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Hinch hold high hopes of claiming final spot

By Staff Reporter

Just a week after they defeated Galwegians in a crucial AIL game, Ballynahinch meet the same opponents again in tomorrow's Bateman Cup semi-final.

This time, though, Hinch are on the road to Galway as the Ulster Senior Cup holders aim to go one better than last season when they fell at the same hurdle to the then Leinster Cup champions Clontarf.

Even though the Co Down club's main aim is to still rescue themselves from relegation from AIL Division 1A, the chance of making it to the All-Ireland Cup final is still one that Derek Suffern's squad want to take.

Hinch are without a host of usual starters due to tonight's Ulster A game, with Sam Windsor, John Donnan, Conor Joyce, Lorcan Dow and Peter Browne all in the province's starting XV.

Suffern may yet have the services of subs Jonny Murphy, James Simpson, Paul Rowley and Ruaidhri Murphy, depending on game-time, although for them to reach Galway will require a fairly rapid turnaround.

Hinch still travel with a pretty decent side with Richard Reaney at out-half this week and Chris Quinn also part of the backline. And with Aaron Cairns off on Ireland Sevens duty and Blane McIlroy returning to the US, Chris Gibson could get a start at scrum-half.

Up front, John Madden and James Simpson make up a useful engine room, while Paul Pritchard, Michael Graham and David McGuigan form a formidable back-row partnership.

"We're looking forward to it after our win over them on Saturday and with Ulster A taking players it's a chance for a few others to get a game," said Suffern.

"We're up for it, after all it's a semi-final and a chance to play in an All-Ireland final.

"It's an opportunity for us, but it's going to be tricky going down there even though they are also hit by Connacht Eagles call-ups."

In the other semi-final, UCD host Cork Constitution at Belfield.

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