Andrews set for return in Bann’s biggest match of the season

James Andrews is set to return to Bann's line-up this weekend INBL15-213EB
James Andrews is set to return to Bann's line-up this weekend INBL15-213EB

Centre James Andrews is set to make an unexpected return to competitive action in one of the biggest game’s in Banbridge’s history.

The club stalwart has played only a few first team matches in a season interrupted by injury and the opening of his Think Fit gym in Lisburn.

However, injury to vice-captain Jonny Little means coach Daniel Soper is set to call upon the man he says is ‘a God-send’ to fill the gap.

“I’ve played about seven or eight times this season but I was glad to get basically a full game against Ulster Juniors last week,” said Andrews.

“Working in the gym, I would like to think I am fit enough, but nothing can replicate a match situation

“I will be really excited if I am involved. I have played in a number of these games for Banbridge in the past. It would be fantastic to get promoted a second time.”

That experience of the big-game situation will be invaluable for Bann, who will be without skipper Adam Ervine. Both he and Little sustained their injuries during the warm-up game against Ulster Juniors.

“We knew we were taking that risk but to lose our captain and vice-captain like that is a pretty big blow,” said coach Daniel Soper.

“Hopefully Peter Cromie will be ok to play and Miles O’Hagan will start on the wing. Jonny Porter will come back in after missing the warm-up game. They’re excellent players as well.

“It’s been a bit more complicated to replace Jonny but I contacted James last week and asked him to come down on Saturday to provide cover.

“That proved a God-send. We’re very lucky to have him.”

In Bann’s meetings with Cork so far this season, it’s one win each, both going the way of the home side. Bann only lost out by a point down south but won 16-3 the last time the teams met at Rifle Park.

“They’re a good side,” said Soper. “They had a rocky start to the year thanks to injuries but since then they have got some cracking results. They have some dangerous players.”

Soper was, overall, pleased with his side’s display against the Ulster team last week and is hopeful that they have what it takes to see off UCC.

He said: “In the first half last weekend, there was some rustiness but there were signs of what we want to do and then we got better and better. We scored a few good tries and the lads will take confidence from the game.

“We have an impressive record at home too. The lads will take confidence from that as well.”

Bann’s form at Rifle Park this season is a perfect 10 wins out of 10 competitive matches.