Ballymena and Armagh to battle it out at Eaton Park in Division 1B

Ballymena coach Andy Graham
Ballymena coach Andy Graham

Eaton Park hosts this week’s Division 1B Ulster derby as Ballymena and Armagh both look to bounce back from disappointing defeats last week.

Ballymena are bottom after losing to Banbridge and coach Andy Graham was disappointed by the performance.

“I think we might have been complacent just because we played well one week we thought it would happen the next week,” said Graham.

“We let ourselves down badly, missed too many tackles and just really won’t at it. We were poor enough in the first half playing against the wind and turned around at half time with the wind advantage 16-3 and if we get a grip of ourselves we can go on and win it, but we had yellow cards and that killed us badly and we never really got going.”

Graham feels Armagh is the prefect game to banish the demons of last week.

“The good thing is you’re straight back on the horse. Armagh are like ourselves - they had a good win the week before and didn’t perform as well last week either.

“There is plenty to play for. We’re at home and we need to make amends for last week and we just need to get back at.

“There is nothing worse than having a bad performance and then you have a week off and it lingers; this week we just have to get it right.

“We were good at home last year but it took us a while and we lost a few Banbridge, Ballynahinch, but we got ourselves sorted out and we had a very good record at home and we need to get that back sooner rather than later.

“It’s about getting back to basics and the guys on the pitch getting stuck in and we maybe stood off things a bit last week and at other times forced things, and made silly mistakes, so we have to keep or heads and play a sensible game whilst at the same time being competitive in all areas.”

Clive Ross is missing but Stephen Mulholland should return with Jordan Foster back on the wing, Ulster A out half Bruce Houston could make his AIL debut.

Armagh dropped to sixth after their defeat at St Mary’s, assistant coach Chris Parker is looking for a positive response.

“We didn’t turn up last week and we expect a bit of a reaction from the boys this week now,” he said.

“For any Ulster derby both sides will be up for it and after Ballymena’s convincing win against St Mary’s, the result at Rifle Park was a bit of a surprise.

“Being at home, Andy Graham will be expecting a reaction for his boys as well and it sets it up nicely for a big encounter.

“Mary’s deserved it but we didn’t perform and made too many errors. There was too much ill-discipline and when we good opportunities we didn’t take them.”

“It’s been a bit of a rivalry and the sides know each other well over the last couple of years and have faced each other in senior cups and senior league but it’s still 30 boys on a grass pitch and we’ll have to be at the top of the game.”