Bann can’t afford any slips in All Ireland League games

Banbridge are entering a key period in their All Ireland League season. INBL1446-267PB
Banbridge are entering a key period in their All Ireland League season. INBL1446-267PB

Banbridge coach Daniel Soper says his side’s next two games will have a huge influence on their success this season.

They travel to take on Skerries this Saturday (kick-off 2.30pm) and then go to Dungannon on Saturday 20 December in two key Ulster Bank All Ireland League matches.

Bann currently sit in 10th spot in the Division 2A table but, thanks to league restructuring, a slip any further down the league would result in relegation.

“These next two games are vital,” he said.

“They’re so important with the league changes coming in. If we can get two results, it sets us up to have a big end to the campaign. We can’t afford to slip out of the top 10.

“The league table is very tight from the bottom to the top. A couple of good weeks and you can be well up the table.”

Saturday’s opponents Skerries are currently above Bann in sixth spot but Soper is hoping his side can leapfrog them 
this weekend.

“They’re a very good side who have a some really useful backs,” he said. “They like to run plenty of ball but we’ll certainly be going down there looking for the win.

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Hopefully we can go down there, put in a good performance and get that.
“Last time out against Barnhall, we put in a very good defensive performance. We were well organised and that’s what won us the game. We absorbed a lot of pressure so hopefully we can do that again this weeka nd build on it going forward.

Bann have had another two free weekend leading up to this weekend’s game but Soper is hoping the break will mean Niko Vorster, Jonny Weir, Chris Allen and Jonny Graham will all be available for selection.

“It’s hard to get any momentum going when it’s so stop start,” he said.

“On the one hand, we had just got a win so it might have been nice to keep on playing but on the other hand, we had a number of injuries and hopefully those couple of weeks mean we’ll get a few of those guys back and be able to go into the game with a stronger squad.

Not in the squad this weekend will be Ryan Patterson, who could be sidelined until Christmas and Colin Bickerstaff, who has a decision to make on whether or not to call an end to his career.

“Colly got injured and he’ll maybe hang the boots up now,” said Soper.

“This was his last season and he injured his ankle and had to take a couple of weeks off work, which we can’t afford to do. He’ll maybe call it a day now. It’ll be a good eight to ten weeks out anyway so we’ll wait and see.”