With just two rounds of fixtures remaining, Buccaneers enter the last chance saloon when they square up to Garryowen in their final home match of this season’s Ulster Bank League on Saturday.
This Glenroyal Hotel sponsored Division 1A game is vital for both clubs’ aspirations, with the Limerick side intent on retaining their current top four play-off berth, while nothing less than victory for The Pirates will prevent an immediate return to 1B. Consequently, a full-blooded encounter is anticipated at Dubarry Park, where the action kicks off at 2.30pm.
Having been well beaten at home by Terenure College, Garryowen regrouped to defeat Clontarf at Castle Avenue in their last outing, when substitute Diarmuid Barron scored a brace of tries in that bonus point victory. Andrew Keating, Niall Horan and Sean O’Connor feature in a hard-working light blues pack, while skipper Neil Cronin at scrum-half and winger Liam Coombes are aces in their backline, where Billy Johnston will be vying for the outhalf role with Jamie Gavin.
Johnston and his brother David were regulars for Munster A and the latter is a strong-running centre. Garryowen lie in fourth place on the league table, just two points ahead of Clontarf and three above Young Munster.
Buccs gave a very good account of themselves at Dooradoyle early in the season and indeed were leading as the game entered the final quarter. But a needless yellow card impacted on them as they conceded 14 points when depleted to miss out even for a losing bonus point. Late losses and missed bonus point opportunities have cost the Midlanders dearly throughout a difficult campaign and they are now seven points adrift of St Mary’s College.
Destiny is not in their own hands, but they simply must win on Saturday. They have been unfortunate in many matches, yet have never shirked a battle. They are capable of taking the spoils but will all need to be firing on all cylinders from start to finish to do so.