Connacht kick off their season tomorrowwith a highly attractive fixture against top English club Sale Sharks at Dubarry Park in Athlone (7pm ).
Home fans will be will be eager to get a close-up look at the Murray brothers. Niall and Darragh, but missing from action will be the five internationals, Bundee Aki, Mack Hansen, Dave Heffernan, Finlay Bealham and Cian Prendergast, who all featured in Ireland’s recent series win over New Zealand. Also unavailable for this fixture, is Jack Carty, who has been named captain for the new season. Carty will be assisted by vice-captains Jarrad Butler and Bundee Aki.
Carty, who was the on-field captain for several games last season, has already made 180 appearances for the club, and could surpass Connacht great Eric Elwood’s all-time points tally.
Carty says it is a “huge honour” to captain his home province.
“I first walked through the doors as a 14-years-old, and if you said to me, I would play for Connacht never mind captaining the team, I would have laughed at you. None of this would ever have been possible if it wasn’t for my family, friends and teammates.
“It’s an incredibly humbling moment, and with that comes responsibility to ensure we proudly represent the people of Connacht, whether they are here in the actual province or in one of the four corners of the world – which we strive to do.
“I can’t wait to get back on the pitch again to lead in the best way possible, by performing. A special thanks to JB [Jarrad Butler} who I’ve learnt an incredible amount from the last few years and will continue to do so. I can’t wait to see everyone at the Sportsground, with our new surface, on October 7.”
As a result of the new synthetic pitch being installed, tomorrow’s pre-season challenge takes place in Athlone against the English Premiership side which boasts a string of England internationals Manu Tuilagi, Tom and Ben Curry, Manu Tuilagi, Joe Simpson, and Josh Beaumont (son of Bill ), as well as Scotland’s Ewan Ashman.
They also have a host of South African internationals in their squad, including the Du Preez brothers Robert, Daniel and Jean-Luc, all of whom have been capped by the Springboks. Their father Robert also played for South Africa and they are the first family to have three members play for the World champions. Prop Coenie Oosthuizen and hooker Akker van der Merwe are other regulars in the Springboks squad, so Sale Sharks can field a big physical side which should prove a formidable challenge for Connacht and attract a big attendance to the Athlone venue.
Tickets can be purchased at Buccaneers club by contacting administrator Geraldine 086-1732711 or calling to The Bounty during office hours. Adult tickets €15 for stand or €10 for ground. Family tickets for two adults and two children costt €20. Connacht season tickets will be valid for this fixture.
Connacht double header against Leinster
Connacht will face Leinster in two youth interpros at Dubarry Park on Saturday afternoon. Admission is free to both these matches.
Six young Buccaneers were involved in Connacht U18’s 17-17 draw away to Ulster last weekend - a debatable penalty try earning the Northerners a share of the spoils.
Sean Rohan and Paddy Egan were among the Connacht try scorers, with Niall Tallon also have a fine game. Dylan Bolger, Charlie Byrne and Oisin Dolan are in the U19’s squad.
The U18s get the action under way at 1pm, and the U-19s follow on at 3.30pm. Admission is free to the youth matches.
Buccaneers Crush Young Munster
Buccaneers U20s kicked off their season with a fine 21-5 victory over Young Munster at Dubarry Park on Saturday.
This friendly proved a useful workout for both clubs with many players enjoying game time in a lively contest played in mixed weather.
Buccs got off to a flying start with Orrin Burgess breaking through the Munster cover for a splendid solo try. Ruadhri Fallon kicked a smashing conversion, but that was the kicker’s final contribution as he sustained a shoulder injury putting in an earlier thumping tackle in an impressive cameo.
The Pirates quickly extended their advantage when, after Luke Balsiger had claimed good lineout ball following a penalty kicked to touch on the right, the home pack drove over the visitors’ line where Cameron Brill applied the finishing touch. Fallon’s kicking was also equal to the task from the opposite flank, his conversion putting Buccs 14-0 to the good.
Young Munster responded, but were held up over the home line. However shortly afterwards, Gavin Daly was yellow carded for a high tackle, and Munster made them pay with an unconverted try.
Young Munster enjoyed possession without really threatening the home line as both sides made full use of their squads. Meanwhile Nato Kiripati looked like his break would yield a try, but Kian Smith did well to reel him in and avert a score.
Late in this entertaining affair, Fallon hit a sublime diagonal kick to Kasper Palamarczuk, and the promising Pole drew the final defender to send Jacob Phibbs racing away for a try wide on the left. Fallon completed the scoring with another excellent conversion as Buccs ran out worthy winners by 21-5.
Buccaneers’ Burgess, Fallon, Palamaraczuk, John Tatoo, Adam Flanagan and Cian McCann caught the eye.
BUCCANEERS: J Phibbs; B Daly, O Burgess, J Tatoo, M Glynn; R Fallon, E Friel; A Burke, C Brill, J Duffy; F McDonnell, C McCann; K Kiripati, G Daly, L Balsiger (c ). Replacements, E Shakhnazaryan, O Donoghue, A Cepi, L Giles, A Flanagan, Y Avrthtmi, K Palamarczuk and A.Bongiovanni.
YOUNG MUNSTER:- D Hiam; E Woods, D Shine, J Scahill, E O’Sullivan; K Smith, T Ross; K McGrath, D Keogh, S Farrell; O O’Reilly, J Rainsford (captain ); S Griffin, B Morrissey, J Murray. Replacements, N Kinnane, S Kerrisk, C Kerley, S Thompson, E Kelleher, A Birdthistle, J Shinners, W Hoffman, C Casey.
Referee: Cathal Ruddy (Connacht )
Seconds commence season away to Creggs
Buccaneers Seconds commence their season with an enticing Cawley Cup fixture away to Creggs at The Green on Saturday night (7.30pm ).
Both teams served up a couple of cracking encounters last season. Creggs edged the verdict in the league on their way to top that competition, but an improving Buccs dismantled the border club’s cup ambitions. Adding spice to this season opener sees two Buccs stalwarts Tony Dolan and Kolo Kiripati leading the coaching team at Creggs.
It is a very early start for junior rugby and hard to call at this stage. However, it is likely to be a flowing and entertaining joust that could go either way.