Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby Club Rugby

Let's keep momentum going, says Graham as he eyes improvement

By Michael Sadlier

Opening with a win was always the plan but to do it at Shannon was a very decent result indeed for Ballymena. Though they didn't manage a try bonus, the Braidmen still banked four very valuable points ahead of hosting Naas who were hammered last week at UL Bohemians.

Now, it's about keeping the momentum going following with Ballymena coach Andy Graham demanding that his side deliver again for their first home game.

"We have plenty of improvement to make after last week, we gave away far too many penalties and there are different things we can tighten up on," said Graham.

Ballymena have Ulster players John Andrew and Dave Shanahan back on duty while lock Kieran Treadwell is released again.

Marty Irwin returns to the side in midfield where Ulster squad member Mark Best plays again after racking up 15 points at Shannon.

"We have to follow Shannon up with a good performance, but it's a couple of years since we played Naas and they were a handy side then and obviously they have recruited well and have Johne Murphy (ex-Munster) and Fionn Carr (ex-Connacht) in their backline," added Graham.

Ballynahinch also had reasons to be cheerful after scoring five tries in their 35-13 tanking of Buccaneers at Ballymacarn Park.

They are at UL Bohemians and on an artificial pitch too which could well be a factor for coach Derek Sufferen's side.

"They (Bohs) beat Dolphin quite easily in Cork and it will be hard for us there and it's on on their 4G pitch as well," Suffern stated. "But if we can be in the game at half-time, and have settled into the pitch, then hopefully we can then pull through again with another second half performance like we did last Saturday."

Hinch, though, have injury concerns and Ulster squad member Sam Windsor, who shipped a bang to the ribs in is two-try performance against Buccs, is touch and go to make it though they do have scrum-half Angus Lloyd released by Ulster for his first AIL game for the club.

Definitely out is winger Chris Quinn who shipped a shoulder injury last week while number eight and skipper Michael Graham and winger David Nicholson are unavailable.

Suffern has shuffled his back row to take account of Graham's absence with Lorcan Dow moving from flanker to number eight while Connor Phillips is promoted to the bench to slot in at openside flanker with Conor Joyce still at six.

On the wing Callum McLaughlin, son of former Ulster coach Brian, might come in for Nicholson.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph