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Ballynahinch Target Clontarf Scalp

Ballynahinch Target Clontarf Scalp

Assistant coach Charlie McAleese wants Ballynahinch to quickly put their home draw with bottom side Dolphin behind them, as they look to turn over defending Ulster Bank League champions Clontarf next Saturday.

After beating Lansdowne and St. Mary’s College, Ballynahinch have stalled somewhat in recent weeks with an away defeat to Young Munster and a 7-7 draw with Dolphin at Ballymacarn Park.

The result against Dolphin last Saturday saw Derek Suffern’s men fall to sixth in the Division 1A table, but they are just two points behind Young Munster in third.

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This is a crucial part of the season for ‘Hinch as following their clash with Clontarf at Castle Avenue this weekend, they host City of Derry in a November 29 Ulster Senior Cup semi-final before returning to Ulster Bank League action against current leaders Terenure College on December 6.

For now all of their focus is on claiming the scalp of Clontarf who have yet to win in November, with the title holders losing successive league games to Terenure, Old Belvedere and Cork Constitution.

Speaking ahead of the trip to Dublin, ‘Hinch assistant coach Charlie McAleese said: “This week we are away to Clontarf, so it is a game we can target. I see they lost again (to Cork Con) and while they are a quality team, a big team and a physical team, they do play a wee bit more rugby than some other teams in this league. It will be a difficult assignment but surely we can’t play so poorly (again).”

McAleese was rather disappointed with the outcome of their round 7 date with Dolphin and in particular, the poor second half display. ‘Hinch failed to add to a penalty try awarded to them before half-time, which cancelled out Ryan Murphy’s converted effort for the Corkmen.

“We had a good spell at the end of the first half, having not play particularly well. They were down to 14 men for the start of first 10 minutes of the second half – it was a time that we had to make hay,” he said, referring to the sin-binning of Dolphin prop James Rochford.

“However, it was a time that we played particularly poorly, we missed an important penalty to touch at that stage which would have encamped us deep in their half. Having then got in at the far corner we had a chance to establish territory, but we gave away a cheap penalty tackling the man on the ground.

“Those were two key moments in the game which would have given us good field position in their half with a dominant scrum and lineout.”

While Ballynahinch’s set pieces were in rude health, they will be working hard this week to correct some breakdown issues that were evident during the Dolphin match.

“We struggled to hold onto the ball throughout the game. There was some strange play by us at the breakdown, we were very loose in that area – the setting of the ball at the ruck was very poor.

“As a result we failed to build phases. We have found in this league you need to build phases to score points and quite often we couldn’t get past two phases of play.”

However, McAleese also gave credit to Dolphin for making it a difficult day for ‘Hinch as the division’s bottom side picked up two hard-won points on the road.

“Dolphin worked hard, they played a narrow game, their pick and drive was very good as was their kicking game that pushed us back from time to time.

“I suppose fortunately, (with us) having played so poorly, they didn’t pick up a penalty in our half. The bonus is we got the draw and we have come away with two points.”