Buccaneers away to leaders St Marys
Buccaneers face a really stiff test on Saturday when they travel to Templeville Road to take on Division 1B leaders St. Mary’s Colleg in an enticing Ulster Bank League match, kicking off at 2.30 p.m. The Dubliners are looking good to make an immediate return to the top flight and will be counting on making home advantage pay in this fixture but Buccs can put it up to any side in this division when they are on song.
Indeed, the Pirates were more than a shade unfortunate to lose by four points when the sides met in Athlone in the early stages of the league. Not only were the midlanders understrength on that occasion but they sustained three injuries in the first half as well as a highly controversial red card to David Heffernan after a mere 13 minutes. Nevertheless, Buccs dug really deep on that occasion and the title favourites were glad to escape from Dubarry Park with their victory. Buccaneers look like missing some players for this game too with Stephen McVeigh’s ankle now in plaster and Shane Delahunt an injury concern also following his early enforced replacement against Dolphin. The Athlone side were disappointingly poor in that tie and their inconsistent form has been hugely frustrating. However, when the majority of their players are available and in tune, then Buccs are capable of some exhilarating rugby. Hopefully, next Saturday will be one of those days as they chase a top four finish.
St. Mary’s have a well-balanced and strong squad with Munster’s Ivan Dineen and Leinster’s Darragh Fanning being key players in their three-quarters line. Young outhalf Sean Kearns and speedster Terry Kennedy on the wing can trouble the visitors. Rob Sweeney leads the metropolitans from the front row where young hooker Hugo Kean is very promising. Lock Ciaran Ruddock and No.8 Kevin Sheahan are two other formidable forwards for the hosts. They will provide a massive challenge for the Pirates but if Delahunt, Conor McKeon and Rory Moloney in particular are fit and raring to go for the Athlone club, then a smashing contest is in prospect.
Other Buccaneers Fixtures
Buccaneers Seconds tackle Ballina in the Connacht Junior 1A League at Dubarry Park on Sunday, kick off 2.30 p.m. Ballina have now joined Westport above long time leaders Galwegians making it a Mayo 1,2 in this division. They trail the Bulls by three points and will be keen to keep their momentum going in the midlands. However, Buccs have real need of points too and this Pirates squad is fully capable of being much higher up the league table. Instead they are just a solitary point above basement club Connemara, who host leaders Westport on Sunday. So Buccs absolutely must take some reward from this home encounter as they strive to preserve their Division 1A status. Keith Grehan is eligible for this vital test as his red card was deemed sufficient punishment for his sending off last time out. He can count on committed support in the pack from the Byrne brothers, Scott Flanagan and Paul Gallogly while David Fagan and Darin Classen can provide leadership and guile to the backs for this crucial match.
Buccaneers U-20s may be enduring a torrid time in the Premier Division of the J.P.Fanagan Leinster U-20 League but, to their eternal credit, their mainly inexperienced and depleted squad continue to battle adversity with commendable spirit. They entertain Blackrock College at Dubarry Park on Sunday with a 3 p.m. start. They put in their best show to date when losing to Dublin University. Tom Finucane and Dean McMahon were their best performers and both were rewarded with a try apiece. Cameron Hertz completed the home scoring with a try and three conversions. Chris Moloney, Conor Morrissey, James Foley and Peter Flannery all made decent contributions for the Pirates and can be counted on to give of their best again against Rock.