BUCCANEERS SECONDS throw down the gauntlet to league champions Connemara when the teams go head-to-head in the Connacht Junior Cup final at Galway Sportsground on this Easter Sunday. This hugely anticipated duel kicks off at 3.15 p.m. and it should be a cracking contest.
Connemara are serial winners at this level as they proved when defeating Creggs, who topped the league table, when the sides clashed in the Junior League decider. They overcame the Pirates narrowly in the league and then in the semi-final, both games played at their Monastery Field ground where conditions were not best suited to the young mobile Pirates. The Blacks were last in action when they lost their AIL Round Robin semi-final 40-17 against Bective Rangers. But they will be keen to finish their season on a high if they can achieve a League and Cup double.
But Buccs will be equally focussed to record a win for it is rare that the Seconds team of a club reaches the Junior Cup final. But the Athlone club have some history on their side in that regard with the Pirates, skippered by Adrian Hughes, capturing the coveted trophy in 2007. The current Junior squad have improved immeasurably over the season, being league semi-finalists and now contesting the Cup final.
Their primarily youthful squad has tons of potential and pace allied to quite a good amount of experience at underage levels. The firmer ground should be to their benefit as they proved when overcoming doughty Ballinrobe and fancied Creggs enroute to the decider. Their gritty Cawley Cup Plate win over NUIG last Sunday will have hardened them up and they will be bolstered further if Cian McCann, Ryan O’Meara and Rory Grenham are available for the forwards’ contest. Harry Balsiger, Jensen Nagle and Harry Hughes were absentees against the Students, having been involved with the Senior side at Cashel while Frank Hopkins and skipper Colin Daly were also unavailable against the Students.
They all bring quality, guile and focus to the Pirates crew and, with an astute management team including Paul Byrne, Benny Gilligan and John Doyle in the background, Buccaneers can readily upset the favourites.