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Braidmen fired up for league showdown with Galwegians

By Michael Sadlier

It could hardly be a better match-up as the sides in first and second in Division 1B cross swords with both still unbeaten after four games having been played.

However, it is rather unfortunate for Ballymena (in second) that this tasty-looking encounter is at Galwegians (the leaders are just one point ahead) though coach Andy Graham's squad have already won twice on the road this season, at Belfast Harlequins and UL Bohemians, so they should not be in any way intimidated by the prospect of togging out at Crawley Park.

Graham has Ulster player Mike McComish back from injury as is the case with second rows Matthew Rea and Connor Smyth while it will be another big game for teenage loose-head prop Michael Lagan who lifted last season's Schools' Cup with Methody.

However, the Braidmen are travelling west without Clive Ross, John and Ricky Andrew as well as the injured Dave Shanahan and unavailable Adie Kirkpatrick.

The sides are also reasonably familiar with each other having both been promoted from Division 2A at the end of last season - Galwegians were champions - and Graham knows what to expect.

"They were the best team we played last year," says Graham whose side were notably the only ones to defeat the Connacht squad throughout the whole AIL campaign. We played really well, it was the first day of the season and we caught them napping (at Eaton Park). They will be a strong team this time and so are we."

Malone will be going all-out to pick up only their second win in this campaign, from their meeting with UL Bohemians at Gibson Park though that will be challenging against the side currently fourth in the table.

With Malone to play Galweigans, Ballymena and Garryowen (first, second and third respectively) the task facing coach Jacques Benade's sixth-placed side this month could hardly be tougher.

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