Dave Shanahan return a boost for Ballymena ahead of Corinthians test

Dave Shanahan makes a welcome return for Ballymena
Dave Shanahan makes a welcome return for Ballymena

It’s second against second bottom in Division 1B as Ballymena look to enhance their promotion credentials in Galway against Corinthians.

Andy Graham’s side have opened up a four point gap over third placed Garryowen after a win at Buccaneers in their last outing.

The Braidmen are boosted by having prop Dave Ryan, scrum half Dave Shanahan and centre Ricky Andrew released by Ulster but front rowers Michael Lagan and Adam McBurney are with the Ireland U20’s.

“Having the Ulster players gives us a lift and emphasis, Dave Shanahan’s whole game has improved, he has matured and is very accurate with his passing and kicking,” said Graham.

The coach was happy with the 23-8 at Dubarry Park last time out.

“It was a very tough and hard game, we got a good start and a early try which set us up then we got another try which killed them off.”

Ballymena beat Corinthians 20-0 at Eaton Park on the opening day of the season but Graham is expecting a tough game in Galway.

“We played very well on the first day and things went for us we got a bit of luck, on the road you never know what you’re going to get and it is about keeping the players up to performance and we’ve been doing that so far season,” he added.

“We are under no illusion that it will be a tough game but we know if we perform we can beat anybody in this league on our day. Last week against Armagh we looked a bit tired so we have freshen things up a bit this week.”

Ryan comes in at loose head prop for Lagan with James Taggart starting at hooker and former Ireland prop Bryan Young is on the tight head side.

Ian Caldwell is unavailable so Connor Smyth and Mark Foster are in the second row with Matthew Rea moving to blindside flanker.

Shanahan forms the half back pair with Ritchie McMaster, Andrew starts in midfield with Marty Irwin and Timmy Small is on the wing.