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Bann and Derry out to revitalise bid for top spot

By Michael Sadlier

The prize of automatic promotion is still very much up for grabs as Banbridge and City of Derry head into their penultimate games in Divisions 2A and 2B respectively.

Both clubs have been setting the pace in both divisions but have recently been struggling to put together the wins needed to assure them of automatic promotion without having to do so via the play-offs.

Bann coach Dan Soper - fresh from his back-to-back Schools' Cups with RBAI - is determined to get the Co Down side over the line, though they are just one point ahead of nearest challengers Naas.

Soper's squad - who last time out ended a two-game losing run by tanking bottom side Thomond - are at struggling Corinthians who have, though, managed to win their last two games.

The other matches in 2A see Malone, who are in sixth and likely out of the top-four running, hosting Bann's nearest rivals Naas while Queen's University are at Thomond.

City of Derry's troubles in 2B have been much more marked with their once seemingly unassailable lead now whittled away thanks to four consecutive defeats.

Indeed, coach Terry McMaster's squad will more than likely not even be top of the pile when they tog out at eighth-placed Bective Rangers thanks to Highfield and Sunday's Well having played last night.

"That's maybe the incentive we need to get ourselves back on the horse," said McMaster of Good Friday's Cork Derby.

"It's still in our hands and if we win our last two games then we've got automatic promotion. If not, then we're in the play-offs."

Also in 2B, ninth-placed Rainey Old Boys are at Barnhall and John Andrews' side look to be heading towards a relegation play-off.

Elsewhere, sixth-placed Armagh host Greystones while Dungannon, in seventh, are at already relegated Seapoint.

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