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Bangor hope to mark their return in style

By Michael Sadlier

It's another huge day for Bangor as after so notably securing senior status again, following a 14-year gap, the Co Down side now get a first taste of AIL action, this time in Division 2C.

And it's sure to be quite a baptism for the Uprichard Park squad as their opening encounter happens to be a rather tasty looking Ulster derby clash when they play host to Rainey Old Boys.

If last week's performance is anything to go by then Bangor could be facing an uphill battle after being heavily beaten by Malone - who are admittedly two divisions above them in the AIL - in the Ulster Premiership, though mitigation might be found in that it happened to be the seasiders only competitive outing so far this season.

"It's early days but we hope we do the club proud tomorrow and over the next months," said director of rugby Darren Curran.

"We're all looking forward to it now and we're looking to find our feet," he added.

Bangor player-coach Jason Morgan will have experienced forward David Bradford in the team while Ross McCloskey - brother of Stuart - is likely to feature in the back three.

Both Ricky Andrew - now helping head coach John Andrews - and Tim Barker are in Rainey's line-up.

In 2B, new coach Andrew Gillespie is hoping to open his AIL campaign with the right result when Belfast Harlequins host Nenagh Ormond.

"We're confident but we're under no illusions," said Gillespie, who took over from Adam Larkin after Quins were relegated last season.

"We've been in good form but this is a step up and we know we'll have to be a lot more streetwise."

Quins are waiting on the fitness of Matts McKelvey and Fisher as well as Rory Blake-Knox.

Banbridge's season ended in play-off semi-final defeat last April but head coach Dan Soper is confident of going one better this time when they are at home to promoted Sunday's Well.

Bann have former Ulster scrum-half Ian Porter in the side.

Elsewhere, Queen's University open their account at newly promoted Highfield while Malone are also on the road to Cashel.

In Division 2B, City of Derry bid to make amends for blowing promotion last season when they play Skerries at Judges Road with new coach Richard McCarter seeking a solid start after a turbulent off-season.

In the other 2B games, Brian McLaughlin's Armagh are at Bective Rangers while Dungannon host Barnhall.

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