Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Hinch running out of time in survival fight

By Michael Sadlier

It's the penultimate week of the regulation season and all three Ulster clubs are dealing with different scenarios.

In 1A, Ballynahinch's chances of wriggling free of bottom place are hanging by the slenderest of threads as they head south to cross swords with UCD who are fourth and guaranteed a play-off place.

Hinch are eight points adrift of Galwegians - who are currently in the relegation play-off spot in ninth - so the odds are very much stacked against Derek Suffern's squad who face a UCD side still able to finish second which would bag them a sought after home semi-final.

Added to that, the students convincingly won when the sides met earlier in the season at Ballymacarn Park while Hinch have only managed to win three times in their 16 AIL games. All in all, then, the Co Down side's departure to 1B looks imminent.

As for 1B, Ballymena's once solid looking hopes of a top two finish have now evaporated but a home win - or just a point - over seventh-placed Dolphin will copper-fasten Andy Graham's men third position and an away semi-final play-off towards potentially securing promotion.

The Braidmen have Dave Shanahan, Clive Ross, Stephen Mulholland and John Andrew all available. "It will not be easy," said Graham. "They are fighting to get out of the relegation zone and though we beat them well down there the score flattered us."

As for Belfast Harlequins, they have already been relegated to 2A despite managing to win last time out against Old Wesley which was only their second victory of the entire campaign.

Quins are at UL Bohemians who are just one place ahead of them but will be going all-out to avoid entering a relegation play-off scenario and can still potentially do so with Blackrock College just a point ahead and Dolphin three in front of the Limerick side. Adam Larkin's side will have nothing other than pride to play for.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph