BUCCANEERS AGM REFLECTS ON CHALLENGING YEAR
Outgoing President Patrick O’Meara welcomed a modest ‘live’ attendance to Buccaneers Rugby Football Club’s “belated Annual General Meeting” held in the Lower Deck at Dubarry Park. Due to Covid-19 social distancing was in place while, for the first time at an AGM of the club, further members kept in touch ‘virtually’ with the proceedings via Microsoft Teams.
Dr. O’Meara stated that he was “truly honoured and privileged” to have been President in what became “a strange season”. He paid tribute to all the volunteers who put in a huge amount of work but the club “always needs more”. Secretary Michael Cleary “with the work and time he put in was an immense help” to him. Although they “clashed at times, finances are in better order” thanks to the input of Treasurer Ken Flanagan with assistance from Eamonn Fagan and Geraldine Kenny. Facilities Manager Pat Hynes “does what he says” and Football Chairman Billy McMickan “did lots of unseen work”. “A lot of things would not happen” without PRO Michael Silke “who was such an asset to the club”. He acknowledged the “good work, humour and smile” of Administrator Geraldine Kenny and he thanked her for her voluntary work at the club during the pandemic lockdown. The input of Youths Secretary Brendan Wilkins was acknowledged with an added string to his bow in the “technical era”!
Dr. O’Meara was particularly grateful for “the amazing work of our Ladies Committee” and he noted “the topclass service” provided by The Bounty to Buccaneers. He duly thanked the club’s sponsors especially Audi Athlone, Dubarry of Ireland and Carty Meats.
Although “Covid-19 may hinder progress of the club”, he stated that Buccaneers “must have ambition to be the best we can”. He wished “the great hearted Kolo Kiripati” every success as new Head Coach while the club’s Academy driven by Joe Browne is “an exciting prospect”. Dr. O’Meara concluded by stating that “the club will be in safe hands” under incoming President Eamonn Collins.
Michael Cleary’s Secretary’s Report reflected on “extraordinary times” that brought “an early end to the season”. He reiterated many of the outgoing President’s commendations and singled out Pat Hynes who “although ill was still relentless in his role”. He paid tribute to Geraldine Kenny who was “a terrific clubperson” and he too noted her voluntary work. He thanked Zantha Meyer for her efforts when Child Welfare Officer and he wished Kolo Kiripati good luck as Head Coach. He appreciated the revamped website and also the recent members newsletter.
He too thanked all the club’s many sponsors and urged everyone to support The Bounty which has now reopened. Buccaneers fielded 21 teams during the season but he warned that everyone must pay their membership subscriptions.
Those who died during the year were remembered including two former captains, Frank Daly and Dan O’Dowd, as well as a former president Tom Purcell. The passing of Bree Meagher, wife of recent past president Tom, was noted too as was that of Sean Brooks, a stalwart of both Buccaneers and Ballnasloe rugby clubs.
Mr. Cleary concluded his report with the “hope that all get the same satisfaction from the club as he does.”
Treasurer Ken Flanagan prefaced his report by stating that “Covid-19 turned things on its head, curtailing income streams”. Nevertheless, “figures were quite similar to last year”. Rental income increased and sponsorship was sustained but membership subscriptions were down due to some “inherent dodging”! Overall the club sustained a modest deficit in the region of €3,000. He feared “an uncertain year ahead” and added that “we all need to support our sponsors in any way we can”.
Chairman of Football Billy McMickan commenced his report by thanking all the club’s volunteers, particularly coaches, managers and referees. Buccaneers Senior squad had “a difficult start to the season” with the loss of a goodly number of our more experienced players for a variety of reasons. No silverware in Connacht was achieved while the First team finished in mid-table in the All-Ireland League. “Recruitment and retention of players continues to be challenging. Talent is there to be nurtured but a young less physical squad” found the going tough against more seasoned opponents.
