Banbridge RFC are more determined than ever to secure promotion.
Their bid to reach Division 1B was dealt a major blow in Galway on Saturday as they were beaten 21-10 by Galway Corinthians.
The result knocked Daniel Soper’s men off top spot, where they have spent much of the season, and leaves them relying on an unlikely upset this weekend to secure the title.
Banbridge host Malone in the final game of the season on Saturday (kick-off 2.30pm) while new leaders Naas welcome third-bottom Skerries. Bann would need to win their game and hope for a Skerries victory if they were to reclaim top spot.
All is not lost, however.
Second, third and fourth spots will enter into play-offs along with second bottom in Division 1B. And Bann need a win on Saturday to ensure they get a home draw in the semi-finals.
“Losing on Saturday was tough because it’s so close to the finish,” said Bann Coach Soper.
“Dropping off top spot at this stage really amplified the defeat.
“It was as quiet as I’ve seen the lads after the game but we stayed down in Galway and they had good craic and they’re all determined to get a win next week. We will bounce back and the lads are keen to put in a good performance this week.
“We will regroup and look to finish on a positive note. We still have to finish second to make sure we’re at home in the play-offs.
“If we were to lose on Saturday and have to go away, it would make things even more difficult.
“We just want to focus on finishing well.”
Bann, of course, are not totally out of the running for the title yet, although Soper admits a Skerries favour would be a mini-miracle.
He said: “It now looks unlikely that we will finish first because Skerries were beaten heavily on Saturday so it’s hard to see them causing an upset.
“At the same time, Galway have a bit of momentum so Skerries could see themselves slip behind them into the play-off spot. They’ll be determined to get a win and make sure that doesn’t happen. There are always strange results at this stage of the season that surprise and shock people. But we can’t worry about them.”