Booth and Webster the major winners at Buccaneers awards
Ciaran Booth and Martin Webster were the major winners at the Buccaneers RFC Awards at the Shearwater Hotel, Ballinasloe last Saturday night.
Dynamic backrower Booth was named Buccaneers Senior Player of the Year, while long-serving club stalwart Webster was a worthy recipient of the Club Person of the Year accolade.
Club President Eamon Collins welcomed the large attendance, including representatives of major sponsors Audi Athlone and Dubarry of Ireland, to the first awards event following the pandemic lockdown.
“It’s good to be able to go out for a night-out again and especially with the club having so much to celebrate as can be seen from the impressive collection of trophies on display,” said Eamon.
“Every team in the club did themselves proud from U-13s all the way up to the Seniors who won promotion in the All-Ireland League as well as a Connacht Senior Cup triumph.”
Buccs players continue to represent the club on various Ireland teams and indeed on the British & Irish Lions, and presentations were made in respect of eight Buccaneers who played for Ireland this season as well as another six from the preceding year.
Booth, a recent Ireland U-20 Six Nations winner, may be one of the club’s few “exiles” but he truly bought into Buccs’ ethos. Not sure whether he supports red or blue in his native Manchester, but when he dons the black and gold of Buccaneers he is a dynamic on-field presence.
Ciaran was among the club’s leading try-scorers during the AIL campaign and a healthy proportion of his tries were spectacular efforts from deep in his own half. Although still very young, he is a real leader in the group, both on and off the pitch, and an eminently worthy recipient of Buccaneers Senior Player of the Year award.
Aoibhe gave up Gaelic football at county level two years ago to give rugby a try with the Buccaneers U-18 squad. Her commitment and dedication this season have been a driving force in the re-establishment of the club’s Senior women’s team.
When Aoibhe puts on her gold and black jersey she transforms into a ‘pocket rocket’ who does not shy away from any tackle. She has scored a try in virtually every match this season and her displays at scrum-half have resulted in Aoibhe being invited to Connacht training. This giggly girl is Buccaneers Women's Player of the Year!
Affectionately known as ‘The Cedgehammer’, Cedric is the quiet assassin of Buccaneers Junior team whether it is dismantling opposition scrums or producing crunching tackles. He diligently goes about his business with near ruthless efficiency. Cedric is an extremely popular and well-respected teammate. Coaches and players alike were unanimous in their choice of Cedric as Buccaneers Junior Player of the Year.
McCann is a prodigy from Leinster underage club rugby with his home club Portarlington RFC who jumped at the chance to join Buccaneers after coming through Connacht Coach of the Year Charlie Couper’s rugby programme at TUS Athlone.
McCann burst on the scene here with a number of outstanding performances on the First XV and was a stalwart presence in the club’s unbeaten U-20’s as they won a Leinster League and Harry Gale Cup double.
He put in regular excellent match-winning displays and also featured on the Junior team. Cian is underage for U-20s again next season and a fantastic successful rugby career is forecast for the Buccaneers U-20 Player of the Year.
The Covid pandemic brought an abrupt halt to so much worldwide including the cancellation of the 2019-20 All-Ireland League just as it was entering the business end of the season. Consequently, all matches and events like the awards night fell victim to the virus.
Up to that point one player had been especially consistent in influential performances for Buccaneers and he has since proved a wonderful captain in leading the Pirates to promotion to AIL Division 1B. The club recognised that contribution retrospectively by honouring Evan Galvin as Senior Player of the Year 2019-20. The club wishes him all the best on his venture to Canada but looks forward to him returning to play again in the future!
The final award of the event goes to the Club Person of the Year and is considered by many in the club to be the ultimate honour. This year it went to a member who is synonymous with Buccaneers and who represents the real heartbeat of Buccs.
Growing up in Mayfield Grove across the road from the old clubhouse, it was almost inevitable that Martin would take up rugby. And indeed he did, initially with Athlone and then Buccaneers for many a season, often when they were far from as successful as currently. Nevertheless, he dutifully kept on manning the front row trenches before finding his true calling, often far from the limelight.
He is present almost daily during the season, more often than not when no one else is around, attending to his tasks. On match days he is usually without fail the first to arrive to ensure everything is in order for the team. He has his weaknesses, mainly Manchester United, and can blast out a stirring rendition of ‘Delilah’, so we can only be referring the club’s logistics guy, the incomparable Martin Webster as our Club Person of the Year.
The big man was hugely emotional as he was presented with the ‘Michael Hanley Memorial Perpetual Cup’ by first team player Michael Hanley, a son of the man commemorated by this fine piece of silverware.
The Player of the Year awards were presented on behalf of Audi Athlone by Ian Moore while Connacht captain and Ireland international Jack Carty presented the Athlone Crystal trophies to the club’s various International players. Thanks Jack who also did the needful the following day for Buccaneers U-14s.
A special presentation was also made on behalf of the club by Kolo Kiripati to Ruairi and Christine Byrne and the history making U-20 squad received their Leinster medals at the event for which Sean Óg Hurley came out of ‘retirement’ to act as MC.
Bouquets were also presented by club president Eamon Collins to Geraldine Kenny and Mele Kiripati who were chief organisers of this highly successful event.
International Roll of Honour
Robbie Henshaw: Ireland Senior and British & Irish Lions.
Jack Carty: Ireland Senior.
Luke Carty: USA Senior.
Jordan Conroy: Ireland Sevens & Olympian.
Paul Boyle: Ireland Senior.
David Heffernan: Ireland Senior.
Finlay Bealham: Ireland Senior.
Charlie Byrne: Ireland U-18 Clubs.
Oisin Dolan: Ireland U-18 Schools.
Shane Jennings: Ireland U-20 & Sevens.
Oisin McCormack: Ireland U-20.
Darragh Murray: Ireland U-20.
Koronato Kiripati: Ireland U-18 Clubs.
Ivana Kiripati: Ireland U-18 Girls.
Faith Oviawe: Ireland U-18 Girls.