THERE are three BIG rugby Cup matches featuring Ballymena teams this weekend!
Ballymena RFC First XV take on City of Armagh in the final of the First Trust Senior Cup at Kingspan Stadium on Friday night (7.30pm).
And in the Danske Bank Schools’ Cup the following morning, Ballymena Acdademy play Belfast Royal Academy and neighbours Cambrige House tackle Wallace High School, both in the last 16 of the prestigious competition.
Meanwhile, Head coach at Ballymena RFC Andy Graham expects a tough task agains Armagh in the Senior Cup showdown.
The clubs met back in November last year in the All Ireland League and Ballymena were beaten 13-22 at home.
And in the Ulster League in December Ballymena won 24-21 in Armagh.
Head coach Graham and his side are very much looking forward to the final.
“It will be a difficult game for us,” outlined coach Graham. “But if we play the way we can we have a very good chance of bringing the silverware back to Ballymena.”
But the Eaton Park side will be taking nothing for granted.
For in last year’s Senior Cup final, which was against Armagh, the Braid men missed out on glory and allowed the opposition to bring the coveted trophy to the Palace Grounds for the first time in their history.
Ballymena aim to win back the Senior Cup for the first time since 2012/13.
Armagh have enjoyed a relatively trouble-free path to the final, with comprehensive wins over Bangor and Omagh, before defeating Rainey in the semi-finals.
Ballymena, however, have had a much more challenging run, edging out one-score wins over Dungannon, Malone and Ballynahinch.
Ballymena have an injury doubt over No. 8, Stephen Mulholland.
And at time of going to Press it was not known if JJ McKee and Bruce Houston were required for Ireland Under-20 duty.
PATHS TO THE FINAL
City of Armagh: Sat 1st Sep: City of Armagh 50 Bangor 14; Fri 14th Sep: City of Armagh 40 Omagh 3; Sat 5th Jan: City of Armagh 31 Rainey OB 15
Ballymena: Sat 1st Sep: Dungannon 18 Ballymena 22; Sat 15th Sep: Ballymena 33 Malone 27
Sat 5th Jan: Ballymena 22 Ballynahinch 20
On January 5 Ballymena turned in a top display to beat Ballynahinch 22-20 at Eaton Park.
But Ballymena have lost their last two All Ireland League games. (Continued on Page 46)