D-day looms for 'Gannon as Inst chase silverware
For Dungannon and Instonians tomorrow's terrain could hardly be more different as closing time beckons on their respective AIL campaigns.
Dungannon's white knuckle ride of a season reaches endgame, with a must win situation at Ballymena to secure Division One survival while Inst, still savouring securing promotion to Division Two, find themselves in Donnybrook with silverware on offer when they take on Bruff in the Division Three play-off final.
For Dungannon, it's going to be one of those jittery last days with spadefuls of tension and much activity on mobile phones as other relegation-battling scorelines are monitored; the only certainty being that by late tomorrow afternoon two from 'Gannon (19 points), Lansdowne and Greystones (both 18 points and who are away to Terenure and Shannon respectively) will be on their way to Division Two.
For John Andrews' men there can only really be one result from their derby clash, if they are to remain in control of their own destiny. A win, preferably with a bonus point, means that they remain in the top flight, any other scenario resulting in their staying up is dependent on both Lansdowne - who if points differential comes down to deciding who departs are currently minus 106 to 'Gannon's nearby minus 98 - and Greystones losing.
The Tyrone side, who have registered a mere three wins and a draw all coming at home in 14 outings, have Kieran Campbell turning out for his final game in club colours but look unlikely to have the services of Nigel Brady who looks set to be called up for Ulster in place of Rory Best for the trip to Cardiff.
"We'll give the best shot we can, the bottom line is we've got to win it," Dungannon team manager Brian Magowan said.
"We've got to get the boys in the right frame of mind and go for it in what is our 'do or die' game," he added.
Ballymena, who have nothing but pride to play for ahead of next Friday's First Trust Senior Cup final with Belfast Harlequins, welcome back second row Darren Best who has recovered from an ankle injury but will be missing Donovan Raw for the rest of the season due to a knee problem.
On a rather less nerve-fraying front, Instonians' starting line up for their cup final with Bruff (kick-off 2pm) is unchanged from their thumping win over Queen's University in the play-off semi-final and the only alteration to the squad sees Richard Fegan take his place on the bench.
Head coach Clem Boyd, who with playing assistant Niall Malone has signed a new contract to stay at the club for two more seasons, is determined to bring the cup back to Shaws Bridge and avenge their narrow league defeat at Bruff earlier in the season.