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Ballynahinch are taking nothing for granted against Garryowen

By Jonathan Bradley

The Ulster Bank All-Ireland League kicks off this weekend with Ballynahinch's quest for top honours beginning in Munster and an intriguing Ulster derby taking place in the second tier.

Hinch travel to Limerick tomorrow to take on Garryowen (2.30pm) and will bring a strong squad to face the newly-promoted side. Ulster players Ruaidhri Murphy and Paul Rowley - the scrum-half newly signed from London Welsh - will again feature and they are joined in the panel by Conor Joyce and Jonny Murphy.

Four members of the academy - outside back David Busby, tighthead prop Craig Trenier, lock John Donnan and back-rower Lorcan Dow - also make the trip.

The County Down side are still, however, expecting a tough test at Dooradoyle.

Director of Rugby Ronnie Duncan reflected: "It's always a very difficult place to go and they're a team with a really proud history.

"It'll be a desperately hard game, especially in their first back up, but we're still looking to get a positive result."

Elsewhere tomorrow, AIL 2B begins at Eaton Park with the division's two Ulster sides, Ballymena and Belfast Harlequins, squaring off.

The hosts are looking to build on what has been an impressive start to the campaign after they beat Ballynahinch to open the UCL and demolished Queen's 48-7 in last weekend's friendly.

Andy Graham's men will have three props released by Ulster with Bronson Ross and Michael Lagan starting, while Ross Kane provides cover off the bench.

Alan O'Connor has also been made available to take his place in the second-row alongside fit-again David Whann, although Andrew Warwick, David Shanahan and John Andrew are required by Neil Doak in the senior side's matchday 23 to take on the Scarlets.

Hooker Adam McBurney is absent as he will captain the Under-20s against Connacht this evening, while backs Andrew Magrath, Jonny Rosborough and Kieran Joyce join him on the representative panel.

On the derby, Graham said: "Quins have a good backline and it's always a tight game. When we played them last year, we triumphed but it was close.

"Everyone wants to start with a win. It's what we did last year and it held us in good stead."

For Harlequins, the derby is the second match of the campaign after last week's Senior Cup win over Dungannon at Deramore Park.

Flankers Sean Reidy and Frank Taggart, hooker Paul Jackson and scrum-half Conor Young are all free to play, while Neil McComb will again captain the side, although Jacob Stockdale is out.

Belfast Telegraph


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