Things certainly didn’t go to plan for Ballinderry on Sunday but they managed to dig in and dig out a 1-8 to 0-10 win over Scotstown in Clones.
The Derry champions had lost out to Errigal Ciaran at this stage 12 month ago but showed commendable spirit to fightback to beat Scotstown by the narrowest of margins.
Ballinderry had trailed the Monaghan kingpins at the break and with 15 minutes remaining they appeared to be heading for the Ulster Club trap door but points from Conleth Gilligan and a Darren Conway got them back in front.
Scotstown did draw level again however but it was county star Ryan Bell who had the last word with a late winner.
Bell had one of his quietest hours for some time shackled by Monaghan attacker come man-marker Kieran Hughes but his score proved the difference between the sides as Scotstown’s late efforts yielded nothing.
Ballinderry opened the scoring with Dermot McGuckin pointing after a good pass from Aaron Devlin.
They could well have been two points behind when Scotstown got the ball into the Shamrocks net but it had been adjudged that the ball had gone wide.
The Monaghan champions did begin to fire however and a free from Rory Beggan brought the sides level.
Scotstown corner forward, Conor McCarthy, a Monaghan county minor who had impressed on their Ulster title winning side then added two scores from placed balls to open a two point gap for Mattie McGleenan’s side.
Ballinderry responded with a point from corner back Michael McIver to narrow the gap but Scotstown were full of confidence and responded through the dangerous fulll forward Nicholas Corrigan.
The Monaghan men did spurn chances as well at this time to go further ahead but the Shamorcks didn’t panic and brought the scores level again.
The first point came via the boot of Collie Devlin before his brother Aaron put the finishing touches on an excellent move after an error by Scotstown.
The Scotstown men led at the break however as Kieran Hughes fired over an effort just before the half time whistle.
Things didn’t look too bad for the Shamrocks at this point but Scotstown emerged for the second half in determined mood.
Ballinderry had been forced to withdraw Aaron Devlin due to injury and they replaced him with veteran Enda Muldoon.
Three quick points from the Scotstown men though left the Shamrocks stirring defeat squarely in the face.
Brian McGinnity got the first score of the second half before Darren Hughes registered his first point of the day to extend the lead.
Centre half forward Shane Carey got a point of his own for the Monaghan men shortly after leaving Ballinderry in trouble.
The Shamrocks nerves were further increased as they missed a number of chancesbefore Collie Devlin pointed a free to settle their nerves somewhat,
Conleth Gilligan, so often a man on whom Ballinderry can rely at this level, popped up with two frees to bring the game back all square.
Back in the game Ballinderry got perhaps the contest’s most important score as Gareth McKinless set upDarren Conway for a goal.
This gave Ballinderry thea lead for the first time from the opening minutes but Scotstown responded well and got themselves back on level terms with the Shamrocks thanks to points from midfielder James Turley and from Kieran Hughes.
Bell would step up though and slot over Ballinderry’s winning score to send Martin McKinless’s men into an Ulster Club semi-final with either Kilcoo or old adversaries Crossmaglen who replay their drawn first round encounter this Sunday.