League leaders Banbridge focused on final four games

Malone's Richard Millar
Malone's Richard Millar

Banbridge’s promotion destiny is in their own hands, a bonus point win last time out over Skerries means Dan Soper’s side have a three point lead over Naas at the top of Division 2A with four games remaining.

The Rifle Park side face a trip to sixth placed Nenagh who are two points outside the playoffs.

“We’re one point ahead of what our target was at this stage,” said Soper.

“Taking the position in the league out of it our target was always the number of points we could pick up and the league position would take care of itself if we hit our own targets.

“The target with four games to go was 49 points and we’re on 50 so if we hit our target over the next four games I think we’d be pretty close to finishing top.”

And he added; “I wouldn’t say Skerries was our most polished performance in fact, it was far from it, but we got the job done and got five points out of the fixture which was the important thing.

“We took a week off completely last week and didn’t train at all just to freshen up for a charge at the last four games.

“The depth of our squad is certainly going to be tested over the next four games but that is no different to anyone else in the AIL.

“No team has massive squads that can put out their top team every week. We’re a bit light but we still have a pretty strong team that is going to go to Nenagh and we go with optimism.

“It’s always very difficult, Nenagh are in sixth but have won eight games.

“That is two less than what we have so their league position could be significantly different with another couple of wins and they will be chasing hard to get into the top four and they aren’t a millions miles from even getting to the top.”

The top six all play each other this weekend.

He continued; “It’s going to be quite a shake up, if ourselves and Naas win this weekend you would think we’d finish first and second but which way round that is will be interesting.

“If we lose then all of a sudden you have four teams that can finish in the top positions so it’s important to get a result but it certainly won’t be an easy one to get.”

James McCrum and John Porter come back into the squad in the only changes from Skerries.

It’s fourth against third at Gibson Park as Malone host UCC, Jarrett Truscott’s side will be looking to build on a bonus point win at Thomond.

“We got back on track, it took us time to get the wheels going round against a good Thomond side that were fighting relegation and fair play to the guys they got the job done with a bonus point,” said Truscott.

A win for Malone would lift them above the Cork students.

Truscott added; “It could be a tricky one with the conditions and the style they play.

“We just have to play for the full 80 minutes and I’m comfortable with the fitness now it’s not an issue and we’ll try to move the ball but there is no room for slip ups and if you drop games at home at this stage you’re in trouble.”

Richard Milliar returns at openside flanker, Michael Cartmill and Mark O’Connor start in the back line but Gary Crawford, Ben McDonnell and Rory Campbell miss out due to injury.

Seventh placed Queen’s travel to Skerries who are a place below them.