Buccaneers commence the new club season when they entertain Corinthians in the opening round of the Bank of Ireland Connacht Senior League at Dubarry Park, Athlone, on Saturday, kick-off 2.30pm.
The Pirates have a new look, in-house coaching group led by head coach Paul Byrne assisted by Benny Gilligan, David Henshaw and Eoin Slevin. Craig Milling returns to the fold as senior team manager, while Martin Staunton, who has retired after many years of sterling service on the playing fields, leads the Seconds coaching team.
Buccaneers have been back in training since mid-July and had a busy and productive full day training session on Saturday last. The squad, which has a youthful but lively look about it, will be skippered by Frankie Hopkins for the coming campaign. Unfortunately, recent surgery rules the captain out for the early rounds of the Connacht League so he will be looking to Danny Qualter, James Kelly, Ryan O’Meara, Michael Hanley and Stephen Mannion to set the tempo. Fergus Galvin, Cian McCann, Tom Shine, Sean O’Connell, Oisin Dolan and Cathal Walsh should be among the starters as could Conor O’Shaughnessy and Mark Earle who have joined from Galwegians.
Corinthians had a good All-Ireland League campaign, narrowly missing out on promotion, and are likely to field a relatively settled squad so will pose a strong threat for the hosts who are bidding to retain the title. Corinthians had three players in the Ireland squad that qualified for the recent U20 RWC final – John Devine, Hugh Gavin and Fiachna Barrett. John and brother Matthew are of course sons of Mike Devine, one of Buccs greats.
The Connacht Senior League will give players a real opportunity to stake their claims for starting berths ahead of the All-Ireland League so an open and entertaining joust looks likely as squads are very much a work in progress at this stage. Meanwhile, training continues on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7 p.m. and new players (with or without rugby experience ) always welcome to come along to Dubarry Park.
Next Saturday is a monumental day for Leo Galvin who will finally be presented with his Senior International cap at a function in the Aviva Stadium ahead of Ireland’s fixture against England. The presentation will celebrate Leo playing against Argentina. Richly well deserved, Leo, and long overdue. Carpe Diem.
Congratulations All Round
Congratulations to Buccaneers players Tom Sheehan and Jack Pollard who touched down for two tries as Ireland U18s defeated Wales 7-5 and Scotland 19-5 before losing to Italy 29-5 in a training tournament held in Cardiff. Meanwhile, Buccs quartet Kailin Blessing, Kyle Byrne, Andrew Henson and Kyle Mahon played for Connacht U17s who defeated Munster and Ulster but lost narrowly to Leinster.
It was a good weekend too for Buccaneers U14 girls squad who made a successful long trip north to Enniskillen. They had an early start to their day and indeed to their season but came home with silverware following a 33-7 victory over the Co. Fermanagh club to be the first winners of the Michael Scallon Junior Perpetual Cup. Two tries late in the first half gave the Buccs girls the initiative and their fast attacking breaks allied to strong defensive work proved too much for the northerners. After the Cup was presented to captain Sally Fleming, they got to see Merissa Kiripati in action for Connacht U-18s against Ulster.
Finally, well done to Connacht Womens team on their dramatic victory over Leinster. Ivana Kiripati started at No 8 in this rare win with Aoibheann Reilly being particularly influential at scrumhalf, a position in which her brother Colm is also highly adept.
Cash for Clobber
Buccs ‘Cash for Clobber’ is back until the end of August. Clean clothes, towels, bed linen (but no duvets or pillows ), handbags, hats, scarfs, curtains, paired shoes and belts welcome. Bags containing items may be dropped in to the first dressing room at the club or contact Geraldine at 0861732711.
Minis Coaching Changed to Sunday
Important notice for parents re minis training. Coaching for Under 5s to 12 year olds will take place on Sunday mornings at Dubarry Park this coming season. Sessions will commence at 10.30am for approximately one hour. Starting date is September 10 and new players very welcome at all age grades.
Training for U16 and U18 girls teams takes place at the club on Mondays with coaching from 7pm to 8.30pm. Beginners invited to come along and give rugby a try.
Deepest sympathy is extended to the family of Larry Caulfield on his unexpected passing. Larry is an uncle of Eoin Slevin, currently one of Buccaneers Senior squad coaches, and brother-in-law to former players Kieran and Padraig Slevin. Larry’s late brother Tom was the club’s groundsman for many years.