yet, despite the potential of David Fagan, Dominic Griffiths, Declan Byrne and Ger Fallon, the backline has not always transferred dominance into scores. However, the sky blue jerseys on the opposing side could well focus minds and endeavour in this joust!

Fixtures changes

BUCCANEERS Ulster Bank League game at home to Terenure College has been brought forward to the Saturday before Christmas, December 21st. Meanwhile, Buccs U-20s match against Highfield, which was postponed due to a water-logged pitch in Cork, is now rescheduled for Saturday week, November 9th, at Model Farm Road.


As previewed in this column last week, the Womens team were not found wanting with their efforts in hosting a ‘HALLOWEEN FANCY DRESS’ over the bank holiday weekend. The time and enterprise put in was clearly on view for all to see at an immensely sociable event. The Spice Girls reunited for the occasion, although Posh has clearly put on a bit of weight since moving to Beckingham Palace! “The Grim Reaper” (aka Dominic Griffiths) won the main prize for best costume. Big “thank you” goes to Aoife Taaffe, Emma O’Neill, Sarah Kelly and Christine Mannion who organised this fun event.  


Gallery: HT minis – Ballinrobe, Ballyhaunis, Corinthians and Dunmore