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Soper hopes Bann's fringe stars will shine


With home advantage, Malone and Ballymena will be expected to beat Dungannon and Omagh respectively and qualify for the semi-finals of the First Trust Senior Cup, while Ballynahinch will start favourites at Bangor.

The remaining tie between Armagh and Banbridge could be a more closely fought affair, especially as Bann have made a number of changes from last week's AIL success at Ballymena.

Four of their players have been drafted into the Ulster 'A' team while others have been rested or moved to the bench.

Coach Daniel Soper is pleased that prop Michael Cromie has been recognised by Ulster.

"He has been in excellent form lately and has played a large part in our recent successes. Flanker Caleb Montgomery, out-half Michael Lowry and scrum-half Rob Lyttle have also been justly rewarded so a number of our squad players will be given an opportunity," he said.

Jason Gribben will be at No.9 while Ben Carson will be in the centre with Ian Porter, with Jonny Little reverting to the bench. Stuart Cromie starts at prop, Jonny Weir at hooker and Tom O'Toole is also in the front row.

"This tie is as tough as you could get but we have to rotate the squad and we will give it our best," added Soper.

Armagh suffered a 28-20 AIL defeat against Blackrock last week and will be hoping to put the disappointment of their first loss of the season behind them.

They won't be at full strength as Tim McNeice is still on the sidelines with a knee injury, and prop Daryl Morton will also be absent due to a shoulder problem.

Coach Willie Faloon knows his team can play better - and they will need to against Bann.

"Last week, Blackrock were more physical and outplayed us in every facet of the game. I feel they wanted the victory more but we must get back into the winning mood," he said.

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