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O’Connor and Lutton in Braidmen side for huge clash at Buccs

By Michael Sadlier

There's a lot at stake this weekend as both Ballymena and Ballynahinch go in search of positive outcomes to keep their league seasons in reasonable health.

The Braidmen clearly have the more exacting task as they travel to leaders Buccaneers, who beat them at Eaton Park in the previous round of AIL games back in December.

Andy Graham’s fourth-placed side need the result to keep in touch with the table’s upper tier and travel to Dubarry Park with a notably strong squad containing Ulster players Ricky Lutton and Alan O’Connor.

Centre Mark Best is also on board and will face Buccs again after being stretchered off following a controversial off-the-ball incident the last time the sides met.

Veteran prop Bryan Young is also in the starting side while the Ballymena pack is bolstered by Stephen Mulholland, Conor Smyth and Mattie Rea.

“If we can win it will open the league up for us again,” said Graham.

“We haven’t had a game for two or three weeks now and the boys are all itching to get back playing.

“We have a good record down there and we know that we have to start putting a little run together.”

Hinch are in sixth but they also look strong for their home game with Dolphin as John Donnan, Lorcan Dow, Conor Joyce and David Busby are all released.

The Co Down club — who are just two points adrift of Ballymena — are also believed to have Peter Nelson making his long-awaited return from injury.

Derek Suffern’s team beat Dolphin well enough when the sides last met and should do the double over the struggling Cork club.

1B: Ballynahinch v Dolphin, Shannon v Greystones, UCC v UL Bohs, Buccaneers v Ballymena.

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