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Armagh out to stop losing run and reach maiden final

By Michael Sadlier

Armagh or Malone will be resigned to the role of underdogs in this year's Senior Cup final but that will not stop a fierce battle in tomorrow's semi-final at the Palace Grounds (2.30).

As is the case with the other semi-finalists Ballymena and Ballynahinch, who are in Division 1B of the AIL, both sides know each other well, from playing together in Division 2A.

Indeed just two points separated the teams when they met in the AIL earlier this month at Malone's Gibson Park home and another close encounter looks on the cards tomorrow.

Armagh will be aiming to make their first ever Senior Cup final but coach Willie Faloon's men come into the game off the back of four straight losses in the AIL which will certainly have focused minds at the Palace Grounds.

As Division 2A leaders Malone are in a much better place but they were beaten for the first time in their AIL season last Friday night by Queen's University.

Though it has been 25 years since the cup was brought back to Gibson Park, Malone coach Paddy Armstrong is not putting undue pressure on his squad to reach the final.

"It's up to the boys to just go out and perform," he said.

The home side will be without injured skipper Ali Birch, as well as James Hanna, Andrew Willis and now Peter Starrett.

Stephen Morton will come in at lock with Jonny Pollock added to the match day squad.

"The cup is something we've never won before," said Birch.

"So for us it's a case of trying to prove we can actually have a shot at managing that."

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