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Understrength Hinch are raring to go, insists Suffern

By Michael Sadlier

Fifth plays fourth tomorrow when play-off hopefuls Ballynahinch host Old Wesley with victory the essential outcome for the Co Down side.

Hinch - who have a game in hand as last weekend's match at Naas succumbed to the weather - are five points behind their visitors, so need to close that gap.

And a much-needed victory should also ensure there are no unwanted issues for Hinch at the other end of the table where ninth-placed Galwegians are only seven behind.

But head coach Derek Suffern's men look somewhat up against it as the demands for Ulster 'A', who are playing in their British and Irish Cup quarter-final against Munster 'A' on Sunday, has meant that Hinch are without a raft of releases from Ulster.

Only Craig Trenier and Aaron Hall are thought likely to be released while Suffern's starting side will essentially be a purely club team with skipper Michael Graham and James Simpson in the pack, along with backs Blane McIlroy, Jordan Grattan and James McBriar, all prepared to provide leadership and experience.

It's also not a particularly comfortable looking run-in either with four of Hinch's remaining five games all being against sides above them.

"It's a really big game for us," stated Suffern. "It will be the second time this season we have done that (used only club players) against Old Wesley and the first time we just fell short.

"This time, our boys are up for the challenge and we think we can turn them over."

Ballymena, in sixth but on the same number of points as Hinch, are in a similar position in losing a large contingent to Ulster 'A' but with added injuries and unavailability, coach Andy Graham is missing 17 backs.

The Braidmen make the long journey to Cork to play bottom side Dolphin at Irish Independent Park - the same venue where Ulster 'A' play the next day - determined to stay in touch with the top four and keep clear of Galwegians.

Div 1B: Ballynahinch v Old Wesley, Dolphin v Ballymena, Naas v Shannon, UCC v Buccs, UL Bohs v Galwegians

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