BUCCS HOME TO LANSDOWNE | News | Buccaneers Rugby Football Club Athlone

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published:Sep  11   2017


BUCCANEERS make their return after a decade to the top flight of club rugby in Ireland when they host Lansdowne in the opening round of this season’s Ulster Bank League Division 1A at Dubarry Park, Athlone, on Saturday. Kick off time for this hugely anticipated match, which is sponsored by Dubarry of Ireland, is 2.30 p.m.


This will be a massive step-up for the midlanders but they proved in their superb campaign last year when winning 15 of their 18 AIL games that they have an exciting and richly promising squad. The mainly youthful players also completed a Connacht Senior League and Cup double. With the iconic Kolo Kiripati finally retired, the Pirates have an equally talismanic skipper this season in Shane Layden.


Alan Gaughan, who has developed into a very good outhalf in recent seasons, Callum Boland, Luke Carty and Rory O’Connor are other exciting and versatile backs wearing the black and amber. Unfortunately, last year’s leading try scorer Jordan Conroy is ruled out through injury for this tie as is Mata Fifita. Conor McKeon and Frankie Hopkins vie for the scrumhalf role while teenager Thomas McGann could be a dark horse for a starting place. The returns of forwards Cian Romaine and Conor Kenny are akin to excellent new signings. New Zealander Dan Law will be looked to provide dynamism in the pack alongside other new recruits Peter Claffey, Conan O’Donnell and recent Ireland U-20 captain Paul Boyle, who wore Lansdowne’s colours last term. Martin Staunton, John Sutton and young Simon Meagher too will look forward to the challenges ahead.


Lansdowne had a trio of ex-Buccs in their ranks last season. Lock Josh O’Rourke (sometimes undervalued during his sojourn at Dubarry Park), prop Jacob Walshe and versatile back Charlie McMickan were all regulars until the latter sustained a cruciate injury that rules him out of Saturday’s joust. Other key players for the Dublin club could be outhalf Scott Deasy, No.8 Willie Earle and tighthead prop Ian Prendeville.  


Lansdowne have been highly successful and consistent in recent seasons, winning the AIL title in 2012/13 and 2014/15. They finished top of the table last season but were knocked out in the Top Four play-offs. They will be smarting from that disappointment so, under the stewardship of Mike Ruddock, will surely be fired up and focussed to go one better this time round. However, Buccs improved noticeably through their Connacht League campaign in which they successfully retained the magnificent trophy. That will have instilled confidence in the Shannonsiders crew and, if they continue to improve and develop under coaching duo Darin Classen and Mike McCarthy, they can really put it up to the visitors. But if they hit the ground running and are disciplined and committed from start to finish, they Buccs can get off to the best possible start in what will surely be a pacey and competitive encounter. Best of luck to all involved with this Buccaneers squad throughout the season and here’s hoping that a decent crowd can prove a vital 16th man for them on Saturday.

“Come on, the Buccs!”




SHANE LAYDEN will skipper Buccaneers in this season’s Ulster Bank League. The Co. Roscommon native has been a stalwart performer for Buccs since he arrived at the club and was vice-captain in last year’s Division 1B title triumph that achieved promotion. Shane, who has played underage Gaelic football for Roscommon, has served the club in a number of positions, primarily fullback, wing and centre. He is likely to feature at outside centre as club captain this term. Shane was capped by Ireland U-20’s and has played regularly with Ireland Sevens in recent seasons and has also worn the green jersey of Connacht. ‘Laydo’ can be counted on to lead by example and is wished all the best for the campaign ahead. 




Mick Grogan is the guest speaker for the pre-match event in The Bounty prior to next Saturday’s match against Lansdowne as Buccaneers play their first Division 1A game in a decade. Cover charge is €40 per person. This covers a 3-course meal with wine, free admission to a seat in the stand, and 100-page souvenir programme. Groups or individuals can be catered for. To book, contact Geraldine at 0861732711 or Pat Hynes 0876883833. 




AUDI ATHLONE has teamed up as title sponsor to Buccaneers Rugby Football Club for a seventh season. The team at Michael Moore Car Sales, the No. 1 Audi dealer in the Midlands, are delighted to again support the Pirates to whom they wish every success in Division 1A.  (See also separate item).  




BUCCANEERS WOMEN maintained their fine start to the season with a splendid 46-10 victory over Ballinasloe in round two of their Connacht Invitational Cup pool played at the Moher Road grounds on Sunday. Conditions were testing but the Buccs ladies adapted better against a youthful home squad playing their first competitive match at this level.


Buccs were able to give some more girls game time in this ten-a-side competition as well as a pair of debutants in Niamh Connell and Jasmine Willis, all who will benefit greatly from this exposure. The Hennessy sisters were in sparkling try scoring form again with Shannon notching a hat-trick of tries while Alex grabbed a brace as well as landing three conversions. Antoinette Kemmy, Tracey Finnerty and Sarah Kelly added to this bonus point win with a try apiece.


Buccs started very well and an early try helped them gain swift dominance on the proceedings. But Ballinasloe have enjoyed success at underage level and their girls will learn and profit from this experience. Meanwhile, Buccaneers can look forward to the final of the Invitational Cup, most likely against Castlebar on Sunday week.


BUCCANEERS:- Tracey Finnerty, Sarah Kelly, Lorna Stuart-Trainor (captain); Gohar Konstantyn, Antoinette Kemmy; Dearbhaile West, Sabina Egan, Aileen Hayes; Alex Hennessy, Shannon Hennessy; Judy Dowling, Donna Cromar, Niamh Connell, Jasmine Willis and Emma O’Brien.