Buccaneers J1’s are also in search of precious points as they square up to fellow strugglers Sligo in their Connacht Junior 1A clash that takes place under the Dubarry Park floodlights on Saturday night.
Kick-off time is 7.30 p.m. Buccs trail Sligo by four points with just three rounds of fixtures remaining.
As third from bottom Monivea are out of reach, one of these clubs will be relegated while the other will go into a promotion/relegation play-off.
Consequently, no quarter will be asked or given on Saturday night.
Sligo thumped Buccs very early in the season but the Pirates gained some redress for that when they overcame the north-westerners in the Junior Cup.
Buccs needs are that bit greater and it may galvanise them sufficiently to eke out an invaluable win. If they can achieve that and send Sligo home empty-handed, then the midlanders will have thrown themselves a lifeline.
U-20’s away to NUIG
Buccaneers U-20’s also have a crucial match when they face a College test away to NUIG at Dangan, Galway, on Sunday.
This rescheduled JP Fanagan Leinster U-20 Premier League 2 showdown kicks off at 12 noon. In this encounter both clubs are chasing vital points at the better end of the league table.
Buccs are currently second on 32 points, three points and one place ahead of the Students who have a game in hand.
Buccs edged a 23-21 home win early in the season and it is likely to be equally tight this weekend. Both teams have been playing well so a cracker is anticipated.
The Athlone side will need to be fired up and disciplined and if they play to their collective strengths then they can come out on top of what will surely be a serious test.
J2’s in Ard-Na-Cregg Cup
Buccaneers J2’s also face NUIG on Sunday and it too is a refixed match when the teams play in the preliminary round of the Ard-Na-Cregg Cup at Dangan.
Kick-off time is scheduled for 2.30pm but that could well be changed due to the Ireland v England Six Nations match which kicks off at 3pm that afternoon.
Young Buccs win league title
Buccaneers 10 Corinthians 5
Last Saturday, February 15th, at Creggs RFC, Buccaneers U-14 ‘black’ squad defeated Corinthians 10-5 to capture the Connacht Rugby U-14 Division 1 League title.
In tough conditions with constant driving rain and wind, resembling the middle of winter rather than spring, the Buccaneers side out-muscled the opposition to claim the title.
The excellence of Buccs was built on commanding set-pieces, ferocious work in the tight, hard-hitting tackles and good running lines by the backs.
This is only the fourth time since 2002 that Buccaneers have claimed the U-14 Connacht Division 1 League title, the others being in 2007, 2008 and 2014.
The 2007 and 2008 teams being the launching platform for some famous Irish players, namely, Robbie Henshaw and Jack Carty.
This Buccaneers U-14 squad have followed up on their impressive season last year where they won the Connacht U-13 League title and lost narrowly in the Connacht Cup final.
Equally impressive is that the squad of 30 players got to the semi-final of the Connacht U-14 Division 2 League with the Buccaneers ‘yellow’ squad.
This league final was a tough affair. Buccaneers played into a strong gale in the first-half.
Buccs didn’t give Corinthians an inch and through their ferociousness in the tackle they kept Corinthians under sustained pressure. The front five were dominant in the tight, Nathan Downes, Eoin Naughton, Jacques Bourdon, James Heaslip and Rian Claffey out-muscled their opposite numbers, dominating the scrums, lineouts and tight play.
Buccaneers backrow of Sean Walshe, Otega Awhinawhi, and Callum Kelly were highly industrious, turning over ball in rucks, tackling with menace and running strongly with possession.
This sustained pressure kept the Galway side pinned deep into their own 22.
Buccaneers backline were in no mood to let their opposite numbers out of the 22. Strong tackling by Charlie O’Carroll, Thomas Cotton and Niall Derwin ensured Corinthians remained under pressure.
Conor Naughton ran hard from the out-half position tying up Corinthians defenders.
The occasional mistake by the Athlone team allowed Corinthians to use the wind to clear their lines, but Buccaneers would keep coming back and the back three of Conor Dowling, Sean O’Donoghue and Dylan Bruton fielded the Corinthians kicks and ran back with purpose always getting past the first defender to establish a stronghold in the opposition half.
The breakthrough for Buccaneers came when a big hit by Derwin turned the ball over, Buccaneers quickly recycled, then used their pods with strong carries by the forwards freeing up space for the backs to exploit.
After quick and accurate passing, in dreadful conditions, the ball was transferred from O’Carroll to Cotton who found Derwin.
He straightened the line before sending Naughton away to score in the corner with O’Donoghue in support. The conversion was missed, leaving Buccaneers closing the half 5-0 in front.
