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AIL Divisions One and Two: Jeremy aims for a high five to stay on course

By Michael Sadlier

Published 26/01/2007

Michael Rainey will be a key man for Dungannon against Lansdowne
Michael Rainey will be a key man for Dungannon against Lansdowne

The rough and tumble of the Ulster derbies now behind them, Dungannon's focus must be on breaking out of some heavy traffic in their effort to nail down a top four finish.

A mere three points separate the currently fourth-placed Tyrone side from tomorrow's opponents Lansdowne, who arrive at Stevenson Park occupying seventh spot, so Jeremy Davidson's task is to register a fifth consecutive league win to keep his side moving in the right direction.

More of the same from last week's win over Ballymena will be required and Dungannon will, once again, look to their pack - albeit without their Ulster regulars - to spearhead their efforts.

Another big performance from Michael Rainey, man of the match against Ballymena, should inspire his team mates but the second row will not be packing down with usual partner Ryan Caldwell who has been named as part of the Ulster squad to take on the Ospreys tomorrow as has prop Declan Fitzpatrick.

Dungannon are also without hooker Nigel Brady, who is out injured, so Ciaran O'Kane will continue in the middle of the scrum.

After having two players sent to the bin last week, Davidson will be hoping to keep a full complement on the park, and get another big game from Richard McCarter, for what is likely to be another hard-fought encounter against a side whose own top four aspirations were dented by last week's surprising defeat to Terenure.

After their shock win over Shannon with Niall O'Connor's superb last-gasp penalty ending a horrendous eight match losing streak, Grafton Belfast Harlequins continue their battle for top flight survival with a trip to mid-table Blackrock.

Another win for Quins is pretty much an essential requirement if they are to dig themselves out of the mire.

Quins will be without hooker Stuart Philpott who has been called up for Ulster bench duty and joins club mates Paul Marshall and Paul McKenzie in McCall's squad.

Ben Hanvey comes in for Philpott and there could be a vacancy at prop should Niall Conlon not be able to shake off a knock from the Shannon clash.

Otherwise, Quins hope to be unchanged with Roger Kirkwood continuing at the base of the scrum, and Keith Pyper in the centre, after last week's heroics at Deramore.

Ballymena host second-placed UL Bohemians - who have conceded fewer points than any other side in the league - and must do without Scott Young who is with Ulster while, in Division Two, second from bottom Malone's grim battle to avoid the drop sees them travel to Bective where the home side are also in danger of being relegated.

The Gibson Park outfit are without red-carded David Cobain and Richard Fannin and Kiwi David Walsh who is currently home in New Zealand.

Belfast Telegraph

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