NEW COACHING TEAM APPOINTED AT BUCCANEERS
BUCCANEERS have appointed a new coaching team ahead of the upcoming season. Following Eddie O’Sullivan’s departure the Athlone club has appointed Paul Byrne as Head Coach assisted by Benny Gilligan and David Henshaw with Craig Milling returning as Senior Manager.
All three coaches were involved with O’Sullivan, who had “to take a break from coaching due to starting a new business”, and the trio have been heavily involved with the Pirates for numerous seasons. Byrne and Gilligan helmed the Seconds, whom they revitalised to great effect, and have also enjoyed coaching success with various underage teams over the years following lengthy playing careers with the midlands club.
Henshaw was a formidable front row force not only for Athlone and Buccaneers but also for Connacht. He won an All-Ireland Senior League title with Garryowen and the Henshaw name has massive links at the club. He brings a wealth of high-level experience and nous to his role. Damien Shine takes up the reins at Director of Rugby while kit manager Martin Webster is a key back-up member as are physios Joe Smyth and Thomas ‘Jack’ Mannion.
The workload involved with an AIL squad is massive and, consequently, Paul and Benny have had to relinquish their direct coaching roles with the Junior team but they will be keenly involved with the new crew there too. Martin Staunton, recently retired after more than 200 AIL appearances in over a decade of sterling service for Buccs, takes up the mantle of Head Coach to the J1’s, where he will be assisted by Eoghan Slevin with Niall Harney elevated to Manager.
Conor Moran continues as manager of the J2’s while coaches are being actively sought to take charge of Buccs U-20’s squad. It is a brave but pragmatic move by the club to select “in-house” as Buccaneers bid to build on their performances in Division 1B last season. But all involved are capable and shrewd coaches and should be well up to the challenges ahead of them. Training commences on Tuesday, July 11th ahead of the new campaign