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Braidmen lose Ulster men for must-win clash

Ulster's injury crisis has left an already depleted Ballymena even shorter of numbers for their crucial match-up with NUIM Barnhall in All-Ireland League 2A this afternoon.

The Co Antrim side welcome the Kildare men knowing they need to win what is their final game of the campaign, and hope other results go their way, to earn promotion but will be without Andrew Warwick and Ricky Andrew who were required by Mark Anscombe for last night's visit of Connacht.

It is a less-than-ideal scenario for the third place side who are already without Jamie Smith and Timothy Small due to injury while Martin Irwin and David O'Hara are unavailable.

One point behind UCC, Ballymena need the students to drop points against City of Derry, who themselves still have an outside chance of securing the final promotion place, as well as winning their own game at Eaton Park, but coach Andy Graham is concerned only with his side's performance.

He said: "There's everything to play for obviously but all we can do is win our game and hope for the best elsewhere.

"I'm sure there will be people checking up how UCC are going during the game but whatever will be will be.

"If we had won down in Cork two weeks ago then we'd already be promoted so that was a bit disappointing, but we've played some good rugby over the course of this season and all that's been missing has been a bit of consistency.

"Barnhall were going for promotion themselves a few weeks ago so they're a good side.

"They have an abrasive pack so we'll need to be aware of that and they'll be looking to finish the season well."

Aside from the two games with promotion implications, three other Ulster sides will round off their 2A campaigns today.

Queen's, who have been in the upper reaches of the division all year, will welcome already-relegated Old Crescent to south Belfast while Banbridge host Naas in what could be a vital game for the visitors.

Rainey Old Boys travel to Crowley Park for a meeting with champions Galwegians.

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