Buccaneers continue their quest for promotion travelling south to The Mardyke in Cork where they take on University College Cork as the Ulster Bank League enters the final straight.
The Students have not quite secured their 1B status yet, so will be battling for points while victory would virtually assure promotion for the Athlone side.
UCC have a potent backline that includes a pair from the famed Kiernan clan in Paul and James. Tom Kiersey, and Charlie O’Regan are lively options at half back and Kevin Slater is strong in the three-quarters line. Wing Kevin O’Keeffe is one of the division’s leading point scorers. Paul Derham is key in the College pack, where Richie Moran, Daire Feeney, and Rob O’Donovan can trouble the Midlanders.
Buccs will be hoping that Alan Gaughan, who sustained an injury at training last week, will be fit, while good ground could enable Jordan Conroy to add to his try tally.
Buccs maintained their relentless drive for promotion when they defeated Dolphin 19-5 in an Ulster Bank League Division 1B game at sodden Dubarry Park on Saturday.
The Pirates got off to a perfect start, Luke Carty’s crossfield kick being gathered by Jordan Conroy to score an unconverted try wide on the left after seven minutes. But Dolphin dominated territory and possession for lengthy swathes of the opening half in a game that was in total contrast to the Pirates’ affair away to UL Bohemian last time out.
In the second half, Buccs raised the tempo and got a foothold in the Cork side’s 22. There, following a scrum, the ball was moved left and Rory O’Connor fastened onto Carty’s perfectly angled grubber kick to swoop for a 48th-minute try. Carty added a terrific conversion but Dolphin responded when Eoin Griffin perhaps could have reacted more sharply to cut out Keeshan’s long clearance.
Instead the home substitute was forced to tap the ball into touch close to the home line and Dave O’Mahony surged his way over in the right corner following the lineout for a 54th-minute try. Cian McGovern was unable to convert from near the touchline and he was also off-target with a penalty 10 minutes later.
The Pirates got the breathing space they craved when Dolphin were forced to carry a chip ahead over their own line. From the ensuing scrum, Buccs drove the Cork side’s pack over their line where Kolo Kiripati grounded the ball and Carty added another top-notch conversion.
Buccs now lead the league table by 16 points with four matches remaining.