Buccaneers resume All-Ireland League action when they travel to Limerick this Saturday to tackle UL Bohemians at Annacotty. This Ulster Bank League Division 1B encounter kicks off at 2.30pm.
Buccs enjoyed a memorable performance on their visit here last season coming away with a clearcut win after a tight opening half. However, they can expect matters to remain close for the duration of this clash against UL Bohs who lie in fifth spot in the league table, three points adrift of the second placed Pirates.
UL Bohs have more or less the same squad as last season with Martin McPhail being a key operator in their backline where fullback Ed Torrie, and scrumhalf Cathal Sheridan are vital components. Their pack is hard-working and honest with prop David Kilcoyne in excellent form at present. Locks Ed Kelly and Dave Foley are solid with Sean Rennison, Sean Rossiter, and young Connacht player Conor Kindregan dangerous on the break.
A much changed and youthful Buccaneers squad has made a hugely promising start to the campaign, winning their three opening fixtures. Victories over Bruff at home and away to Ballymena were solid returns from decent team performances. The final scoreline in the most recent home win over UCD was much closer than it should have been but, hopefully, Buccs will have learned from that close call. The Athlone side excelled in the opening half and will need to reproduce that form more consistently. If they do, then John O’Brien, Paul Harte, and Shane Layden will poach scores while Jack Carty and Adam Kennedy can pin back the opposition. The pack is youthful too, yet competitive and mobile with Eoghan Grace and David Heffernan impressing and Daniel Qualter and Michael Kearney forming a formidable pairing in the second row. Young props Denis Buckley and James Robinson are being nursed along nicely by Garreth Halligan while Buccs will be hopeful that influential captain Kolo Kiripati will be fit to resume at No. 8.
It looks like being a keenly contested tussle with, perhaps, underfoot conditions being a contributing factor on a pitch that can hold water. Buccs must make their tackles count and be more clinical, but if they can maintain their workrate, cohesion and discipline from start to finish, then they can eke out a crucial away win.