UNDERAGE SUCCESSES HIGHLIGHTS OF BUCCANEERS SEASON | News | Buccaneers Rugby Football Club Athlone

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UNDERAGE SUCCESSES HIGHLIGHTS OF BUCCANEERS SEASON

published:Jun  08   2018

Opening the Annual General Meeting of Buccaneers Rugby Football Club, outgoing President Tom Meagher welcomed a sizeable attendance to the AGM held recently in The Bounty. He thanked the members for honouring him as President and he “enjoyed his time in office” despite a challenging season for the Senior squad and “a very difficult year financially for the club”. He thanked all committee members, coaches and managers, players and parents and the support of his wife Bree and family. He gratefully noted the continued generosity of our sponsors and patrons but added “we need stronger fundraising by all sections of the club”. He was proud of the successes achieved on the playing fields by so many of Buccs underage teams.

 

The Honorary Secretary Michael Cleary commenced his comprehensive report by complimenting the club’s Facilities Manager Pat Hynes who in his “inimitable and relentless style” ensured that “the pitches were maintained very well” despite the difficulties imposed by the prolonged bad weather. Rugby is now more or less played all year round which adds to Pat’s challenges whilst “pitch improvements are ongoing”.

 

The Secretary reflected that it was “a disappointing season for our senior side” with mixed results for the more than twenty teams now being fielded by Buccaneers. He highlighted that our U-18.5 squad (who won a provincial league and cup double) “were denied All-Ireland opportunity through Connacht ineptitude”.

 

He complimented the outgoing President whose “Networking Lunch was highly successful” but “a financial black hole exists and this gap is not being filled”. The collection of membership subscriptions is below expectations and “defaulters are all too high”. A culture of “no pay, no play” must be adopted. “All teams should fundraise”. He thanked outgoing Treasurer Claire Wyper for her efforts and also our sponsors, particularly Audi Athlone, Dubarry of Ireland, Oliver Carty Meats, Direct Medical and The Bounty Bar & Restaurant.

 

The Secretary gave a lengthy mention to Buccaneers Media Officer Michael Silke “who reflects the club in so many aspects” and who had the previous week been a worthy recipient of the ‘Ulster Bank League Volunteer of the Year’ accolade. The contributions of the other numerous volunteers in the club were acknowledged too.

 

Michael Cleary noted that the club had “a unique model” in The Bounty, an excellent “relationship that has stood the test of time”. He thanked Paschal and Tom and their staff for their endeavours. Buccaneers RFC was also massively indebted to our Administrator Geraldine Kenny, “a rock whom we all lean on”.

 

The visit of the Ireland Senior and U-20 squads for an Open Training Session at Dubarry Park was a proud event at the club. Overseen by Senan Downes, it was a hugely successive occasion that attracted a massive attendance. The All-Ireland Colleges finals and Womens AIL finals were also hosted efficiently by Buccaneers.

 

The Secretary concluded his wide-ranging report by noting the passing of members or family during the season. Here Matt Vaughan (who held a number of roles including Fixtures Secretary over many years), John Morgan (whose expertise played a key role in the development of the club’s current facilities), Vincent Caffrey (Buccs first sponsor who remained a loyal supporter and benefactor) and Dairine Walsh (“the beloved daughter of our previous President Eddie Walsh”). May they all rest in eternal peace.

 

Presenting the Treasurer’s report, Diarmuid Morrissey commenced by thanking Claire Wyper for her work in this area. In a hard-hitting and straight-talking report, he stated that “the fund-raising efforts were insufficient to run the club”. There was an “inexplicable apathy to fund-raising, an unbelievable sense of entitlement” in some quarters and the club simply “cannot continue to function financially as is”. Insurance, heating and lighting, as well as transport are among the heavy financial burdens on the club. Very few teams had undertaken fund-raising events and the IRFU sponsored “Your Club Your Country” draw was a missed opportunity. He thanked the club’s sponsors and benefactors for their continued support.

 

Only one motion came up for discussion at the AGM. It related to fund-raising and led to a lengthy debate during which “a change of culture and attitude is needed” in this regard. “Too many members are unaware of club’s shortfall, which needs to be highlighted better” was one key comment from the attendance. “Radical ideas” are required and one worthy suggestion was that “a fund-raising committee should be set up, drawing from all teams” whilst “a five year plan” was also mooted. Clearly it is an area that will require much focus and work on from the incoming committee and wider membership in the year ahead.

 

Chairman of Football, Billy McMickan, reported that “the Firsts had a contrasting season compared to the previous year”. The height of promotion then was followed unfortunately by relegation this season, not helped by the untimely departure of head coach Brett Wilkinson to Hong Kong and and the loss of quite a number of players due to a variety of reasons. Ideally the club needs to be more self-sufficient re players for the senior squad if we are to compete at the top level. The Firsts retained the Connacht Senior League title for the third successive season. He thanked Darin Classen, Mike McCarthy, Tom Conlon and Pat Hynes in particular for their Trojan work in a difficult campaign.

