Senior Cup: Rainey Old Boys hoping to put one over on Cup holders Armagh; Ballymena face Ballynahinch

Defending First Trust Ulster Senioir Cup champions City of Armagh welcome Rainey to the Palace Grounds on Saturday (2.30pm).

Friday, 4th January 2019, 11:30 am
Updated Thursday, 10th January 2019, 2:29 pm
Jonathan Morton representing Armagh RFC, Paul Pritchard representing Rainey Old Boys RFC, Stephen Elliott President of the Ulster Branch, James Beattie representing the First Trust Bank, Conal Boomer representing Ballynahinch RFC and Matthew Norris representing Ballymena RF

Armagh lifted the trophy for the first time last season after beating Ballymena in the decider and in spite of there being 20 places between them in the All Ireland League assistant coach Chris Parker isn’t under estimating the Hatrick Park club.

“It has all the makings of an upset on the cards I guess but we haven’t taken them lightly we’ve done a lot of homework on them and they obviously didn’t start the season well but they have hit a lot form in that second block of fixtures and they are going well,” said Parker.

“They have some quality players that we cause us trouble, we’re looking forward to it, it’s something a bit different and the boys would love to get back to Kingspan again so the minds have been well focused.”

“It will be a very difficult match a lot of people will write Rainey off but they are a very good side and we’ll give them the upmost respect.”

“It will be great to get back to Kingspan and if we win on Saturday we’d then worry about who we’d face in the final, whenever you have got the trophy sitting in the clubhouse it would be really nice to keep it there for another year.”

Armagh are delighted to have home advantage.

“Whenever the draw happened all we wanted was a home fixture, we got it last year and I think he helped us against Malone that bit of extra support gives the boys a lift, the boys know it won’t win them the game but it can provide a bit of extra support.”

Rainey will look to transfer their league form to the cup as they try to win it for the first time.

Beaten finalists in 2013 the Old Boys have won their last six AIL games but travel to the defending champions with an injury crisis.

Tim Barker and Ronan McCusker are missing from the pack while flanker Paul Pritchard is a doubt.

Kiwi centre Conor Fitzsimmons is unavailable while full back Mickey O’Neill faces a late fitness test.

Ballymena are looking to go one better than last year as they host newly crowned SONI Ulster Premiership champions Ballynahinch at Eaton Park.

“We can take confidence from beating them in the AIL last month, we’re going to be a different side, we’re just trying to get ourselves right and get as many of our club guys as fit as we can,” stated Ballymena coach Andy Graham.

“If we get some key performers like David Whann and Rodger McBurney back on the pitch that will give us a lift, we need to get back to porridge because there are two big games coming up on the horizon with Buccaneers and Hinch, this game coming when it is a chance to get back in the rhythm.”

Out half Bruce Houston is on bench for Ulster against Leinster at the RDS.

Flanker Marcus Rea and scrum half Michael Stronge are also travelling to the RDS.