Buccaneers square up to Bandon in the semi-final of the u19 All-Ireland Cup at Galway Sportsground on Saturday, kick-off 2.30pm. Buccs captured this cup just two seasons ago and the current crop of rising stars will be keen to advance to the final in Naas. However, they will surely face a searching test from this year’s Munster kingpins from the home town of Graham Norton.
This is a well-balanced Buccs squad although perhaps lacking a bit of height in the pack. With Jacob Walshe unavailable, John Gormley, Scott Flanagan, John O’Meara, Conor McGrath, and Saba Meunargia will be battling for starting berths in the front row. Josh O’Rourke, Cian White, and Niall Carr are vying at lock while Ross Moony-Enraght put his hand up last Sunday for inclusion in the backrow where Evan Galvin, Brian Cooper, and Conor Morrissey have strong claims to start.
Scrumhalf Rob Ashe is the team’s only injury worry with Barry Goode a likely replacement if necessary. Ben Carty has the nous and skills to control matters at fly-half as well as being a prodigious place-kicker. The two Seans - Dempsey and Doyle - could form the centre partnership but Conor Langdon’s inclusion would not weaken this sector. Harry Hughes is a try-poacher supreme while Rob McMickan or Mark O’Reilly are very able operators on the other flank. Eoghan O’Reilly is a solid, attack-minded fullback so, all in all, this a pretty rounded band of Pirates.
Bandon claimed the scalps of Bruff and Sundays Well with home advantage but doled out a good beating to Highfield in the Munster final so they will pose a stiff test. However, Buccs too had a solid Connacht final win. Semi-finals are notorious, particularly as neither team wants to miss out at the penultimate hurdle. But, if Buccs play to their collective strengths, hold their nerve and keep both focus and discipline, then their experience of the Sportsground can be a vital ingredient against the boys from west Cork. They are certainly worthy of supporters taking the now short trip west along the motorway so let’s see and hear a big crowd cheering on these young Buccs.