Buccaneers U-12 and U-14 Girls teams were delighted to get invited to the recent end of season Shannon RFC Rugby Festival in Limerick where there were over 1,000 players, boys and girls, and ten teams in each Girls age group. The ten teams were divided into two groups of five teams playing four 12-minute matches over a two-hours period with the winner of each group progressing to the final.

The U-12s faced Castleisland, Bruff, Galbally and Naas, drawing v Bruff and Naas and beating Galbally and Castleisland to qualify to face Shannon in the final.What was notable was the advanced forward play of the opposition teams but the Buccs adapted and played a few huge spiral kicks from Eliza Mallon, skills learnt from ‘Leader Kicking’ events held in the club during this season. Shannon could not deal with these skillful kicks allowing our runners Rose Fleming, Coco Bassey and Emily Galvin to prosper. The final score v Shannon was 15-10 and we were overjoyed to be presented to the first silverware of the day by Connacht and Shannon RFC Legend Mick Moylett, current Shannon RFC Club President.

Buccaneers U-12:– Eliza Mallon, Sarah Goulding, Rose Fleming (captain), Emily Hanlon, Emily Galvin, Coco Bassey, Mellisa Bassey, Eadoinn West, Amelia Kenny, Rosie Doyle, Katie Gahan and Amber Gahan.

In the meantime, our U-14s were in big battles with Killarney and Bruff and had two hard fought drawn matches on small pitches. The score was 10 each on both games. Points shared. Next up was Shannon and a tremendous performance saw Buccs win 15-5 and progress to last round v Old Crescent who we were too strong for. There was some excitement with both Shannon and Buccs finishing on 12 points but the Athlone girls qualified for the decider having beaten Shannon on the head-to-head.

Next up was Garryowen on the main pitch. The Munster Cup finalists had won all their matches on the other side of the draw v Youghal, Fethard, Richmond and Tralee and maybe fancied their chances but Buccs had other ideas. The Pirates lassies got off to a dream start with Sally Fleming breaking the line to score a try. Garryowen were shocked and their coaches barked out instructions and Buccs faced an absolute barrage where our line defence, a focus of coach Declan Brady, stood firm and kept Garryowen (who basically owned the ball in the first half) at bay.

Of note was the strength of Garryowen’s rucking which was at a different level to what Buccs had experienced to date but we adapted. Jemma Eivers, Mary Margaret Ward, Cora Hannegan and Kate Mallon revelled in the physicality but space for our runners was limited. Possibly against the run of play at the restart Cora Hannegan broke, fed Mary Margaret Ward who burst a tackle, and Aideann Flynn was on hand but temporarily held up on the line. However, the ball was recycled to Mia Donnellan to go two tries up to the delight of the Buccaneers U-12’s, our parents who travelled and the home crowd who are great rivals with Garryowen.

Garryowen hit back with a very good line move ending up with powerful No.8 breaking three tackles to score; game on. Buccs were not finished and again attacked to be held up on the line and hemmed in Garryowen for the final minutes, which seemed never-ending. Then against the run of play Garryowen broke free but a last ditch tackle by fullback Olivia Collins held them up and we cleared the line, followed by the final whistle and joyous scenes.

Buccaneers U-14s captain Mya Russell was presented with the Zoe Horan Memorial Trophy by Zoe’s Mother and the emotions were high. This was a just reward for a great bunch of players and coaches. We were missing five players due to holidays and other sporting commitments so had to supplement our panel with two Ballinasloe players, Mya Donnelly and Kaitlan Donnellan who fitted in perfectly with this group.

Buccaneers U-14:– Mya Russell (captain), Mary Margaret Ward, Finn Dolan, Aodeann Flynn, Mya Donnellan, ,Jemma Eivers, Cora Hannigan, Sally Fleming, Kaitlin Donnelly, Kate Mallon, Chloe O’Connor, Sofia Ritze, Olivia Collins and Rose Fleming.

The icing on the cake was the further presentation of ‘Team of The Tournament’ award to Buccaneers U-14 Girls! So a clean sweep for Buccaneers against Munster’s finest. Bring on 2023/2024 Season!