Banbridge boss wants better in Ulster derby against Rainey OB

Banbridge coach Daniel Soper. Picture credit: John Dickson / DICKSONDIGITAL
Banbridge coach Daniel Soper. Picture credit: John Dickson / DICKSONDIGITAL

Banbridge need to up their game this weekend if they’re to win their Ulster derby against Rainey OB.

That’s the stark warning from their head coach Daniel Soper who is demanding better as the side chases All Ireland League promotion.

They beat lowly Seapoint 34-12 at Rifle Park last weekend but an improved display will be required when they make the trip to Magherafelt on Saturday (kick-off 2.30pm).

“When it comes to an Ulster derby like this, league positions don’t mean much at all,” said Soper, whose side have double the amount of points their opponents have amassed.

“Our last Ulster derby was against City of Derry. When we played them, they were bottom of the league and we went up there and lost.

“Last season we were sitting rock bottom and played Ballymena, who went on to be promoted and got our first victory. That got the ball rolling for us.

“So we’ll forget about league positions this weekend. This is a big Ulster derby that we need to get ourselves up for.”

Last Saturday’s win sent Soper’s side up to fourth in the Division 2A table.

Eugene was oh so close to fulfilling his Olympic ambition last time out, when Ireland hosted the qualification tournament.

They made it all the way to the final and were ahead twice thanks to Peter Caruth and Timmy Cockram. However, South Korea came back and snatched the win in the closing seconds.

This time, Eugene is confident the new squad have what it takes to make up for that crushing defeat.

“I think we have a good team,” he said. “It’s relatively young but the guys are all decent players.

“We have a solid, experienced back line. Kirk Shimmonds is in the squad and he has played very well. I’m fairly experienced now as well.

“Up front, we have young Shane O’Donaghue, who is playing very well and now Stevie Dowds has made his way into the squad for a major tournament, which is great for him. He’s very deserving of his spot.”

Ireland’s most capped player, Eugene will be helping Stevie and his other two Bann team-mates to adapt to an major international setting.

“Drew has worked hard all year and has earned his place,” he said. “Bruce is a very solid player for Ireland. It’s great to have those boys in the squad and it will be nice to bring our experiences back to help Bann, especially because we’re still in the running for the five trophies.

“I just hope we can achieve something out of the trip. We had one poor match against France recently so we need to learn from those mistakes. Our training camp in South Africa was helpful too. Playing against the likes of Holland Belgium gives us something to shoot for.

“We’ll have to play well out there though. We have been perceived as a smaller country before and we have made moves forward so sometimes you don’t really know what to expect against these sides.”