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Armagh seek to build on positives for derby clash

 

Chris Colvin
Chris Colvin

By Michael Sadlier

City of Armagh are planning to kick-start their fightback at the Palace Grounds tomorrow in what is sure to be a full-on Ulster derby with 1B rivals Malone.

Armagh's three-game losing run has seen them slump to eighth in the table so this final home match before the New Year is a vital one for Willie Faloon's men to get back on track.

After their 21-13 loss at leaders Highfield last time out, which saw them just miss out on a losing bonus point, Armagh are eager to turn last weekend's disappointment into something entirely more positive.

Armagh assistant coach Chris Parker said: "Last weekend we got a performance so we can hopefully build on it and get the result this time."

With the side having lost their last two games at the Palace Grounds, this looks an important psychological hurdle for them in addition to getting themselves back up the table with only four points separating Armagh from fourth-placed St Mary's College.

Chris Colvin starts this week and Daryl Morton returns, though Harry Doyle is out injured again.

Malone, in fifth, head to Armagh after a thumping result over basement team Navan and will be hoping to have strong-running Stewart Moore available again.

Back-to-back wins are the aim for Banbridge this weekend, which if achieved will also bring them a first positive result away from home when the Co Down side head to Navan.

Last weekend's 28-27 win over Old Belvedere was a nervy enough affair for Bann but brought them five points and with Navan only having managed a solitary point from their six matches - they have a game in hand - the hope is that coach Mark McDowell's squad can get something from their trip south.

"We're focused on them in the same way we prepare for anyone else," said McDowell, whose three wins so far have all come at Rifle Park.

"They are a different outfit at home and though it's not season-defining for them just yet, it's not far off.

"So, we've got to guard against a team that will be seriously motivated and will doubtless have targeted this as one they can win."

Bann will be hoping to have regular releases Greg Jones, Callum Reid and Bruce Houston for this weekend, though Jonny Stewart, John Andrew and Dave O'Connor may not be available.

Meanwhile, in 1A, Ballynahinch host Young Munster for an encounter which has that must-win look about it.

After being badly turned over at unbeaten leaders Cork Constitution, ending a two-game winning run for Hinch, the Ballymacarn Park outfit are back having no one below them.

Though there are only three points between themselves and sixth-placed Young Munster, Hinch still need to extricate themselves from bottom.

They are hoping to have Kyle McCall released but should have younger brother Zack after his return to fitness.

Clive Ross is out injured while flankers Ollie Loughead and Aaron Hall are unavailable, meaning that Jack Regan looks likely to move into the back-row where he will be joined by Bradley Luney.

1A: Ballynahinch v Young Munster.

1B: Navan v Banbridge, City of Armagh v Malone.

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