Just like the Seniors the Buccaneers U-20’s travelled Naas as the clubs squared up to each other in the Purcell Cup at sun-basked Dubarry Park on Sunday when the Pirates moved into the next round by virtue of a 35-19 victory. Buccs were deserved winners but they made unnecessarily hard work of dealing with the visitors’ challenge.
Corey Reid was unavailable, but Buccs balanced this by being able to utilise Luke Carty in their backline while James Foley also made a notable return to action at No.8. They scored their opening try through a maul, which was to prove an effective weapon for them throughout, with Ross Cooper applying the finishing touch. Thomas McGann once again demonstrated his finishing touch to add their second touchdown. Carty converted both to put the young Pirates 14-0 ahead but a converted Naas try left the game finely balanced 14-7 at halftime.
Buccs made a bright start to the second half. A good 45th minute break by Carty got them into the visitors’ 22 where they were composed and Frankie Hopkins spotted a gap to pick and go from close in for a try which Carty converted. Naas promptly retorted with a converted try. However, the Athlone side responded just as swiftly. A super Carty penalty to the right corner put them where they wanted to be and the pack again mauled over the Naas line where Hugh Ronaldson grounded the ball for a try which Carty converted to make it a double score game 28-14 after 51 minutes.
In the final quarter a Naas substitute was yellow carded for a dangerous tackle and Hopkins followed him to the sin bin two minutes later for slowing the ball. Naas got in for an unconverted try wide on the left before Buccs ensured a home win when Dean McMahon somehow conjured up possession inside the Naas 22 to snaffle an opportunist 75th minute try. Carty maintained his 100% success rate from placed balls to complete the 35-19 winning score line.
BUCCANEERS:- R.Convey; D.McMahon, S.Hastings, D.Keane, T.McGann; L.Carty, F.Hopkins; D.Buckley, E.Maher, C.Cleary; B.Collins, R.Cooper (captain); O.Rowe, J.Delahunt and J.Foley. Replacements:- H.Ronaldson (for Collins), J.O’Keeffe (for Convey), R.Flanagan (for Rowe), J.Kelly (for Cleary), E.O’Reilly (for Hastings), P.Browne (for Hopkins) and K.Joncher (for McGann).
BUCCS FACE TUAM IN WOMENS CUP FINAL
Buccaneers women’s team face Tuam in the final of the Connacht Womens Cup. This game fell victim to the dreadful weather of a couple of weeks ago and is rescheduled for Sunday. There has been little between these two teams in their League meetings and the Cup is likely to be decided by fine margins. The Buccs ladies have a wonderful spirit and work ethic so will not be found wanting for effort especially in the forwards contests where Sarah Kelly, Ciara Malone, Lorna Stuart-Trainor and Alex Hennessy can be counted on to give it their best shot. Cosmopolitan pairing Gohar Kostanyan and Andrea Antonissen form an athletic partnership at lock while Katy Ryan, Heather Sheridan and the mobile Antoinette Kemmy are other forwards who will put their bodies on the line.
Scrumhalf Niamh Gough skippers this Pirates crew and Hazel Kilduff, Emma O’Brien and Sabrina Egan are other formidable backs. Lizzie Flynn, Susan Ni Saoraigh, Judy Dowling, Aileen Hynes and Shannon Hennessy will all be itching to make the starting XV. Anna McGann and Niamh Ni Dhroma could be aces for Buccaneers who have trained diligently under coaches Sean Byrne and Ger Fallon. If Buccs play to their potential, then they can claim the silverware.
BUCCS SQUARE UP TO CORINTHIANS IN PLAY-OFF
Buccaneers Seconds square up to their Corinthians counterparts in a promotion/relegation play-off on Sunday. Buccs dearly need to deliver on this occasion as they strive to retain their Division 1A status. Working off a small squad, inconsistency has shunted them into this contest. Nevertheless, there is a solid group who can lay the foundation for victory in this shootout. Skipper Rory Grenham, lock Ruairi Byrne and the versatile James O’Connell will surely lead by example. Coach Garreth Halligan has stepped into the breach in recent outings and Ryan O’Meara is a promising prop while Sean Byrne, Keith Grehan, Niall Flynn and Trevor Thompson are experienced in the forwards trenches where Tristan Couper adds mobility. Evan Galvin would provide dynamism in this sector where Enda O’Brien, Martin Lyons and Colm Conroy will be bidding to make the matchday squad.
Alex Hayman can be a leader in the backline where Harry Hughes is a capable try-poacher and Sean Flynn provides solidity in the centre. Ger Fallon and Brian Walsh have also served well in the backline where the availability of Callum Boland and Rory O’Connor could be pivotal. Nicky Purcell and John Lopez are other contenders to start in the backline while U-20’s such as Frankie Hopkins, James Foley, Eoghan Maher, Dan Keane, Ross Cooper and Dean McMahon would be well able for this level if they are available. Coach Garreth Halligan and Manager Conor Moran will be looking for a massive effort in this must-win duel and, if the players deliver, then Buccaneers can prevail in what will surely be a searching test.
Congratulations to Joe Lyster on his recent 80th birthday and best wishes for a return to rude health. Congrats to Darin and Carol Claasen on the birth of their third daughter. Congrats also to Corey Reid who scored a try in Ireland U-19’s win over Japan.
EASTER RUGBY CAMP
Buccaneers Easter Rugby Camp for boys and girls aged 6 to 13 years old takes place at Dubarry Park from Tuesday, April 18th to Friday 21st. Qualified coaches will oversee the camp in which rugby skills will be coached in a fun and friendly environment. Contact Geraldine at 0861732711 to book.
CATHERINE FULVIO COOKERY DEMO NEXT WEEK
The club is hosting a COOKERY DEMONSTRATION by popular TV chef and food writer CATHERINE FULVIO in the Shamrock Lodge Hotel, Athlone, on Wednesday week April 5th. It should to be a very enjoyable evening and the event gets under way with a Cheese & Wine Reception from 7.30 p.m. Tickets €20 each are now on sale at the hotel, ‘A Room In Bloom’ and The Bounty.
BUCCANEERS AWARDS NIGHT
Looking a little further ahead, Buccaneers Awards Night takes place in The Bounty on Friday, May 12th. With our Senior team celebrating a trio of titles and no less than 9 Buccaneers players selected on Ireland teams this season, it promises to be an especially memorable occasion. Mark it in your diary, get the ‘glad rags’ organised and, more importantly, book your tickets early for this highlight night of the year!