CRUNCH FIXTURES FOR FIRSTS & U-20's this weekend | News | Buccaneers Rugby Football Club Athlone

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CRUNCH FIXTURES FOR FIRSTS & U-20's this weekend

published:Apr  17   2019

BUCCS SQUARE UP TO QUEEN’S IN PLAY-OFF

 

BUCCANEERS enter unknown territory when they take on Queens University in the opening round of All-Ireland League promotion/relegation fixtures on Saturday. The first visit by Queens to Dubarry Park kicks off at 2.30 p.m. It’s win or bust for both clubs and Buccs, being the higher-seeded club, have home advantage which they must capitalise on.

 

Queens arrive on the back of a tremendous winning streak, losing just one AIL match in 2019. In doing so, they have accumulated some high scores and, of course, have moved steadily up the Division 2A league table to qualify for the play-offs. The Blues have a slick backline, well capable of poaching scores. Their captain David Whitten can play at lock or in the back row and he was a teammate of Rory O’Connor recently on the Ireland Students team.

 

They will prove dangerous foes and Buccaneers must really hit the ground running and maintain their workrate, discipline and focus all the way to the final whistle. Communication and leadership, on and off the paddock, could be decisive. The midlanders did not risk utilising players carrying injuries or niggles against Naas so Shane Layden, Callum Boland and John Sutton are among those who could be returning on Saturday. Peter Claffey and Rory Moloney could also be recovered for inclusion but Simon Meagher unlikely to be fit while Conor Kenny and Darragh Corbett will both have benefited from returns to action at Forenaughts where a number of the younger players such as Michael Hanley and Brian McDonnell showed up well while Evan Galvin, Martin Staunton, Ruairi Byrne, Torin Rensford, Graham Lynch and Frank Hopkins can always be counted on to give of their best. Rory Grenham and Niall Farrelly are other solid options while the availability of Luke Carty, Colm Reilly, Conan O’Donnell, Corey Reid and Kieran Joyce would also be paramount to Buccs prospects.

 

Hopefully, coaches Peter O’Donnell and Aidan Wynne will have a full squad to select from for this “must win” encounter. If they have, Buccaneers have the talent and experience to get over what will surely be a tricky hurdle. With so much at stake for the Athlone club, the players can and must deliver. Large home support could also prove vital so let’s see a big crowd at Dubarry Park on Saturday.

 

U-20’s in Cup semi-final away to St. Mary’s College on Saturday night

 

BUCCANEERS U-20’s take on St. Mary’s College in the semi-final of the Purcell Cup at Templeville Road, Dublin, on Saturday night. This game was originally scheduled for Sunday next but, due to Leinster’s European semi-final at home to Toulouse on Sunday and Buccaneers crunch AIL play-off against Queens University, the U-20 game has been brought forward to Saturday with an 8 p.m. kick off. Here we must thank the Leinster League organisers and especially St. Mary’s representative for facilitating the change.

 

St. Mary’s overcame Buccs in both their league encounters but by narrow margins. The Pirates were unlucky at Templeville Road and underperformed at Dubarry Park. So there is little between these sides. But if Buccs can reproduce the flair and endeavour shown in the final hour of last week’s win over NUIG then they are well capable of coming out on top against St. Mary’s. But they would need to have key players such as Michael Hanley, Brian McDonnell, Harry O’Reilly and Darren Browne available. Fergus Galvin, James Kelly, Sam Kroupa and Sean O’Connell are other good operators in their pack. Dermot O’Rourke and Sean Flynn are exciting backs with Thomas McGann a top-rate try sniffer in a well-balanced squad.

 

Meanwhile Buccaneers U-17’s Connacht Cup final against Ballinasloe was deferred last week and this derby decider now goes ahead at Dubarry Park on Sunday week, April 28th. Kick off for this game is 1 p.m.