Ballynahinch aiming to shrug off the threat of Banbridge
With the race to finish top of Division 1B looking likely to go down to the wire, Ballynahinch will want to stay in front and potentially stretch their lead in the table to more than the mere point that is currently the case over Banbridge.
And with Shannon five behind Hinch and in third, but with an extra game to play, there is danger lurking there too should either Co Down club — Bann are four in front of the Limerick side — trip up at this late stage.
Hinch and Bann have three to play with the former at home to bottom side Dolphin a mere five days after winning their re-arranged game at UL Bohemians.
Brian McLaughlin’s squad know they need to secure this one if they harbour any hopes of making it back into 1A without resorting to the play-offs.
Regular Ulster releases Aaron Cairns, Pete Browne and Jack Regan will all be turning out at Ballymacarn Park.
As for Bann, they are on the road to play seventh-placed Naas, though coach Dan Soper is wary of both the Leinster side, who are scrapping to stay away from the relegation zone, and his squad paying too much attention to their own drive towards finishing top.
“We’ve always had tough and very tight games at Naas and we can’t fall into the trap on looking at the table, we just have to get a result,” said Soper.
Greg Jones has been released by Ulster while Tom O’Toole and James Hume are available after time away with Ireland U20s.
Down in ninth, Ballymena have a huge game at home to UL Bohemians who are in eighth and two points in front.
If the Eaton Park side are to escape having to ultimately secure their 1B future through the play-off route, then they really have to turn Bohs over.
Adam McBurney, Marcus Rea, Callum Patterson and Brett Herron have all been released to coach Andy Graham for this must-win clash.
“If we can get points out of this one and deny them points it would be great for us as, after this, we have Dolphin and Wesley,” said Graham.
“A couple of wins would hopefully take us away from the relegation zone,” the Braidmen coach added.
1B: Ballymena v UL Bohemians, Ballynahinch v Dolphin, Naas v Banbridge, Old Belvedere v U.C.C., Shannon v Old Wesley