Buccaneers face a tricky test at Dubarry Park on Saturday afternoon when they host Garryowen in Division 1B of the Ulster Bank League.
The match will be preceded by the club’s registration day and u16s are admitted free when accompanied by an adult.
Buccs disappointed in last weekend’s opener at Malone, but a weakened squad featured several young and inexperienced players. Injuries to three key backs - Alex Hayman, Conor Finn, and Alan Gaughan - disrupted the side. Skipper Hayman is out for a number of weeks due to his shoulder injury, but Gaughan will be itching to be involved against the Limerick he served for the past three seasons.
Billy Henshaw, Jacob Walshe, and Sam McCormack should be available to bolster the Pirates who may also include Danny Qualter and Shane Layden depending on Connacht commitments.
Three times All-Ireland League champions Garryowen will not wish to stay in Division 1B for too long and they clearly signalled their intent with a comprehensive 21-3 victory over arch rivals Shannon in the opening round. Their back row trio of Barry O’Mahony, New Zealander Josh Hrstich, and the powerful Shane Buckley is their key line. All three are strong and quick operators who will be sure to pose serious questions for Buccs. Skipper and hooker Ed Rossiter is joined in the front row by Connacht’s JP Cooney. Scrumhalf Neil Cronin is a brother of Ireland’s Sean Cronin while Lorcan Bourke is sure to be a threat at fullback.
Buccs will need to be at their best for this attractive clash. Luke Satchwell, Kolo Kiripati, and Martin Staunton will have benefitted from the game at Malone as will debutants such as Shane Delahunty, Josh O’Rourke, Rory O’Connor, and Paul Gallogly. With a sizeable home support and more cohesive and sustained collective effort, the Pirates can be counted on to make this an interesting fixture.
Fielding a youthful squad Buccs came away empty-handed from their opening round of the Ulster Bank League visit to east Belfast where Malone recorded a 29-11 Division 1B victory at Gibson Park on Saturday. Malone were deserving winners, albeit the margin flattered the home side somewhat as the luckless Pirates conceded a final move try in fine, sunny conditions.
Buccaneers began with just five survivors from the corresponding fixture last season and included four AIL debutants in their starting XV, Conor Finn being the only Connacht notable available to them. Malone too gave youth its fling but backboned it with more seasoned operators including Ulster duo Connor Joyce and Alan O’Connor who had a major influence on the proceedings.