Graham wants to see real Ballymena in All-Ireland play-off

Ballymena Rugby Club head coach Andy Graham. Picture: Press Eye.
Ballymena Rugby Club head coach Andy Graham. Picture: Press Eye.

Ballymena coach Andy Graham has called for a reaction from his players as the Braidmen visit Dublin University for the Ulster Bank All-Ireland League Division 1A playoff.

The Braidmen travel to Dublin on the back of two defeats including one in their last regular season game against relegated Belfast Harlequins at Deramore last week in a performance that Graham thought was unacceptable.

“I just though our minds weren’t on it and we didn’t perform. Some players were walking about the pitch and weren’t up for it compared to Harlequins who we knew were always going to be up for it. It was their coach’s last game. It was their last home game but in my eyes that doesn’t excuse the way we played,” said Graham.

“There were just so many things we were poor at, Harlequins played well but we should have been far better than we where, the amount of turnovers we had was shocking. There were knock-ons, boys losing the ball in contact, it was just a litany of errors.

“I think it shows what happens if you don’t have the right attitude going into a game.”

Both league matchs between Ballymena and Trinity went with home advantage.

“I think we’re are in better shape going into the game than the last time we played them. Losing on Saturday wasn’t ideal preparation but maybe it was the kick up the backside we needed.

“I think we’re going into it as huge underdogs and that really suits me and everybody will be under no illusions of what is required.

“It will be a very different team that will take the pitch, maybe a few personnel changes but it will be a very different attitude.

“We haven’t become a bad team overnight it’s about our attitude and no doubt it will be right come Saturday.

“Trinity are relentless, at the start of the season we scored five or six tries against them they still came back played to the end and scored four tries to get a losing bonus point.

“They have two of the best centres in the league, they have a very good nine and a well drilled pack of forwards,

“They are strong all over, and their wingers are quick.

“The 10 is a very nice play, for us we just have to get our intensity back and go back to playing how Ballymena play.

“It’s going to be physical. There is a lot of hard work going to be done by everybody on the pitch and we have to boss the game and I have no doubt if our attitude is right we’ll do that.”

Lock David Whann is unavailable but Connor Smyth returns, Ulster duo Clive Ross and John Andrew are available.