Banbridge and Ballynahinch set for promotion battle

Banbridge's 'Josh Cromie.
Banbridge's 'Josh Cromie.

Banbridge and Ballynahinch will battle it out at Rifle Park for a place in the 1B promotion final this weekend.

On a dramatic last day which saw Shannon win the league Bann beat UL Boh’s to finish second and snatch home advantage from their Co Down rivals, who lost to Old Belvedere.

Dan Soper’s side won both the league games during the regular season and the Kiwi is hoping Banbridge can draw on that confidence as they chase consecutive promotions.

“For a long time we had a chip on our shoulder. We’d turn up to play Hinch and didn’t believe we could beat them and we had times when we were close and be there or thereabouts with 15/20 minutes to go, and they’d find a way to beat us,” said Soper.

“There has been a bit of a change in mind-set from the players this year and they were able to go and finish the job on those two occasions.

“In a one-off game once that whistle goes it is just the next 80 minutes and what has happened in the past is done; you can only focus what is happening in the moment and win those moments on the pitch.

“It’s always nice to be a home, we have a very proud record at home - it’s that bit more comfortable in your own environment, it’s good but it certainly doesn’t win you the game,” he added.

“In the last two weeks Shannon have been the team that were able to win their last two games and Hinch and ourselves were unable to do that, so on that basis Shannon were the deserved winners of the league.”

Soper is hoping it is Banbridge can get out of the blocks quickly.

“There have been fast starts in our last two games, unfortunately not for us,” he said.

“These games always ebb and flow... it’s just having the patience, confidence and belief in what you are doing.”

John Porter is unavailable so fit again Josh Cromie comes onto the wing.

Hinch are boosted by the return of Ollie Loughead and Peter Browne to the pack while Peter Nelson and Aaron Cairns are both available.