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Hinch ready to make big push for safety

By Michael Sadlier

Though Ballynahinch have a game in hand on their rivals, the seventh-placed side have a decidedly tricky run-in ahead of them as they bid to dig themselves out of their current situation.

As things stand, 10 points will guarantee safety, but apart from tomorrow's trip to Shannon, the faltering Co Down club have to take on Division 1B's top three sides - they play Naas, UL Bohemians and leaders Buccaneers in that order - which is hardly the most promising looking fixture list when the potential of being dragged into a relegation dogfight is very real.

Shannon - who are one place below Hinch in eighth - have revived their season, but are also scrapping for everything they can get which is sure to make things tense in Limerick, with ninth-placed Galwegians - who host basement side Dolphin - just six behind Derek Suffern's side.

This is a huge game for Hinch, and they travel south bolstered by the release of Peter Nelson from Ulster with the likelihood being that he will be slotted in at out-half.

"This is definitely one we need to go for," stated Hinch head coach Suffern.

"Shannon away is a massive one. If we can get one over on them we'll be in a good place going into the last three.

"Our destiny is in our own hands, and we've been in this situation before, so we've got to get ourselves into a position to guarantee our safety so that we stay up," he added.

Hinch - who have lost their last three AIL games - also have David Busby and Aaron Cairns released to them to bring further cutting edge to a backline which should also include a fit-again Ross Carlisle, while second row John Donnan will be a boost up front.

Meanwhile, Ballymena are also feeling rather uneasy about being in sixth and need another win to, essentially, bring them security, though they may need more depending on how Galwegians fare with their last three regulation outings.

However, after three straight defeats they now need to derail UCC at Eaton Park with the fifth-placed students still in with an outside chance of making the top four.

Dave Shanahan, Mark Best, Stephen Mulholland, Mattie Rea, Conall Boomer and Adam McBurney have all been released from Ulster senior duty giving head coach Andy Graham a much stronger hand than last time out.

Div 1B: Ballymena v UCC, Buccaneers v Naas, Galwegians v Dolphin, Old Wesley v UL Bohs, Shannon v Ballynanhinch.

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