ALL IRELAND LEAGUE: Bann coach Dan Soper wary of slipping up in title race

Banbridge coach Dan Soper.
Banbridge coach Dan Soper.

Banbridge and Naas go into the last three games tied at the top of Division 2A.

Dan Soper’s side are second on points different and face consecutive games against the bottom two before finishing the campaign against play-off chasing Ulster rivals Malone.

“Naas are an excellent side and were really good when we played them down there and they had set their stall out to finish in that top place,” said Soper.

“You can’t write off UCC (third) just yet and if they win at the weekend and we slip up, you have three teams that are pretty tight and then you’re talking about points difference.

“We can’t worry about what happens in Cork between those two teams this weekend we can only focus on ourselves and our performance.

“We have just focused on short term goals and where you sit in the league is a result of hitting your targets.

“When you get this close to the end of the year you can’t help having a look at the league table and looking at who the other teams are going to play; my job is to make sure when we turn up on Saturday we are only really worried about our own job and take care of what we can look after. “If we do that for three games things might go our way and that’s my challenge at the moment.”

Bann host Thomond at Rifle Park, the Limerick side are in a relegation battle and Soper feels his side must get a bonus point win.

“I think we have to and I think we would have been aiming in this game regardless of the league,” he said.

“At the start of the year one of our targets was to score four tries in as many games as we can and this would have been a game we would have looked at and said, ‘we’re at home, it’s March and the weather is improving’.

“At our off-season meeting we targeted nine four-try bonus points, so in half our games we wanted to get four tries and we are not far of that. We are also said if we are going to lose, be hard to beat and get a losing bonus point and I think we have only had one loss where we didn’t get anything,” Soper reflected.

“That’s the way the league is structured and the way the points are allocated it doesn’t say you have to win ‘x’ amount of games to finish in a certain position.”

Thomond, though, are looking to do a league double over Bann and Soper said: “Our next two games are against sides that fighting to avoid the 10th spot and automatic relegation, these are dangerous teams and it’s important we start well, get on top early and start having them think they’ll get the points they need in the last two games.

“They beat us down there earlier in the year so we have to respect that and go out and beat them.”

John Porter is unavailable so Miles O’Hagan starts on the wing.

Malone are a point of the play-offs and travel to basement club Corinthians.

“With our position we’re still in with a chance of the play-off but we need to win all our games,” said coach Jarrett Truscott.

“We’re taking it one game at a time and need to take five points this week.

“Corinthians are fighting to avoid relegation and we can’t be slack we have to go and get the job done.”

Meanwhile, Queen’s will host Nenagh at the Dub.