BUCCS KICK OFF SEASON AT HOME TO CORINTHIANS
BUCCANEERS commence the new club season when they entertain Corinthians in the opening round of the Bank of Ireland Connacht Senior League at Dubarry Park, Athlone, on Saturday. Kick-off is 2.30 p.m.
The Pirates have a new look, in-house coaching group led by head coach Paul Byrne assisted by Benny Gilligan, David Henshaw and Eoin Slevin. Craig Milling returns to the fold as Senior Team Manager while Martin Staunton, who has retired after many years of sterling service on the playing fields, leads the Seconds coaching team.
Buccaneers have been back in training since mid-July and had a busy and productive full day training session on Saturday last. The squad, which has a youthful but lively look about it, will be skippered by Frankie Hopkins for the coming campaign. Unfortunately, recent surgery rules the captain out for the early rounds of the Connacht League so he will be looking to Danny Qualter, James Kelly, Ryan O’Meara, Michael Hanley and Stephen Mannion to set the tempo. Fergus Galvin, Cian McCann, Tom Shine, Sean O’Connell, Oisin Dolan and Cathal Walsh should be among the starters as could Conor O’Shaughnessy and Mark Earle who have joined from Galwegians.
Corinthians had a good All-Ireland League campaign, narrowly missing out on promotion, and are likely to field a relatively settled squad so will pose a strong threat for the hosts who are bidding to retain the title. Corinthians had three players in the Ireland squad that qualified for the recent U-20 RWC final – John Devine, Hugh Gavin and Fiachna Barrett. John and brother Matthew are of course sons of Mike Devine, one of Buccs greats.
The Connacht Senior League will give players a real opportunity to stake their claims for starting berths ahead of the All-Ireland League so an open and entertaining joust looks likely as squads are very much a work in progress at this stage. Meanwhile, training continues on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 7 p.m. and new players (with or without rugby experience) always welcome to come along to Dubarry Park.