In the second-half Buccaneers kept the pressure on Corinthians, but the occasional penalty allowed Corinthians to exit their half.
After establishing a foothold in the Corinthians half the Pirates pressure forced their opponents into making a mistake.
Cotton blocked an attempted relieving kick by the Corinthians full back in the 22 and the scramble saw the Corinthians winger go to kick, which was blocked by Derwin.
The ball ricocheted like a pin ball and went over the try line where Dowling was alert and first to react to touch down for Buccaneers to extend the lead.
The conversion was missed leaving the score 10-0 with 18 minutes to go.
Corinthians upped their intensity and some tired bodies on the young Pirates side allowed Corinthians to score a try in the corner.
The conversion was missed, leaving the score 10-5 with 10 minutes left. Buccaneers made some substitutions with Samuel Slevin and Tom Sheehan coming in to replace Downes and O’Donoghue.
With tremendous pressure being applied by Corinthians the Buccaneers team were getting on the wrong side of the referee, conceding penalties and territory.
Claffey was penalised for a high tackle and shown a yellow card, leaving Buccaneers down to 14 men with five minutes left on the clock.
The ethos of hard work and never say die attitude amongst the Buccaneers squad, was evident for all present as the Buccaneers team rallied, regained their composure and rebuffed all attempts by Corinthians to score in the final moments.
Credit must go to the Buccaneers coaches, Graham Heaslip, Eugene Forde, John O’Carroll, Shane Naughton and Ger O’Donoghue, who have developed a playing style and tactics that utilises the strengths of the team.
The skill set, work ethic, tactical awareness and ability to adapt to changing weather conditions has ensured success in the league that bodes well with a cup run to follow.
Buccaneers U-14 Squad:- Otega Awhinawhi; Patrick Begley; Jacques Bourdon; Tom Bourke; Dylan Bruton; Alvaro Canto; Rian Claffey; Brandon Conroy; Thomas Cotton; Niall Derwin; Caimin Dolan; Jason Dolan; Conor Dowling; Nathan Downes; Cian Duffy; James Heaslip; Callum Kelly; Matthew Lynch; Gabriel McLaughlin; Evan McMickan; Andrew Mitchell; Conor Naughton; Eoin Naughton; Sean Noone; Charlie O’Carroll; Sean O’Donoghue; Aryan Sharma; Tom Sheehan; Samuel Slevin; Sean Walshe.
Tuam 17 Buccaneers 13
Although giving a vastly improved showing from when these clubs last met, Buccs came up that bit short when losing 17-13 away to Tuam in their Connacht Junior 1A League game played in testing conditions on Sunday.
But they will take heart from the bonus point achieved which may yet prove priceless as they bid to avoid the drop.
Prosecco by the pitch
The intriguingly titled ‘Prosecco by the Pitch’ takes place on Saturday week, February 29th.
This is in reality ‘Ladies Day’ and it proved hugely successful and enjoyable last year, which was the first time it took place at Buccaneers.
It entails a prosecco reception (naturally!) at 12.30 p.m. followed by three course lunch with complimentary wine in The Bounty before the match against league leaders MU Barnhall.
Waiter service will be provided by male players on the day! There will be a prize for the best dressed lady so, ladies, get your ‘black and gold’ style on.
Pre-booking is very promising and contact Geraldine at 0861732711 for tickets. Interestingly, it takes place on Leap Year Day this season, so some of our male members could be getting nervous!
You are invited to “Have a Ball” at Buccaneers RFC’s GALA FASHION SHOW which takes place in Athlone’s Radisson Blu Hotel on Thursday, April 2nd.
Mandy Maher will be the host at the event and her Catwalk Model Agency is providing the models as well as sound and lighting so it should be a topclass occasion with maybe a Buccaneers player or two tempted on to the catwalk too!
There will be a drinks and tapas reception on arrival supported by sponsorship from Croughan’s Supervalu and the show is scheduled to start at 7.30pm.
There will be a prize for the best-dressed lady, sponsored by Athlone Fascinators. Fashions from most of Athlone’s top fashion stores including Carraig Donn, Burgess, Olivia Danielle, Athlone Towncentre and Eddie Murphy will feature.
It has been quite a number of years since the club last staged a Fashion Show and this looks like an event not to be missed.
Tickets are available now from Carraig Donn (Golden Island), The Bounty and the Radisson Blu hotel.
Six Nations Trophy Visits Buccs
The Guinness Six Nations trophy will visit Buccaneers this Thursday evening February 20th. It will be on view in The Bounty from 8 p.m. All welcome to come along.
Deepest sympathy is extended to our Administrator Geraldine Kenny and family on the death of her aunt Alice Eustace.