Buccaneers teams have crunch fixtures this weekend with three exciting matches in prospect.
On Saturday the Firsts XV face their longest journey of the season when the All-Ireland League resumes after the festive break with a trip to Ballymena.
Meanwhile on Sunday supporters will have to decide which of two key games they can watch as our J1’s and Under-20 teams take on the table toppers in their respective leagues.
When Buccaneers hosted Ballymena in their final AIL fixture of 2018 they were in generous mood, gifting a couple of tries to the Ulster side who won narrowly 27-22.
That win, however, meant the Braidmen moved off the bottom of Division 1B, a position now held by the midlanders who must really galvanise themselves for the second half of the campaign.
The Pirates have not taken all the chances they have created and been naïve in managing some matches. With more patience and a bigger dose of “smarts” they can start winning the tight encounters.
It is a very closely fought division as evidenced by the fact that the leaders are just ten points above the Athlone club.
Saturday’s joust in Eaton Park is vital for both teams so a battle royale can be anticipated.
The northerners had a decent sprinkling of Ulster players including Clive Ross, Matthew Rea and Robert Balacoune in their ranks on that occasion when Argentinian prop Ignacio Caldera Crespo was a vital component.
Halfbacks Tim Small and Michael Stronge were big influences in forging their win.
Buccs resources are likely to be stretched up North with linchpin forwards, Martin Staunton, Peter Claffey and Rory Moloney all out through injury but Simon Meagher and Niall Farrelly should be back in contention.
Luke Carty should be available while fellow backs Graham Lynch and Darragh Corbett hopeful of being fit but Colm Reilly is likely to be “cotton-wooled” for Ireland Under-20’s.
A stiff test faces the Pirates but, if the team can replicate the effort and endeavour shown at Armagh and is bolstered by a number of more experienced operators, then Buccaneers will give it a right good go at a ground where they won on their last visit.
Buccaneers Under-20’s return to action with an enticing clash against table toppers Old Wesley in the J.P.Fanagan Leinster U-20 League at Dubarry Park on Sunday. The young Buccs lie in third place in Premier 2 Division and will be itching to pit themselves against the only unbeaten team in this section.
Another third placed Buccaneers squad, the J1’s also face league leaders when they tackle Connemara in the Connacht Junior 1A League also in Athlone on Sunday.
Absentees from the Senior side will inevitably mean that this Buccs side will be short some personnel but there is a good spirit in this panel and they will make the Clifden side work hard from start to finish.
Both the J1’s and U-20’s matches kick off at 2.30 p.m. on Sunday.