Martin Staunton and Michael Cleary captured the chief accolades at Buccaneers end of season Gala Awards dinner held at the Radisson Blu hotel, Athlone.
Stalwart Staunton was named Senior Player of the Year for the second time while the even longer serving Cleary earned the Club Person of the Year accolade.
Buccaneers President Tom Meagher said that despite a difficult season for our senior side Buccs had nevertheless enjoyed much success. The club’s underage section continues to claim silverware while, as could be seen from the trophies lined up for presentation, Buccaneers had no less than 10 players wear the green of Ireland during the season.
These included Robbie Henshaw, who also wore the red of the British & Irish Lions, the first clubman and Athlone native to do so, which brought immense pride to The Pirates.
Staunton has been a committed and consistent player for Buccaneers for quite some time now. A virtually ever present in our first XV, he epitomises the true clubman who shows top class example in regularly being first to training and always giving his absolute best on the playing fields.
The Laurencetown native learned his rugby at Ballinasloe before switching to Shannon for three seasons, the first two with their U20 academy. He also switched position from No.8 to prop when he was elevated to their senior squad and the following year he transferred to Buccaneers where he has proved a much valued addition to the Pirates’ front-row. He also played with Connacht U20s and has now enjoyed nine seasons with the Midlands club, culminating in winning promotion to the Ulster Bank League 1A division last season.
While a software design student at Athlone Institute of Technology, he was their ‘Player of the Year’ in 2011 and captained them to an All-Ireland Colleges Senior Cup triumph from the No.8 berth. Staunton has won Connacht Senior League titles for the past three seasons as well as a number of Senior Cup successes also. The wholehearted and effervescent forward is a very popular member of the Buccaneers squad, who was also honoured as our Senior Player of the Year in 2014 and was recently named Connacht Senior Club Player of 2018.
Fiery and passionate, captain Brian Collins was named Buccaneers U20s Player of the Year. From Roscommon, the student is a lock with big potential who will surely soon be bidding for a starting berth in the senior squad.
Rossa Dooley, a relatively recent arrival from Lansdowne, is a very promising flanker whose endeavours, including some playing time with the Firsts, ensured he warranted the Seconds Player of the Year accolade.
The women’s team has fielded many new faces in the past season or two, but it was one their founding players, Tracey Finnerty, who merited the Womens Player of the Year honour. She was a key performer at prop when Buccs won the Connacht Invitational Cup in their inaugural campaign. A splendid team member, she has displayed versatility this term, along with her customary fierce desire to give of her best, and her contributions earned her a merited nomination as Connacht Womens Club player of the Year.
The ‘Most Improved’ player awards went to Paul Boyle (Firsts ), Trevor Phillips (Seconds ), Robert Enraght-Moony (U20s ) and Katy Ryan (Womens ); all were truly worthy winners.
The input and endeavours of the club’s volunteers were again recognised this year. Here, as in all sections, there were worthy nominees aplenty before the winners were decided upon.
David Connolly, who has worn many caps in the club, including skippering Buccs to an All-Ireland League division title win, and was also a noted AIL referee, was a deserving winner of the Youths Volunteer of the Year Award. He has enjoyed coaching success here including a recent Connacht U17 Plate triumph.
The ladies continue to make a major contribution at underage rugby, and the dedication of Giovanna Hudson-Magliocca earned her a richly merited ‘Minis Volunteer of the Year’ honour.