Big test for Buccs in top tier
With an exciting, fresh coaching partnership of Darin Claasen and former Connacht and Ireland lock Mike McCarthy to bed in, Buccaneers will look to back up last season's exemplary campaign when they enter the top tier of the Ulster Bank League later this month.
Buccaneers will begin life in Division 1A after they won Division 1B at a canter with 15 wins from 18 games last term.
It resulted in a massive 18-point gap at the top of the table where they dominated all-comers, finishing ahead of Naas.
But the Athlone outfit will need to continue that brilliant form if they want to be competitive in Division 1A, and not suffer the same fate as fellow Connacht club Galwegians, who were relegated from there in 2015-16.
Galwegians are now operating back in Division 2A after a second successive relegation, and they will do battle with city rivals Corinthians in the third tier this season.
Corinthians ended up sixth last season after an inconsistent campaign but they will hope to push for promotion, as will Galwegians. Galwegians finished bottom of Division 1B last season where they won just three of their 18 games.
It has been a dismal downturn for the Galway side but they will look to bounce back at the first time of asking.
Elsewhere, Sligo remain in Division 2C despite their push for promotion at the end of 2015-16 after they finished second, seven points behind winners Navan.
Sligo missed out on their chance to feature in the Division 2B/2C promotion play-off final after they lost to Rainey in the final four, and their young squad will hope to go one better this term.