History was made at Buccaneers Rugby Football Club’s Annual General Meeting when Lorna Stuart-Trainor was elected as the club’s president, thus becoming the first female holder of the office that her late father Owen held in the early 90’s. A considerably larger than usual attendance ensured much robust debate at a lengthier than usual AGM and, for the first time in many years, virtually every position of the club’s Executive Committee was filled.

Diarmuid Morrissey chaired the AGM and welcomed the sizeable gathering. His Secretary’s report, which covered all strands of the club’s activities, commenced the evening’s schedule. He described a mixed season, with highs and lows on and off the pitch, with the various areas covered in more detail by the following reports.

Director of Rugby Damien Shine presented the football reports. The late departure of the head coach meant that a new coaching team was finalised somewhat close to the season kick-off and a relatively young and inexperienced squad, that had lost a handful of players for varying reasons, struggled in the All-Ireland League, ultimately being relegated to Division 2A. Recruitment is in progress to bolster the squad’s ambition to secure a swift promotion to 1B.

The Seconds duly succeeded in their bid to make an immediate return to the Connacht Junior 1A League where they will be the only Seconds team competing at that level. They lost just one league fixture during the season on their way to winning the league title in a highly entertaining decider against Ballinasloe. Coached by Martin Staunton and his management team they won the Curley Cup final earlier in the year, making it a notable double.

The U-20’s had a new coaching duo in charge and commenced their campaign by claiming silverware, winning the Connacht Cup with a 100% record. However, their performances in the Leinster League Premier 2 Division were inconsistent and the squad did not fully realise their potential.

Four Buccaneers players were selected on the Connacht Junior squad which was captained by Martin Staunton. Ross Murphy-Sweeney, Sam Fogarty and Luke Balsiger also represented the province. Charlie O’Carroll and Jack Pollard were both capped by Ireland U-18 Clubs. Congratulations to all.

Off the field matters added to our Director of Rugby’s busy workload including the persistent inclement weather which necessitated countless pitch inspections. Discipline was another area that required attention and a ‘sideline manager’ is to be appointed for each team as “the club must do everything in its power to respect and support referees”. The need for a gym at the club is being tackled ahead of the coming season and a ‘GoFundMe’ fundraiser is now up and running. He wished Shane Layden, Danny Qualter and the aforementioned Martin Staunton all the best in their retirement after many years of sterling service to Buccs.

Damien thanked Peter Nally and ground-staff for their efforts throughout a difficult year weather-wise, Niall Daly and Declan Brady for their endeavours at Youth and Minis sectors, Tom O’Neill and Michael Silke for the exposure afforded to teams, to Tom and Paschal of The Bounty, and particularly the huge amount of work put in by “the lady upstairs” Geraldine Kenny.

Incoming President Lorna Stuart-Trainor acted as Hon. Treasurer for the past season following which the club recorded a modest loss. However, the club is in the fortunate position of having minimal debt. Fielding in excess of 20 teams is a costly affair and greater fund-raising needs to be done in all sectors of the club to match expenses. But there were many positives including the appointment of a second Development Rugby Officer which resulted in a further upsurge in youngsters taking up the sport. New kit suppliers, Azzurri Sport, has been contracted which will help generate income and all teams must purchase gear only from Azzurri. Solar panels are currently being installed on the roof of The Bounty and this should soon greatly reduce energy costs as will Led flood-lighting. Meanwhile, Buccaneers continue to explore securing sufficient funding for the provision of an all-weather pitch at Dubarry Park in the near future. Lorna especially acknowledged the assistance provided to her by Geraldine Kenny and Eamonn Fagan.

Outgoing President Brendan Wilkins was emotional in noting the support he received throughout his year in office especially at away fixtures. He thanked all involved in rugby at the club and any structural problems are solvable by those in the club with a five-year plan being drawn up. He valued the interactions of all in what was a challenging yet nevertheless rewarding year.

The following officers were elected to the Executive Committee of Buccaneers Rugby Football Club for the coming season 2024-25:-
President Lorna Stuart-Trainor
Senior Vice-President Eoin Reid
Junior Vice-President Sean Flynn
Hon. Secretary Diarmuid Morrissey
Asst. Secretary Amy O’Connor
Hon. Treasurer Michael Kiely
Asst. Treasurer Ray Flanagan
Director of Rugby Damien Shine
Media Officer Michael Silke
Facilities Chairperson Damien Phelan
Commercial & Marketing Padraig Giles
Youths Secretary Niall Daly
Minis Secretary Declan Brady
Girls & Womens Rep David Nolan
Membership Registrar Jacqui Pears
Ex-Officio Brendan Wilkins
Connacht Senior Rep Tom Meagher
IRFU Nominee Liam Rattigan
Inclusivity/CWO Rory Walsh