 

The Seconds retained their Connacht 1A League status despite struggling for numbers. Alex Hayman was thanked for his endeavours with this squad. The U-20’s league campaign petered out to a mid-table finish and they were unlucky in the Cup. The Womens team featured quite a number of ‘newbies’, yet reached two Connacht finals. They would have benefited from more fixtures.

 

Twelve Buccaneers players represented Ireland at various levels during the season. This is an excellent achievement for a rural club. Robbie Henshaw is the leading light here, enjoying a memorable year in which he became the club’s first member to play for the British & Irish Lions as well as being a key cog in Ireland’s Six Nations grand slam championship success and Leinster’s Champions Cup and PRO14 double.

 

Eamonn Collins reported on Youth rugby where the Connacht League and Cup double achieved by our U-18.5 team was the highlight. They are “the most successful side in the club and have huge potential”. Frustratingly they did not get an opportunity to pit their wits against the other provincial champions.

 

The U-17 squad (“a strong group”) had “a roller coaster season” that culminated in a Connacht Plate triumph. The U-16’s “turned the corner to put in a superb final display” that earned them the Connacht Plate success. At U-15 level, the development squad won their league while the U-14’s are “a work in progress where numbers are increasing”. The U-13’s have a large squad that “can reap rewards in the future”.

 

Meanwhile girls playing numbers continue to increase and the U-18’s won the Connacht Plate while the U-15’s narrowly lost out in their Plate decider. A number of girls represented Connacht. Large numbers play at all grades in the Minis section and one team had the honour of playing at the Aviva Stadium during the season.

Charlie Couper, Mele Kiripati and Giovanna Hudson-Magliocca were singled out for praise in respect of their efforts at underage rugby.

 

The election of officers for the coming season then commenced, at which stage Tom Meagher thanked Tom and Paschal and all the crew at The Bounty “for their courtesy and service”. He duly thanked the hard-working Administrator “for holding his hand during his time in office” and, as a mark of appreciation, presented Geraldine with beautiful orchids. On behalf of his family presentations were made to Michael Cleary, Tommy Conlon, Billy McMickan and Michael Silke, “people who make the club, working day and night, helping continuously throughout the season”.

 

The following officers of Buccaneers RFC were elected for season 2017-18:-

President                                Gordon Ballantyne

Senior Vice-President            Patrick O’Meara

Junior Vice-President             Eamonn Collins

Hon. Secretary                      Michael Cleary

Chairman of Football            Billy McMickan

Media Officer                         Michael Silke

Facilities Manager                 Patrick Hynes

Membership Secretary         Diarmuid Morrissey

Representatives to the

Connacht Branch IRFU           Ray Fagan and Patrick Whelan

Ex-Officio                                Tom Meagher.

 

GORDON BALLANTYNE new club President.

 

Incoming President Gordon Ballantyne stated that “as an Athlonian, it was a pleasure and an honour to become President of Buccaneers Rugby Football Club”. It is “a family club” and “all strands must work together to function”. With events such as the Ireland camp and All-Ireland Colleges finals hosted here, the club displayed its capabilities with volunteers to the fore. A number of areas concern him, including finance (“we must get on top of it”) and membership. He wished all teams every success in the coming season and extended the best of luck to incoming Head Coach Christian Short. Gordon thanked his predecessor Tom and family “for their input during the year”.

 

A retired dentist who has been a life long member and supporter of the club, Gordon has two sons Elliott and Gregory. His partner Kay Moran “has a long association with the club and she is sure to be a great help” to him.

 

TAG RUGBY SUMMER LEAGUE

 

The annual Tag Rugby Summer League continues weekly on Thursdays all the way to the finals night which will take place on Friday, July 27th. Log on to www.irfu.ie for details or to enter a team.

 

GOLF CLASSIC

 

Entries are now being taken for Buccaneers Annual Golf Classic which takes place at Glasson Golf Club on Wednesday, July 25th. Remember, the earlier you book the better tee-off slot available! Phone Geraldine at 0861732711 to enter.

 

SUMMER CAMP

 

Connacht Rugby Summer Camp takes place at Dubarry Park from Monday, August 13th to Friday 17th from 9.15 a.m. to 1.30 p.m. daily  Log on to COMMUNITY.CONNACHTRUGBY.IE or phone 091561568 to book.

 

CONDOLENCES

 

Deepest sympathy is extended to the family of life member David Fletcher who died recently. Heartfelt condolences are also extended to the families of Ennis U-15’s players Jack Kenneally and Shay Moloney who died tragically in a double drowning last week. Both young highly promising players featured when Ennis hosted Buccaneers U-15’s on April 28th last. May eternal peace be granted to them.