BUCCANEERS playing season commences on Saturday when they face a very tricky assignment away to Ballina in a Connacht Senior League fixture at Heffernan Park, kick off 2.30 p.m. The hosts, who have been junior kingpins in Connacht for the past two seasons, will be buoyant following their opening day 35-24 home victory over Sligo last Saturday.
The Mayo club enjoyed a superb campaign last season, retaining their Connacht Junior League title and adding the Connacht Junior Cup crown in a near flawless crusade. Topping those impressive achievements were their 100% success rate in the AIL round robin series that clinched promotion to the All-Ireland League. Vastly experienced scrumhalf Mickey Murphy is a vital cog in their play with No.8 Daniel Molloy and prop Conor Mason key operators in their pack. Meanwhile Kieran Lindsay can be counted on to contribute from place-kicks.
Apart from playing at home on Saturday, Ballina will have an added advantage in having had a competitive outing last weekend when they overcame Sligo (who were Division 2C champions last season ) 35-24 at Heffernan Park. They scored five tries, all converted, through Molloy, Mason, Lindsay, Murphy and Craig McCormick.
Ballina’s only blip last season was their 22-17 All-Ireland Junior Cup final loss to Ashbourne but they atoned for that setback when accounting for the Co. Meath club 29-19 in their round robin meeting. Both those encounters will have given a crucial insight into Ballina’s players and style to Peter O’Donnell. The new head coach at Buccaneers was in charge at Ashbourne for the past three successful seasons at the Leinster outfit so he will know well the challenge facing the Pirates next Saturday.
With no Connacht players available to the midlanders in this league, Buccs will likely field an experimental squad that will welcome back Rory Moloney and give a debut to young South African Andre Kruger. Injury rules out Shane Layden while Alan Gaughan may have GAA commitments but Callum Boland, Rory O’Connor and Ben Carty will provide experience in the backline. Martin Staunton, Evan Galvin, John Sutton and Ruairi Byrne are likely to be the backbone in the Athlone side’s pack.
Buccs must be disciplined, organised, committed and not be intimidated for this test in which they need to hit the ground running as they start a long season. Best of luck to all players and mentors in the season ahead.
Congrats to a quintet of young Buccs who are in the Connacht U-18 squad currently playing in the interpro series in Limerick. Darragh Murray, Harry Balsiger, Sam O’Sullivan, Martin Fallon and Leo McFarlane were part of the squad that defeated Leinster 33-29 in their opening fixture when a final move of the game try proved the winner.
Womens rugby training takes place at Dubarry Park on Monday evenings from 7 p.m. ‘Newbies’ are always welcome so, girls and ladies, give rugby a try!