BUCCANEERS face their longest trip of the season when they head north to Eaton Park on Saturday to take on Ballymena in the second round of the Energia All-Ireland League. This Division 2A game kicks off at 2.30 p.m.

The Braidmen lost their high-scoring opener 40-24 away to Queens University. Like the midlanders they have a youthful squad with virtually all their forwards including the Browne brothers at lock being U-21’s. Nevertheless, hooker James McCormick helped himself to a hat-trick of tries against Queens so he looks like one to watch. Flyhalf Tim Small and scrumhalf Glenn Bailie, who captains the team, add significant experience to the squad while centre Sam Millar keeps a famous surname very much alive at the Ulster club. Rodger McBurney, James Whann and the recently married James Cundell can add a wealth of knowhow if added to the starting XV.

Buccs showed wonderful resilience in a really testing second half against Cashel. That will stand them to good stead at Ballymena where the Pirates have a decent win ratio. The midlanders should benefit from a little more preparatory time ahead of this contest. They look to have a nice mix of grit and expression so, hopefully, their long journey will prove fruitful.

Meanwhile our U-20’s have a home fixture against NUIG on Sunday, kick off 2.30 p.m.