A new coaching triumvirate is in place at Buccaneers for the coming season, the kick off for which is fast approaching on August 25th. Peter O’Donnell comes in as Head Coach and he will be assisted by Aidan Wynne with Michael Harding in charge of the club’s Seconds team. All three are young, ambitious and progressive, and will work together along with Buccs U-20 mentors in fashioning the Pirates style of play for all teams.
O’Donnell is a former front row player with nearly 20 years coaching experience. He joins from Ashbourne who enjoyed a really successful spell during his term in charge from 2015. In that period the Co. Meath club were Leinster Junior 1A league winners last season and captured the All-Ireland Cup crown in both 2017 and 2018.They were Towns Cup Plate winners in his first season there and also claimed the Spencer Cup and McGowan Cup (twice ) during that time. Peter had also held assistant coach roles at Naas and Old Belvedere (two clubs in Division 1B with Buccaneers in the forthcoming AIL ). He has also worked with the Ireland Womens national team and also the Womens Development Sevens squad as well as various Leinster underage squads and schools in the province. O’Donnell’s prime area of expertise is with the forwards while Wynne will focus on the backs.
Wynne returns to the Athlone club where he performed with distinction for a number of seasons primarily at centre but also at halfback. The 30-year-old Ferbane native played with Tullamore last season and prior to that was a regular for Old Belvedere. He has been capped by Ireland at U-18, U-19 and U-20 levels. Aidan has the unique distinction of having won Senior Schools Cups in both Connacht (with Gallen Community School ) and then Leinster (with Blackrock College ).
Harding steps up from his home town club Portumna where the 29-year-old was player coach last season. Like O’Donnell and Wynne, he too is ambitious and hard-working and this trio could well prove the ideal fit for the leading midlands club. Their hard work has already commenced with training on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Dubarry Park and other dates will be added in the build up to the season kick-off. We wish them and all Buccaneers teams successful and enjoyable campaigns.
Golf Classic won by Moate quartet
In contrast to the previous two years, Buccaneers Annual Golf Classic was played in sweltering weather with the hot scoring matching the climatic conditions at Glasson Country House Hotel & Golf Course recently. Hottest players of all were the Moate quartet comprised of husband and wife pairings in Hugh and Kathleen Conlon and Terry and Mary Rose Coughlan.
The winners are long-time supporters of this event and were well due their success. But such was the tightness of the scoring that they pipped the runners-up only by virtue of the back nine countback! David Connolly’s team in which he was joined by Paul Fogarty, Vincent Shelley and Dermot Claffey, were thus narrowly edged out to second place.
Jim Ward’s team is also a regular supporter of Buccaneers Golf Classic and they finished third on the presentation podium. His teammates were Michael McSharry, Kevin Heery and Paul Claffey. Terry Coughlan added the ‘nearest the pin’ award to his team triumph while young Shane Mannion captured the ‘longest drive’ accolade.
Club President Gordon Ballantyne thanked all who participated, remarking that there was a wonderful turnout with virtually every tee slot filled. He gratefully acknowledged all the tee and hole sponsors and he thanked all involved in the successful organisation of this popular event. The magnificent condition of the course at Glasson Golf Club was duly complimented on as was the catering there on the day.
CONNACHT take on WASPS on Saturday week
Buccaneers club is gearing up for the first match of the new season which sees Connacht take on Wasps in what should be a quality friendly at Dubarry Park on Saturday week, August 18th. Kick off is 3 p.m. It will be Connacht’s first game under new head coach Andy Friend and Wasps, who finished third in the English Premiership, will provide stiff opposition. The visitors, who will play in holders Leinster pool in the forthcoming Champions Cup, are backboned by a plethora of top-class international players from all over the globe. A big physical, pacey squad, they should prove a massive attraction at the Athlone venue.
Captained by Joe Launchbury who has fellow England internationals Elliott Daly, Nathan Hughes and Kieran Brookes among his clubmates, Wasps have further bolstered their ambitions by signing Lima Sopoago, Michael LeBourgeois and Ambrose Curtis in recent weeks. Sopoago joins from the Highlanders and the holder of 18 caps for the All Blacks is a top quality replacement fly-half for the departing Danny Cipriani. Winger Curtis is a regular on the New Zealand Sevens squad while centre LeBourgeois joins from Bedford. South African capped No.8 Nizaam Carr has extended his contract at the Coventry based club who signed flying Fiji winger Gabrielle Lovobalavu last season. A player not mentioned previously in this column is Dan Robson, the lively scrumhalf looking a likely England international in the not too distant future.
Tickets and Pre-Match function
Tickets are available via www.connachtrugby.ie and are favourably priced as follows:- Stand €15 (selling strongly ); Ground €10; Junior €5; and Family €20 (admits 2 adults + 2 juniors to ground, and is really good value indeed ).
Buccaneers are holding a pre-match function including 3-course meal with wine in The Bounty and complimentary Stand ticket. Groups and individuals can be catered for. Email [email protected] to book or phone 0861732711.