Buccaneers bid to finish the season on a high when their u19 squad chases All-Ireland cup glory in what should be a highly competitive final against Malone at Forenaughts, home of Naas RFC on Sunday. This bank holiday cracker kicks off at 3pm.
Buccaneers have a talented and hugely promising panel of players at this particular level with a magnificent seven having worn the green of Ireland recently at various grades. Jack Carty skippers the side from the pivotal standoff berth, a position he has nailed down on the Buccs senior side. He is honing his skills at outhalf and is a prodigious kicker who can keep the opposition penned back. Likely full-back Callum Boland and Ireland u20 lock Daniel Qualter are another pair who have featured regularly for the Pirates First XV this term. In the three-quarters line, cousins Robert Henshaw and Conor FitzGibbon both made key contributions to winning Ireland u18 teams recently as did scrumhalf Barry Digby.
The main players must lead by example, something they are well capable of, thus bringing the best out of their colleagues. Much is likely to depend on how the forwards’ battle pans out and, if the young Pirates can hold their own here, then they have the class and pace in the backline to make possession pay dividends. Here Conor Hanniffy and Bryan Teape can lay the necessary foundations with the aggressive industry of the likes of Eunan McBrearty, James Donoghue, Aidan Connaughton and John Dooley making life very difficult for the Belfast outfit. John Dooley, Mel Corbett, Conor Seery, and John Maguire are other young Buccs who will surely relish the challenges posed, and they will not shirk duty or be found wanting if called upon to bolster the efforts of their more illustrious teammates. Lee McLoughlin, Glynn Carey, Eoghan Casey, and Christy Haughian will by vying for starting places in the pack while Liam Claffey, Alex McArdle, Robert Corcoran and Cian O’Reilly would relish getting their chances in the backs’ unit.
Not much is known of Malone but the northerners must be a decent outfit to come out of Ulster and then overcome their Leinster counterparts in the semi-final. Taylor Acheson, Ben Uprichard, Zach Devine, and Johnny Ogilby are a quartet with provincial experience with Ulster, and their influence both individually and collectively must be curbed.
However, while Buccaneers will grant them due respect, the Athlonians overcame holders Waterpark in their semi-final and have some strength in depth and a good balance throughout their squad. If they play to their strengths with sustained focus and discipline, then they have the overall skills and power to impose themselves on the proceedings that could well go down to the wire. But if they produce the support work that they are capable of, and take the chances that will surely come their way, this band of young Buccaneers can grab All-Ireland glory in this Mayday Sunday showdown.
Admission is only €5 per adult with youths and children being admitted free. Burgers and other nibbles are on sale on the day at the venue. So let’s see a big turnout of supporters from the Midlands in Naas, making lots of noise from start to finish. As the Buccs’ game is preceded by the u17 final between Galwegians and Gorey at 1pm, fans are urged to come along in good time. The ground is near Johnstown, just off the motorway near Naas, and is well sign posted.