Buccaneers Youth Awards
There was a large turnout in The Bounty for Buccaneers Youths Awards and the winners were:-
U-13 Player of the Year ADAM DONOVAN
U-14 Player of the Year DIARMUID CAREY
U-15 Player of the Year (Blue) KARL COLGAN
U-15 Player of the Year (Black) DARRAGH MURRAY
U-16 Player of the Year MATHIAS O’NEILL
U-17 Player of the Year JAMES KELLY
U-18 Player of the Year COREY REID
Congratulations to these stars of the future and also to all the nominees and those who received ‘Most Improved Player’ accolades.
Congrats to Connacht – the Conquerors
Congratulations to Connacht on their superb and stunning PRO12 final triumph. They were rampant winners and utterly dominant for vast swathes of the decider for a fairytale finish to an unprecedented season. Indeed the 20-10 margin does not truly reflect their superiority for referee Nigel Owens should truly have stopped play when Tiernan O’Halloran was injured in the lead up to Leinster’s solitary try. Five Buccaneers players including O’Halloran, whose dad Aidan hails from Moate, played in this historic victory. The fullback, one of the try-scoring stars of the day, had fellow Pirates Robbie Henshaw, David Heffernan, Rodney Ah You and Finlay Bealham in the Connacht match day squad. Well done to all involved, from Head Coach Pat Lam to others such as Jack Carty, Danny Qualter, Shane Delahunt and Conor Finn, who did not play in the final. Commiserations to ex-Bucc Mick Kearney of Leinster whose match came to a premature end due to a nasty injury.
Congrats too to Stephen McVeigh on his 21st birthday. Well done and good luck to Conor Kenny who has been selected on the Ireland U-20 squad to compete in the forthcoming Junior World Cup.
This writer is particularly delighted that Shane Layden has been named in the Ireland squad for the Amsterdam Sevens. The highly personable Layden has shown huge commitment, dedication and patience since incurring a cruciate injury last September and his efforts have been rewarded with his return to this squad who are bidding to qualify for the Rio Olympic Games. Meanwhile, in the recent Ulster Bank League Player of the Year Awards two former Buccaneers players won their division’s honours with Conor Kindregan (now at Cork Constitution) taking the Division 1A accolade and Brendan Guilfoyle (of Old Crescent) taking the Division 2C award. Well done, guys.
Buccaneers Tag Rugby Summer League
The League has commenced and continues on Friday evenings at Dubarry Park. At time of writing, there are some slots available for teams to join this popular tournament. Contact Yvonne O’Shea at 0860488090 to enter or for further information.
Buccaneers Annual Golf Classic
The event takes place at Glasson Country House Hotel & Golf Club on Friday, July 15th. Entry fee is €280 per team of four players for this Stapleford style competition in which the best two scores count. Fee includes ‘golf burger’ at the 10th hole with dinner afterwards in the golf club. Contact Geraldine at 0861732711 to enter.
Deepest sympathy is extended to Danny Qualter and family on the death of his grandmother Betty Qualter; to Martin and Joan Webster and family on the death of Joan’s father Patrick Hynes; to Sonny Gallagher and family on the passing of his wife Peggy; and to Sean Brooks and family on the death of his father Joseph. May they all rest in eternal peace.
Buccaneers AGM 2016
There was a relatively modest attendance at Buccaneers Rugby Football Club’s Annual General Meeting held in The Bounty on last Thursday. Honorary Secretary Padraig Ryan commenced proceedings by thanking all the club’s sponsors with particular gratitude expressed to title sponsors AUDI ATHLONE and ground sponsors DUBARRY of IRELAND. The operators of The Bounty were also complimented as were the Executive Committee members with special mention to Gerry McLaughlin and Brian Tallon, both of whom were not going forward for re-election.
The club’s pitches and facilities got greater use than ever before and Pat Hynes was greatly complimented in ensuring these were ready and available whenever possible. The revamped Lower Deck was a marvellous addition to the club’s resources, he added, and he noted outgoing President Joe Browne’s efforts in this regard. The P.R.O’s for both adult and underage rugby were lauded for ensuring Buccaneers endeavours were covered in the media and the club’s new website is ready for launch in the imminent future. The Ladies Committee were thanked for their efforts throughout the season. The 2016 Calendar put together by our Youths/Minis sections was a worthwhile exercise while ‘Strictly Scrum Dancing’ was the undoubted highlight of the year. The Secretary also pointed out some weaknesses in the club with finance having a difficult term. Fund-raising including the ‘Facilities Development Programme’ will need better support and ideas to generate revenue will be welcomed. In his wide-ranging report, Padraig also stated that a lack of referees is also a concern while consultation can also do with improvement throughout the club.
There was a long consideration of outgoing Treasurer Gerry McLaughlin’s financial report which was presented in a new format to meet IRFU requirements. Income was in line with the previous year but the loss of the Ireland U-20s fixtures impacted noticeably. Expenses increased in some sectors, notably due to facilities improvements including the Lower Deck, new storage building, toilets adjacent to the pitch, and work alleviating areas susceptible to flooding. Whilst the club’s debt is very manageable, Gerry pointed out that generating sufficient income to support the burst of growth in numbers and teams now playing rugby in the club will pose challenges ahead. He noted that our Youths and Minis teams were good ambassadors for the club and he thanked all our benefactors particularly AUDI ATHLONE and DUBARRY OF IRELAND as well as acknowledging the support of the crew at The Bounty and, of course, our Administrator Geraldine Kenny.