“The U-20’s was the most successful squad in the club”. They were in third place in the Leinster League and had a favourable Cup draw when the season ended prematurely. 13 of their squad got game time in the AIL and “the academy can bring players to the next level”. The J1 squad had a disappointing season and needs to be more competitive while the J2 squad was revived to limited success.
The relationship with Athlone Institute of Technology is critical going forward and has the potential to be a “joint success”. The exploits of Robbie Henshaw and Jack Carty for their provinces and Ireland confirms the potential in the club and he lauded all Buccs players who represented Ireland during the season. Billy thanked coaches Peter O’Donnell, Aidan Wynne, Michael Hardiman and Dylan Rogers who had put in a huge effort and he noted the dedicated effort of players such as Shane Layden and Evan Galvin.
Fixtures for the coming season were uncertain yet but he wished Kolo Kiripati, “who is a massive influence”, every success as Head Coach.
Judy Dowling gave a brief summary on Womens Rugby in the club. Early promise at the start of the season faded due to lack of numbers for various reasons. Consequently the team was not competitive but hopes for next season are brighter with quite a number of promising young players coming through. This is reflected by potential shown by Buccs U-18 and U-16 girls teams and it is hoped that an U-14 squad will field in the coming season.
Buccaneers youths continue to reach their goals of having more players and teams playing the game, and also more good coaches and producing quality players. 4 Buccs former youth players now have full professional contracts:- Jack Carty, Robbie Henshaw, Conor Kenny and Niall Murray. 5 Buccs players represented Connacht U-19’s:- Lasha Lashvilli, Martin Fallon, Darragh Murray, Harry Balsiger and Leo McFarlane. 8 Played for Connacht U-18’s:- Kieran Egan, Kolo Kiripati Jnr., Sam Fogarty, Adam Nash, Mark Mitchell, Adam Flanagan, Rory Fallon and Tom Shine. This is a tribute to both club and schools. It was encouraging to see ex-players, who have no siblings playing , giving back to the club as coaches. Extra players at nearly all levels contributed to success on the field typified by the U-14’s and U-15’s who both fielded 2 teams.
The U-18.5 squad who had won the U-17 Cup the previous year were slow into their stride. This was partly due to having 8 players away with Connacht and also playing senior league and cup with schools. They got going and were beginning to hit their straps when the season was curtailed.
The U-17’s had a mixed league campaign but the addition of several players gave them a huge lift. Beating Corinthians 22-0 in the cup quarter-final was an outstanding result and, with a home semi-final ahead, they were unlucky the season ended prematurely.
The U-16’s also had an influx of new players and took a while to integrate them. They can feel pleased with steady progress all year and enjoyed a cup winning trip to Westport before the season halted.
The U-15’s played over 50 players during the season, both teams reached league semi-finals with the ‘black’ team losing narrowly in the final to the full Ballinasloe outfit. The ‘yellow’ team capitulated to winners Sligo in the cup. But all in all a great season which augurs well for the future.
The U-14’s fielded two teams for the first time and both had excellent league campaigns with the ‘yellow’ side narrowly overcoming Corinthians in the A league final. Undoubtedly cup favourites this talented squad have improved all season. Fielding two teams is crucial at this level and these lads are reaping the rewards.
The U-13’s play in a non-competitive Connacht league and showed they are a strong squad which are improving all the time. This was a big year coming up from mini rugby last season and the boys rose to that challenge.
Marist College fielded at senior, junior, U-14 and 1st year; seniors and juniors got to semi-finals while U-14’s won the Connacht A league. Athlone Community College fielded at senior, junior, U-14 and 1st year. Juniors and U-14’s won their development leagues. Colaiste Chiaran fielded in the junior development league. Gallen Community College fielded at senior, junior and 1st year. Seniors won development league and shared development cup.
Youths and Schools report courtesy of Charlie Couper who is thanked for his input throughout the long season.
The election of officers for the coming season followed with Eamonn Collins taking over the reins as President. He thanked the members for electing him. He also thanked his predecessor and indeed all previous officers who had helped bring the club to its current standing. But he added “we have a journey to travel to where club should be” and he promised he would do his utmost to achieve that.