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Graham urging Braidmen to raise the bar

By Michael Sadlier

One draw and two defeats is no way to be performing at this stage of the season and Ballymena will be bidding to kick-start their stuttering campaign when they host Galwegians today (kick-off 12.30pm).

After last week’s Friday night game, when they fell at home to Ballynahinch, coach Andy Graham’s sixth-placed squad must start winning again to stay in touch with Division 1B’s all-important top four.

“You have to win the gain-line battles and the early collisions and that’s what Hinch did to us last week,” said Graham, who has demanded that the Braidmen up the ante from the off against the ninth-placed Connacht side.

“We need to be a lot sharper from the off.”

Mark Best and Adam McBurney are the only Ulster-linked players definitely released as Stephen Mulholland and Matty Rea are injured, while Brett Herron is a fitness doubt.

Meanwhile, Hinch, who are now in third, make the long journey south to take on UCC (kick-off 12.30pm).

With three wins in a row now behind them, Derek Suffern’s squad know that they possess the potential to strengthen their position in the push to gain promotion.

“We are trying to go down there to back up last week (the win over Ballymena),” said Suffern.

“We are aiming to bring the intensity and accuracy that we brought to Ballymena and if we can do that then we’re more than capable of getting a positive result.”

In the back row, Callum Irvine should start ahead of the injured Lorcan Dow while Justin Rea will probably come in for the unavailable Stuart Morrow and David Busby is likely to start at full-back as Peter Nelson is with Ulster.

1B: Ballymena v Galwegians, UCC v Ballynahinch, Buccaneers v Old Wesley, Naas v Dolphin.

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