THERE is a huge crowd expected in Healy Park on Sunday for the eagerly anticipated meeting of Errigal Ciaran and Ballinderry in the Ulster Club Championship quarter final.
The clash between two of Ulster club football’s biggest names will bring back memories of clashes during the 2000s and pit some of the provinces finest footballers head to head.
The game also would have pitted former Ballinderry player and proud clubman Ronan McGuckin against former team mates and manager Martin McKinless, but McGuckin has stepped back from the role in the build up to the clash.
While McGuckin may be missing from the sideline for Errigal, his work over the course of the year with Errigal will surely not vanish in his absence.
Both McGuckin and McKinless are former managers of Derrylaughan, McGuckin taking over from the Ballinderry manager last season.
The two men led the Barrys to two of their most succesful seasons in their recent history with McKinless winning an Intermediate championship with the side and McGuckin taking them to their first senior semi final since 1987.
Ciaran Quinn who was a key component of those Derrylaughan teams wasn’t hugely surprised by McGuckin’s decision.
“I wasn’t really overly surprised by the decision. Anyone that know’s him knows how passionate he is about Ballinderry.
“He is passionate about every team he is involved with and whenever you have two passions clashing and pulling in opposite directions then he wasn’t really going to give a true reflection of his abilities if he was playing Ballinderry. It was a bit of a double edged sword.”
Quinn went on: “I’m not really aware of all the details but I’m sure it was a very difficult decision for him to make.
“If the Errigal Ciaran committee are happy enough for him to take over in the short term then there shouldn’t really be an issue.
“He’s been working with the Errigal players all year and they’ve a settled team playing the kind of football Ronan wants them to play.
“Other than his intimate knowledge of Ballinderry his absence on the sideline won’t affect everything they have worked on all year up until this point.”
McGuckin played under Martin McKinless on their championship winning teams of 2006 and 2008 and has played with the vast majority of the Ballinderry players.
The Derrylaughan forward has nothing but praise for McGuckin’s management style: “From what I’ve seen of Errigal this year they seem to be a more rounded team than they had been. The players are by and large the same but they seem to be more organised and working together a bit better.”
Ballinderry manager, McKinless has a record in county club championship action second to none have won four senior titles with the Shamrocks in four attempts, as well that intermediate title with the Barrys during his one season with them.
Quinn points to McKinless’s attention to the finer details as the key to his success: “He liked to concentrate on specific aspects of your play rather than focussing on fitness or anything.
“He was able to extablish a good strong backroom team around him and bring in the likes of Dessie Ryan [currently in his backroom team at Ballinderry] for a few sessions.
“Dessie is a very deep thinker about football and he certainly helped my game by focusing on the smallest aspects of your play and improving them. He could break down the simplest task and improve how you went about it.”
Like McGuckin, Quinn points to McKinless’s man management skills as important to his success.
“His passion would rub off on players that mightn’t have been the easiest to motivate. He always believed in us as a team and that rubbed off on the players. He had belief on every player he put out onto the field and he got the best out of them.”
Sunday’s encounter is sure to be a cracking encounter with a number of intriguing man to man battles likely.
The potential clash of Enda Muldoon and Enda McGinley may be worth the admission fee alone, while stand in Errigal manager Tommy McDermott has a decision to make about whether we wants Tyrone man marker Aidan McCrory to mark Conleth Gilligan or the in form Collie Devlin.
Sunday’s encounter throws in at 2.30pm.