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Local rivals Hinch and Dromore up for the cup

 

By Michael Sadlier

Tonight's Millar McCall Wylie Junior Cup final promises to be quite an occasion as local rivals Ballynahinch II and Dromore go head-to-head at Kingspan Stadium (kick-off 7.30pm).

Hinch come to the derby clash chasing down an incredible hat-trick of titles, while Dromore are hoping for a first Junior Cup success since way back in the 1938-39 season.

Much added spice is added to the occasion by the fact that both Co Down clubs have strong connections with players moving between both and, indeed, Dromore coach Jonny Cullen and his assistant Jamie Kirk used to tog out for Hinch.

Dromore, who are in impressive league form this season, were last in a Junior Cup final in the 2004-05 season when they took a beating from Ballymena II and are in no mood for a repeat from tonight's shoot-out, which will be just their third appearance at this stage of the competition.

The Barban Hill club had big wins on the way to the final over Ballyclare and Portadown and had the added advantage of playing all their cup games at home, though their semi-final win over Malone II was a closely fought 15-7 affair.

Hinch, who are coached by Mark McDowell, have only made it this far after an epic 30-26 semi-final win at Grosvenor, while the previous round was also a tight squeak when getting past Limavady 39-32.

"That semi-final at Grosvenor would have been worthy of any final," said McDowell.

"It was a phenomenal game and we had to really go into our reserves in the last 10 minutes to pull out the result."

As for the prospect of a third straight win - which would be Hinch's 10th victory from 11 finals - McDowell, whose side have blown hot and cold in the league, just has this game in his sights.

"It'll be a nice cherry on the cake if we manage to do it," he said.

"We're just focusing on trying to beat Dromore, they beat us at our place earlier in the year so there's a bit more focus."

While Hinch seem unlikely to have former Ulster and Jersey player Ross Adair on board, Dromore are also resigned to not having ex-Ulster prop Jonny 'Mo' Simpson, who is injured.

Of Dromore's chance to lift the cup again after 80 years, Cullen said: "This is absolutely massive for the club.

"This means everything to the club and the players."

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