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Ballynahinch leap forward with local battles

Ballynahinch will begin life in Division 1B of the AIB League with a brace of all-Ulster derbies in the first three matches.

On October 3 they make their bow at Eaton Park where Ballymena will await them. On October 24 they travel to Dungannon’s Stevenson Park home.

With Division 1 having been modified — two sections of eight teams rather than a single tier of 16 — the runners will play each other home and away.

Dungannon and Ballymena square up at Stevenson Park on December 12 and on Braidside on April 10, the final day of the series.

Ulster’s two DivIsion 2 representatives, Belfast Harlequins and Malone, will kick off with home dates against Old Crescent and Bective Rangers respectively.

In Division 3, Instonians — relegated at the end of last season — host Portadown, Ards entertain Barnhall and Rainey Old Boys welcome Cork outfit Sunday’s Well, while Queen’s and Banbridge square up in another October 3 Ulster derby.

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