It was ladies first in the football reports. Numbers continue to grow in Womens rugby at the club and it is hoped that perhaps a second team may be fielded next season. On the playing fields, the Womens team contested the Connacht Cup final. The dynamism of our ladies needs to be embraced by the club.
In what was a transition year for our Firsts team, the season proved rewarding under new Head Coach Brett Wilkinson as the team reached the promotion play-offs in the All-Ireland League having won the Connacht Senior League earlier. Rory O’Connor was top try scorer in Division 1B and he was named Senior Club Player of the Year in Connacht.
The Seconds retained their 1A status in Connacht after a challenging season but now have players pushing for berths in the premier squad. Meanwhile, the U-20s endured a difficult campaign having qualified at a particularly high level in their first season in Leinster. Injuries did not help their cause whilst they also had a very young squad, many of whom are eligible again for the coming season. The input of Director of Rugby Jude Lennon was lauded.
Whilst only one team claimed silverware, Paddy Kenny’s report on Youths football indicated a very healthy season with most of Buccs teams in this sector challenging for honours throughout the year. Teams were fielded at U-13, U-14, U-16, U-17, U-18 and two at U-15. The U-16s proved pride of the pack, losing just one competitive match during the season. That was in the Connacht Cup final but they promptly avenged that setback when taking the Connacht League title the following weekend. The U-13 and U-18 teams also reached their respective Cup finals. Corey Reid played twice for Ireland U-18s.
In his final report on Minis football, Brian Tallon said this sector was now stronger than ever with nearly 300 players at this level. Buccaneers hosted six blitzes as well as three Connacht blitzes at Dubarry Park. Coaching courses were well attended and he especially thanked all the coaches and managers for their efforts throughout the season. Brian noted “a drop off of support by parents at matches” and he urged the club to find funding for a coach to go to schools in the area. Underage players provided mascots for all home AIL matches while an U-12 girls team has been formed. Buccs Minis won the best entry at the Athlone St. Patrick’s Day Parade and the first Easter Camp, organised by Jude Lennon, was a very successful initiative.
Outgoing President Joe Browne recalled “key events” such as the opening of the Lower Deck facility and the unveiling of the portrait of some of our international players there as he looked back on his year in office. The club “celebrated the long service and contribution of life members Derry Fitzpatrick and Paddy Cooney” and he told the gathering of how the U-16s players joyously roped Fitzy (who had coached most of them when they were Minis players) into their celebrations after winning the league title! In what was a great year, including World Cup caps, for Robbie Henshaw, the club made him an honorary life member which was “greatly valued” by the Ireland star. Conor Kenny was also congratulated on his Ireland U-20 caps and wished well for the forthcoming Junior World Cup.
Joe commented that ‘Strictly Scrum Dancing’ proved an unprecedented hit but this simply would not have happened without the huge amount of work put in by Geraldine Kenny. Lorna Stuart-Trainor was thanked for her input to the Gala Ball/Awards night.
Changing tack he continued that “Sustainability must be a priority” with the club’s finances where we “need to get the income/cost balance correct” and rejuvenated support is urged for our ‘Facilities Development Programme’.
The outgoing President thanked Leo Galvin for his numerous years representing the club at the IRFU. He also thanked the Executive Committee, particularly Gerry McLaughlin, Padraig Ryan, Pat Hynes and Michael Silke, for their endeavours throughout the year. He was especially grateful for the work put in by our Administrator Geraldine Kenny. He thanked all the club’s sponsors and hoped that the team at The Bounty and the club would continue to work smoothly together. In conclusion, he extended best wishes to the incoming President and Committee, and to Connacht in the PRO12 final.
The following officers of Buccaneers R.F.C. were elected for 2016/17:-
President Eddie Walsh
Senior Vice-President Mark O’Reilly
Junior Vice-President Tom Meagher
Honorary Secretary Padraig Ryan
Assistant Sectretary Paddy Kenny
Media Officer Michael Silke
Facilities Chairperson Pat Hynes
Minis Secretary Wesley Hudson
Commercial & Marketing Chairperson Yvonne O’Shea
Membership Secretary John Doyle
Senior Representative to Connacht Branch IRFU Ted Carty
Incoming President Eddie Walsh thanked Joe Browne who “had put his heart and soul into the club”. Eddie is “humbled and honoured to become President”. He is “always proud of Buccs, which is now a very big club.” Serving his “apprenticeship” over the past number of years, he has “been looking at the club’s workings. Some structures need changing, including the introduction of a Chairperson.” The club needs to bond better “with Youths, Minis and Adult sections all working together”. He also believes that “teams need greater support on match days” and, in conclusion, he assured all present that he “will work extremely hard” during his term of office.
Tullamore native Eddie Walsh joined Athlone RFC when he took up employment as a Civil Servant in the town in 1975. He played in the centre for the club on the First XV before captaining Athlone’s Seconds to a Connacht Junior Cup success in 1979. Injury brought a premature end to his playing career but he took up refereeing in 1985 where he has enjoyed a very successful career, first reaching the AIL panel six years later. When the game went professional, Eddie got a contract and he has officiated at top matches mainly throughout Europe. He has officiated at international level too, including an England v Wales Schools game at Twickenham in which Jonny Wilkinson dropped a goal to win the match for the hosts. He has also refereed at various International Sevens tournaments such as Hong Kong and Dubai. He retired from refereeing in 2004 and was honoured to be elected as President of the Association of Referees Connacht Branch IRFU the following season. In the interim Eddie has been busy in the role of Citing Commissioner at over 40 games in Europe, 6 Six Nations matches and did his 100th PRO12 match at the recent Ulster v Leinster fixture. His grandson Cilliene captained Buccaneers U-20s this season.