SENIOR LEAGUE DECIDER IN ATHLONE ON SATURDAY
BUCCANEERS and Sligo square up at Dubarry Park on Saturday with the Connacht Senior League title at stake in this winner takes all final round fixture which kicks off at 2.30 p.m.
The visitors have a slight advantage ahead of this crunch match, topping the table on 14 points having defeated Galwegians and Ballina allayed to a walkover against Corinthians. Meanwhile, Buccs are two points adrift on 12 points, a late fadeout in their narrow loss to Galwegians proving costly. In the interim they have comfortably accounted for Ballina and Corinthians both away and their scoring difference is a single point better than the north-westerners.
Sligo have a big, physical pack and will look to their pack to give them a platform to dictate proceedings. Kuba Wojtkowicz, Matthew Earley, Rob Holian and captain Jason East will pressurise the Pirates in the forwards exchanges. Calum Goddard, Brendan Cunningham and Enda Gavin are backs who can profit with the right supply while fly-half Euan Brown is a very consistent place-kicker.
Buccs have been chopping and changing their starting XV to date, due to experimenting with players and formations and also dealing with absentees through injuries and other commitments. Danny Qualter is unavailable this weekend and his absence could be significant as Ryan O’Meara will face a fitness test. Shane Layden and Rory O’Connor could make returns on Saturday when their experience and ability would be crucial but this match comes too early for the return of Frank Hopkins. However, some young players have really put their hands up for selection with Cian McCann, Fergus Galvin, Fionn McDonnell and Gavin Daly all doing well in their outings along with Darren Browne. Orrin Burgess, Adam Flanagan and Tom Shine have stepped up in the backs unit where another U-20 Ruaidhri Fallon belies his tender years with his sparkling performances. Stephen Mannion, Saul O’Carroll and Michael Hanley are other young players making their mark while Martin Staunton and Ruairi Byrne provide leadership and nous in the pack.
It promises to be a feisty affair with so much at stake with whoever wins assured of claiming the league title. Sligo, coached by Paddy Pearson, will bring big support so lets see hordes of Pirates roaring on Buccaneers on Saturday.
SECONDS HOME TO DUNMORE
BUCCANEERS SECONDS are home to Dunmore in the Cawley Cup with this Pool A fixture taking place under the Dubarry Park floodlights on Saturday, kick-off 7 p.m.