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McAleese: Hinch have point to prove in Cup

By Jonathan Bradley

The draw for the last four of the First Trust Senior Cup was made at the Kingspan Stadium yesterday with both City of Derry and Malone handed a tough task to make next month's showpiece final.

City of Derry will travel to the province's only top tier All-Ireland League side, Ballynahinch, while Malone will visit Eaton Park to face in-form Ballymena.

Hinch will be determined to make up for last year's final loss to Queen's University and, after earning a bonus point win over St Mary's last weekend, are sitting fourth in AIL 1A.

Speaking after the draw was made, Ballynahinch out-half and captain Harry McAleese said: "I suppose being the 1A team we are going to be seen as favourites but obviously last year we were beaten by Queen's who were a couple of leagues below us.

"It's a new group and a new team but a lot of the people are the same and there's certainly a determination to get to the final again and, if we can do that, then put last year right."

There will be a dress rehearsal of the other tie, with precious All-Ireland League points at stake, on Saturday when Ballymena welcome Malone.

Indeed the pair will meet four times over the course of the season but, with Ballymena top of AIL 2B and Malone in fourth, it is Andy Graham's men who will be expected to progress.

Former Ireland and Ulster prop Bryan Young, now a player-coach at Ballymena, does not believe this weekend's game will have too much bearing on the upcoming semi-final.

"It'll be an indicator, but in rugby you can emotionally turn around from a defeat pretty quickly, so it will be all about who plays best on the day," said the eight-times capped international.

Ties will be played on Saturday November 29.

Belfast Telegraph

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