BUCCANEERS resume Energia All-Ireland League action on Saturday with the return fixture against Naas taking place at Dubarry Park. Naas ended Buccs impressive seven match winning streak with a final kick of the game penalty that went over via an upright at frosty Tullow RFC. Nevertheless, the Athlone club commence the second half of the campaign still topping Division 2A, one point ahead of City of Armagh (the only other team to overcome the Pirates).

Buccs were below par in their pre-Christmas defeat in that fixture that was switched from snow covered Forenaughts. Shane Jennings, Oisin McCormack and Darragh Murray were all involved with Connacht on that date and it is likely that the midlanders will see less of this trio (particularly the latter) in 2023. Regardless, they had the opportunity to defeat Naas but did not take it, too many wrong options and unusual sloppiness not helping their cause.

Buccs will need to be firing and focussed from start to finish come Saturday. If the pack puts in a decent shift, then the home backline has the pace and panache to score. The Cobras are unlikely to be too accommodating for they have been playing better than their results indicated and their win over the Shannonsiders has given them some breathing space over the bottom two clubs.

John Sutton, now a member of their backroom team, would love to put one over the Athlone outfit! Of course, Naas have quite a number of connections with the Dubarry Park club including current Buccaneers president Billy McMickan who played for Naas in the last millennium while former Athlone players Denis Murray and Vincent Keogh are both involved with the Co. Kildare club.
If Buccaneers play to their potential they can get back to winning ways but will need a committed and disciplined team effort from start to finish to prevail. Kick-off is 2.30 p.m.


BUCCANEERS SECONDS could not have had a tougher draw to start their Connacht Junior Cup bid by having to travel to the western seaboard to square up to holders Connemara at the Monastery Field in Clifden on Sunday where the action commences at 2 p.m. with extra time to be played in the event of the teams being level at the end of normal time.

The Blacks are bidding for a three-in-a-row Cup triumphs and on home soil will be fancied to advance. They are physically strong and streetwise so it will be a huge hurdle for a young Buccs squad to overcome. However, the Pirates really put it up to the Clifden side in last season’s high-scoring Cup final and then did not take their chances when losing narrowly at home to Connemara in the league this season. Buccaneers did not repeat their promise of last season pre-Christmas but will be buoyed by their rampant victory against Monivea last Sunday. The young players finally clicked as they scored 13 tries, yet there is room for further improvement and coaches Paul Byrne and Benny Gilligan will be fine-tuning their charges this week for a massive and sustained effort out west. There is great potential in the Pirates crew who, if they are smart and disciplined, can upset the predictions if they build on last week’s display.


BUCCANEERS THIRDS are also on the road on Sunday, heading north-west to Cloondeash where they face Castlebar Seconds in the Connacht Junior 2A League, kick-off 2.30 p.m. There is guile and craft aplenty in this Buccs squad who put in a hugely committed effort to pip Galwegians last Sunday. If they can reproduce that form, they can make it a winning trip to Co. Mayo.


Completing a busy weekend of fixtures is the crunch J.P.Fanagan Leinster League Premier 2 clash between Buccaneers and Corinthians at Dubarry Park on Sunday afternoon, kick-off 2.30 p.m.

Yes, both clubs may hail from Connacht, but they are among the pacesetters in this competitive league. Corinthians trail Terenure College in second place with Buccs hot on their heels in third. The Galway side defeated the Pirates 29-21 in their qualifying pool game which subsequently counted as Corinthians home league fixture. Their bonus point win, based on the influence of their massive front five, helps them to their current four points advantage on the league table.

Buccs were not particularly well organised at that early stage of the season but were unlucky, nevertheless, to come home empty-handed from that contest. They will be a more formidable outfit this weekend and Cian McCann, Tom Shine, Oisin Dolan, Orrin Burgess, Gavin Daly and Adam Flanagan will be among those keen to make amends, although Ruaidhri Fallon’s likely absence will be a loss. This looks like being a cracker that could go either way but the Pirates must make home advantage pay.

Congratulations to outhalf HARRY WEST on his inclusion in the Ireland U-20 squad.