GAA: Ballinderry on an All Ireland mission

Ballinderry's Dermot McGuckin and Glenswilly's Ruairi Crawford with Ciaran Bonner
Ballinderry's Dermot McGuckin and Glenswilly's Ruairi Crawford with Ciaran Bonner

Ballinderry will play St Vincents of Dublin on Saturday evening for a place in the 2014 All Ireland Club final. The loughshore club ended their Ulster title drought towards the tail end of last year and now meet the Leinster champions in Newry.

Manager Martin McKinless know’s his side will have to be a the top of their game if they want to progress against Dublin’s most successful side.

The Marino side were All Ireland champions as recently as 2008 and claimed a hard fought Leinster crown in November getting the better of Portlaoise in the final.

Having beaten Glenswilly and Kingdom Kerry Gael of London to reach this point, the Ballinderry supremo knows his side will have to up their performance level if they want to reach the final.

“The bar will have to be raised for St Vincents,” said McKinless.

“They’re a very strong side with some ex-Dublin players and some current Dublin players as well, like [Diarmuid] Connolly, [Ger] Brennan and Mossy Quinn. They’re a good side all round.

“They’ve been proving themselves, winning Dublin championships over this last number of years. They’ve lifted the bar that much more again and they’re now in an All Ireland semi-final, like ourselves. It’s all there for whoever wants it the most on the day.”

McKinless admits that the long break between games has proven difficult for his side.

“We’ve had an eight or a nine week break now from the game in London and that’s a long time to try and keep players focussed.

“After the game we took a two week break and we came back we thought things were going to be the same as they normally were.

“We’ve had things after Christmas, things that we didn’t expect. We’re over that there and over the last four or five weeks things have been going well.”

The Ballinderry manager was delighted to have finally gotten this far but now he’s hoping his players can push on.

“It was our third time in an Ulster final and for the players themselves it was nice to win it.

“We’ve been there the last three years and won three Derry championships over the last three years, so it was nice to win it for the players, they put in an awful lot of hard work.

“A lot of people turn up on a championship day, go home and have a cup of tea in the evening.

“But we’re out here three nights a week putting in a lot of hard work. They deserve what they’ve got so far and now we can push on.”