Buccaneers’ final fixture of the season takes place at Dubarry Park this Easter Saturday when Ballynahinch come to Athlone, kick off 2.30pm. The Ulster Bank League Division 1B trophy and medals will be presented to champions Buccs after the game.
Buccs have the most clearcut lead at the top of all five AIL Divisions, but they will be eager to finish the season on a high in front of their own supporters.
Bolstered by Ulster duo Peter Nelson and Justin Rea, Hinch secured a crucial 16-14 last-ditch win at Naas two weeks ago when David McGuigan scored an end-to-end try in the final move of the game. The flanker is one Buccs will need to curb on Saturday as is another Ireland Sevens player Aaron Cairns on the wing.
David Busby and Blane McIlroy are other tidy backs while prop Craig Trenier and lock John Donnan are powerful forwards. Ulster experienced trio Connor Joyce, Sam Windsor, and Lorcan Dow all played against Buccs last September but have not featured of late nor has former Pirate Steve McCauley. The northerners lost 13-8 at home to second placed UL Bohemian last Saturday but the losing bonus point ensures they have no relegation fears now.
Attitude and application will surely be spot on for this encounter, particularly as it is likely to be the final match for the one and only Koronato (Kolo ) Kiripati.
The Pirates’ inspiring skipper has had a massive influence and has been an exemplary servant since coming to the club almost a decade ago. He has really rolled back the years, week in week out, this season. Buccaneers must send him off on a winning note and all involved with the squad will surely do their utmost to ensure this outcome.
Buccaneers’ magnificent title-winning Ulster Bank League Division 1B campaign continued on the back pitch at Thomond Park where they defeated Shannon 19-13 on Saturday. In glorious sunshine, this was a terrifically competitive encounter between two teams who relished the firm underfoot conditions as both sides had much to play for.
Shannon, with one eye over their shoulder on the relegation mire, still had ambitions of being involved in the promotion play-offs. Buccs had pride to play for and they laid the foundation of this hard-earned but merited win when playing against the significant breeze in the opening half.
Kiripati and Danny Qualter were outstanding in the Pirates pack and Shane O’Leary was composed in the backline where Rory O’Connor was threatening on the wing. Meanwhile, Shannon’s lingering hopes of a promotion playoff were dashed but their losing bonus point secures their Division 1B status.