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Malone aiming to halt slump in derby at Hinch

 

Malone boost: Stewart Moore
Malone boost: Stewart Moore

By Michael Sadlier

There will be added edge at Ballymacarn Park for tomorrow's clash between Ballynahinch and Malone as both arrive at this Ulster derby off the back of defeats.

With the league hitting the halfway stage this weekend, and both going at it again when it reconvenes in January to complete the back-to-back games, there is much at stake for the teams with only three points separating Malone, who are in second, from their hosts who sit in sixth.

For former leaders Malone, last weekend's surprise defeat when hosting Old Wesley was their second straight reverse, so the unpalatable prospect of a third will need to be urgently addressed before the Christmas break.

Hinch were turned over at bottom club Ballymena last Saturday and badly want to avoid any further slippage in the table.

At the prospect of heading to Hinch, Malone coach Paddy Armstrong said: "It is always going to be really tough up there.

"It's a matter of focusing on ourselves and trying to take a bit of pressure off ourselves."

Armstrong should have Adam McBurney released by Ulster, along with Stewart Moore, and could also be able to deploy Ross Kane and Matty Dalton.

Hinch will have Peter Nelson and Tommy O'Hagan in their ranks, while Kyle McCall could yet be released depending on game- time with Ulster.

Marcus Rea, Clive Ross, Bruce Houston and Robert Baloucoune are all available for coach Andy Graham as basement side Ballymena travel to Buccaneers for what looks to be a crunch period in the Braidmen's bid to escape propping up the table.

Graham may also be able to use John Andrew and Matty Rea as they meet the side one place above them in the table.

Ballymena are coming off two victories and badly need to get the better of Buccs tomorrow before playing them again at Eaton Park in January's next round.

Banbridge, in fifth, will be aiming to bounce back after losing at new leaders St Mary's College and they host City of Armagh, who are one place and point ahead of Bann in fourth, in the first of their back-to-back derbies.

1B: Ballynahinch v Malone, Buccaneers v Ballymena, Banbridge v City of Armagh.

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