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Suffern believes Hinch are ready to show their quality

By Michael Sadlier

Yes, it's back again. Well, the All-Ireland League's top flight anyway as it gets under way ahead of the other two divisions coming on board next week.

And things have been a bit different this time around as there has been much more fanfare than usual, what with Monday's launch at the Aviva Stadium, trumpeting the return of end of season play-offs in Division 1A and the fact that from next season the AIL will yet again be re-calibrated into a five-division structure consisting of 10 teams in each section.

Ballynahinch – who last time out held on to their 1A status by winning a play-off with Buccaneers – open their account away at newly promoted Terenure College and travel with some confidence learned from their troubles of the last campaign.

"It's a very tough start," said Hinch coach Derek Suffern about venturing into pretty much the unknown against the Dublin side, "but we've now got a stronger squad than last season and, so far, we haven't been hit by the same injury crisis we had to deal with, which can only be a plus.

"We now have absorbed the experience of having been in 1A for the first time and I feel that we are much better prepared for what is to come."

Hinch, though, may have some useful insight into their opposition as newly joined prop Craig Trenier, who has played for Ireland U20s and is now part of the Ulster Academy, played for Nure before heading north.

Ulster centre Stuart McCloskey makes his AIL debut for Hinch after being assigned from relegated Dungannon while flanker Charlie Butterworth – recruited by Ulster from Lansdowne – does likewise.

McCloskey lines out alongside Richard Reaney in a new-look midfield for Hinch, for whom Chris Quinn returns after his time with Cork Con.

Up front, Kyle McCall is at hooker for Hinch while second row John Donnan makes a long awaited return to AIL action after missing last season through injury.

Belfast Harlequins travel to UL Bohemians intent on improving on a tricky enough last season which ultimately saw them finish in sixth.

Coach Adam Larkin has Ulster players Rory Scholes, Neil McComb and the newly assigned Sean Reidy.

Elsewhere, newly promoted Ballymena host Corinthians and Malone, who just about held onto their top flight status last term, entertain Buccaneers.

Belfast Telegraph


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