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It's make or break for Hinch

By Michael Sadlier

It's pretty much backs to the wall time for three of the four Ulster clubs spread across both first divisions with Ballynahinch's bid for survival in Division 1A coming ever more sharply into focus.

Hinch, who host Young Munster, have pretty much resigned themselves to scrapping it out with Garryowen to avoid finishing bottom of the heap in the top flight and therefore automatically taking the drop.

The preferable alternative is to end up securing their current ninth spot which would bring Hinch a decent shot at survival through a home play-off with the side which ends up second in Division 1B.

However, Garryowen's return to form has made the play-off option rather less likely than it once looked and now Hinch are only ahead of the Limerick side on a superior points differential.

"We're not kidding ourselves, our aim is to try and get a play-off," Hinch coach Derek Suffern said.

"This week really looks like its make or break," he added.

"And with Garryowen playing second-placed side Clontarf we'd like to think that if we can beat Young Munster then we could get four points ahead which could be a critical advantage in the last few games," Suffern stated.

Selection wise, Suffern will pretty much have the same squad of players with, as per usual, David McIlwaine, Jonny Murphy and Kyle McCall all available.

Flanker Paul Pritchard is unavailable which may mean that Neil Fallon comes into the back row. However, Hinch look certain to be without long-term absentees John Donnan and Paddy McCallister for the rest of the season.

In Division 1B, Malone go to Blackrock in what is sure to be a tense scrap as both aim to put some distance between themselves and the relegation mire involving the current leading candidates for the drop, Dublin University and bottom club Dungannon.

The Gibson Park side, who have James McKinney again but may be without injury doubt Alan O'Connor, can at least travel bolstered by their win over local rivals Belfast Harlequins.

As for Dungannon, their ultimate relegation looks pretty much inevitable and they host Buccaneers, with Adam Macklin and Peter Nelson in their ranks, knowing that an unlikely win would still not lift them off the bottom.

Meanwhile, Belfast Harlequins, who have Rory Scholes, travel to struggling Dublin University.

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