The Early Days
The game of rugby football was a popular pursuit and sport in the Ballinasloe of the late 1860s, thanks to the generous patronage of the principal landowners in the area, the Earls of Clancarty.
At their Garbally Demesne, exhibition matches were played in the lawns of the great house for the entertainment of guests at dinner parties and other social events.
It is likely that the players in those embryonic days were an amalgam of some boys with a ‘’Public School’’ background, army personnel and staff from the Garbally estate.
The aforementioned Clancartys departed from Garbally for the U.K. in 1907 and with their exit the club, feeling the loss of their support, experienced a few lean years.
But if one door closed then another opened and the arrival of the Diocesan Seminary (St. Joseph’s College) at The Pines in Creagh in 1901 proved to be a big boost for rugby in the area.
With the knowledge of the game provided by and encouragement for playing shown by some of the teachers, the school provided a well of young players many of whom played their later rugby with the club and a healthy relationship between both continues to the present time.
On A Sunny Afternoon
On Sunday, April 20th 1958 on a sunny afternoon at the Sportsground, Ballinasloe won the Junior Cup defeating Rovers 8-3 with Shay Darcy leading the side.
This game heralded the arrival of Ray Mc Laughlin who was to go on and carve out a distinguished international career for himself. The ‘60s were to be a leaner period for the club although a Junior League title came their way in ‘68/69 season.
A Junior Cup was won in’71/72 under the captaincy of Jimmy Coughlan and following a 6-4 win over Tuam. From their earliest days, Ballinasloe led a nomadic existence by way of not having a regular ground of their own to call home.
More Recent Times
Ballinasloe amalgamated with Athlone RFC to form the Buccaneers for the 1994/95 season and played in the All Ireland League into the early noughties.
Buccs, as they were known, divided their home games between the two parent clubs with the result that some of the top teams in the country were appearing regularly at Graigueawoneen and large crowds of up to 4,000 strong were attending these league games.
Amongst those to appear were: St. Mary’s RFC, Lansdowne RFC, Bangor RFC and Cork Constitution as the local denizens were able to observe, at first hand, the skills and exploits of the leading internationals of the day.
Pride & Passion
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