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Parker is eager to see smiles on faces as Armagh aim to push on

AIL Rugby


Chris Parker

Chris Parker

�INPHO/Bryan Keane

Chris Parker

As openers go, it could hardly have been any better for City of Armagh.

They simply overwhelmed Rainey Old Boys last weekend and the 63-14 scoreline said it all.

It was enough to put Armagh top of Conference One but today is expected to be a considerably different matter when they travel to meet Ballynahinch at Ballymacarn Park.

Not only does it pitch last season's Ulster Senior Cup winners against the Hinch side they narrowly and dramatically defeated to lift the trophy, but it also brings first and second together in the top conference with both having collected five points from their opening clashes.

Chris Parker, who, in a neat piece of role reversal, is now head coach at Armagh with Willie Faloon assisting, said: "If Saturday is half as exciting as the Senior Cup final then it will be worth seeing.

"We are putting a big emphasis this year on just enjoying it and enjoying being out on the pitch because we don't know what is going to happen from week to week in that you may not even have a game of rugby (due to the pandemic).

"So we're just saying, 'Just enjoy it' and seeing where that takes us."

Though Hinch won't exactly admit it, they will be pretty keen to avenge last March's Cup final loss and will have John Donnan available for the game though Conor Kelly is out and on the injured list.

The march of coronavirus has meant that Conference One has taken quite a hit with the cancellation yesterday of the meeting between Queen's University and Malone, while Rainey's trip to Banbridge has gone the same way.

In Conference Two, leaders Belfast Harlequins are at Ballymena with the visitors keen to put in another high-scoring effort after dismissing Bangor 31-0.

Former Ulster player James McKinney starts at full-back for coach Neil Doak's side while out-half Paul Kerr will be hoping for a similar afternoon's work to the one he produced last weekend when he managed to score 21 of Quins' total.

Bangor, who failed to register a point last week at Quins - though the first half ended scoreless for both sides - host Omagh who are playing their first game.

Former Ulster squad member Mark Best is at 10 for Bangor.

City of Derry's trip to Dungannon was postponed earlier in the week.

Conference One: Ballynahinch v City of Armagh, Banbridge v Rainey Old Boys (postponed), Queen's University v Malone. (postponed).

Conference Two: Ballymena v Belfast Harlequins, Bangor v Omagh, Dungannon v City of Derry (postponed).

Belfast Telegraph