Buccaneers V Banbridge In “must win” match

Buccaneers square up to Banbridge in an All-Ireland League duel at Dubarry Park on Saturday in a  ‘must win’ contest.

Buccs currently lie in the relegation play-off berth, just two points adrift of the Ulster side, as both sides strive to maintain their Division 1B status.

This penultimate round fixture also heralds the first visit by Banbridge to Athlone. Kick off is half past two.

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The only certainty in this congested division is that former AIL title winners Ballymena are already relegated.

Mathematically it is possible that both Banbridge and Buccs could yet qualify for the promotion play-offs, such is the tightness of the division.

Banbridge beat Buccaneers 24 nil the last time both sides met.

Buccaneers are, arguably, the team most affected by the provinces sending squads to USA for recent fixtures during which the Pirates suffered two defeats.  All other clubs had just a single game absence of any contracted players.

Buccs will be bolstered by the availability of a number of these on Saturday when  Peter Claffey, Conan O’Donnell, Luke Carty, Corey Reid and Kieran Joyce could boost their options

Darragh Corbett and Simon Meagher should both be fit for selection following recent injuries further increasing head coach Peter O’Donnell’s permutations despite Conor Kenny’s absence due to injury.

Victory for Buccaneers would move them above Banbridge and put destiny in their own hands when they travel to Naas on Saturday week.

There are numerous potential outcomes with just two rounds of fixtures remaining.

Old Belvedere (just above Banbridge) are home to derby rivals and table toppers Old Wesley on Saturday. They then face Banbridge at Rifle Park in their final game,

St. Mary’ College got a real boost last time out when thrashing Ballymena but face two stiff tests against Malone (H) and Ballynahinch (A) so they are not out of trouble yet.

Buccaneers Head Coach Peter O’Donnell has been previewing the game with Kevin McDermott.

Division 1B league table:-

Old Wesley             48

Ballynahinch          48

Malone                   43

Naas                      43

City of Armagh       42

St. Mary’s College  40

Old Belvedere        39

Banbridge              37

Buccaneers            35

Ballymena              21