Cup win would be perfect lift for remainder of season - rugby coach

Ballymena Rugby Club will be without the injured Matthew Harkness for the remainder of the season.

Ballymena Rugby Club will be without the injured Matthew Harkness for the remainder of the season.

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A Senior Cup triumph could provide the perfect springboard for Ballymena Rugby Club’s bid to return to the top table of Irish club rugby.

That is the view of the Eaton park club’s head coach Andy Graham ahead of Thursday night’s eagerly-awaited final with Ballynahinch.

“To win the cup would be a real confidence boost for the whole team and the whole club that we’re going in the right direction.

“The first half of season you get through but it’s from now on you pick up injuries, some of them serious.

“We have guys like Matthew Harkness who came in this season, playing at seven, and who has been brilliant for us but he has done his cruciate ligament and is out for the rest of the season.

“As the season goes on you pick up more and more of those injuries and that’s where it becomes difficult.

“I think our squad is a bit stronger this season and that is one of the things we worked on, bringing players through, we recruited well to try to have that stronger squad to be able to compete on a number of different fronts for the likes of the Senior Cup and the All-Ireland League as well.

“Promotion is an aim but it will all come down to things like a injuries and having a wee bit of luck on the day.

“We will see how it pans out.

“You look at boys that Ulster A have been pulling up - Callum Patterson, Rodger McBurney, Matthew Rea and Connor Smyth - they are four guys who consistently perform for us and come up with big performances week in, week out.

“But there have been other players like John Creighton before his injury and even in his place, Glenn Bailie has reacted well to getting an opportunity.

“But you could go through the whole team.

“There are lots of leaders in there even though they’re still young at maybe 22 or 23 but they are counted as senior players now. They make good decisions week in, week out,” added Graham.