ALEX HAYMAN is ‘Buccaneers Senior Player of the Year’ for season 2012/13. ‘Haggy’, as he is fondly known by teammates and supporters, is a highly worthy winner having put in a tremendously consistent series of performances for the Senior XV throughout a lengthy season. A strong-tackling centre with an eye for a break, Hayman had his best season to date for Buccs as his on-field leadership helped a youthful squad to fourth place in their All-Ireland League division. Although a Scot, Alex has played for England at two levels – Universities and Students! Hayman followed the trail of Mark Bruce from Loughborough College to join Buccaneers seven years ago and the club’s Matchday Programme of that initial 2006/7 season profiled that he “could be this season’s key recruit”. How right that assessment has proved to be in the interim as the popular, stalwart player has been a virtual ever-present in the First team since his arrival to Athlone, where he now works at Alkermes.
The Buccaneers Player of the Year Awards were presented at the club’s Annual Dinner Dance held in the Sheraton Hotel, Athlone. Following fine food and service, the formalities got off to a positive start when MC for the occasion Michael Silke started the proceedings by confirming the good news that Robbie Henshaw and Connacht would again be playing Heineken Cup rugby next season due to Leinster’s triumph in the Amlin Challenge Cup final earlier on the night. Incidentally, two former Buccs played in the decider, Sean Cronin for the victors and Paul Warwick, who came on at scrumhalf for Stade Francais.
A fine array of silverware was on view, including the Connacht Womens League trophy, the Ard Na Cregg Cup, the Connacht U-19 Cup and the Connacht U-19 League trophy. It was a case of ‘ladies first’ with the presentations when Buccaneers Womens Manager Claire Wyper presented the squad with their Connacht League medals after another magnificent season that culminated in qualification for Division 2 of the All-Ireland League. Great stuff from a team just two years in existence.
Mark O’Reilly then did the honours when presenting both Cup and League medals to the dual-winning U-19 squad so the future looks good for the Pirates. The Thirds lost just one competitive game, the Connacht League final, but they too were in raucous celebratory mood following their Cup triumph.
A very commendable six Buccaneers players represented Ireland during the season and club president Diarmuid Morrissey presented specially-commissioned pieces of Athlone Crystal to these players:-
Ireland Senior MIKE McCARTHY
Ireland U-20 & Wolfhounds ROBERT HENSHAW
Ireland U-20 JACK CARTY
Ireland U-20 CONOR FINN
Ireland U-19 SABA MEUNARGIA
Ireland U-19 JACOB WALSHE
The Buccaneers Player of the Year Awards winners from U-19 up to Senior then followed. Three worthy nominees in each team were announced and the relevant awards could have justifiably gone to any of them in each category. They too received Athlone Crystal mementoes and the winners were as follows:-
U-19 SEAN GALLAGHER
U-21 JAMES DONOGHUE
THIRDS TRISTAN COUPER
DEVELOPMENT DOMINIC GRIFFITH
WOMENS ELAINE CONLON
SENIOR ALEX HAYMAN
Club President Diarmuid Morrissey presented the above awards with Ian Moore of AUDI ATHLONE, Buccaneers title sponsors, doing the honours for the Senior award.
CLUBPERSON OF THE YEAR AWARD
The final award of the night was The Michael Hanley Perpetual Cup to the Buccaneers Clubperson of the Year. This is the third year of this coveted award and Diarmuid Morrissey eulogised this year’s winner as someone who has unselfishly and quietly served the club in many roles and capacities (including President as far back as 1984) over several decades. He was delighted to unveil the club’s PRO Michael Silke as this year’s Buccaneers Clubperson of the Year. Mrs. Eileen Hanley, whose late husband Michael is commemorated by this wonderful Cup, then presented the perpetual trophy to Michael Silke, who was somewhat bemused to receive a standing ovation from the gathering.
In accepting the award, Michael said that it was much easier to write the Buccs Notes than to stand in front of a crowd and speak! He congratulated the Buccaneers Player of the Year winners and the nominees, and also the Buccs players who had proudly represented Ireland during the season. He lauded the victorious U-19 and Thirds teams and particularly the Womens squad “who are such a breath of fresh air around the club!” He thanked all players and mentors involved during the season. Michael added he has “been involved firstly with Athlone RFC which then evolved into Buccaneers RFC for virtually 40 years” and to him “the Clubperson of the Year accolade is the ultimate honour.” He was “thrilled and privileged to be the recipient”. He added that “players primarily have the greater profile in a club but awards such as this confirm the immense contribution and importance of volunteers in a club such as Buccaneers”. He urged “more people to get involved in and support the on-going efforts and events around Dubarry Park.” Michael gratefully noted his nominator Michael Cleary and acknowleged the support of his wife Teresa before thanking the Hanley family who donated the prestigious Cup.
Club President Diarmuid Morrissey thanked everyone who came to the event and, in conclusion, presented a bouquet of flowers to Lorna Stuart-Trainor who organised it so smoothly. The night was rounded off by the live music of ‘The No Show Band’ followed by DJ Ray O’Reilly.