Martin McKinless back in Ballinderry Shamrocks hot-seat
MULTI-CHAMPIONSHIP winning clubman Martin McKinless is back at the helm of Ballinderry Shamrocks for a fourth time.
McKinless returns after a two-season hiatus from his native club, having stepped down after the run to the All-Ireland semi-final in early 2014. He had taken them to the club's third Ulster title the previous winter before ending his tenure following defeat by eventual All-Ireland champions St Vincent's.
His assistant Fabian Muldoon took over ahead of the 2014 season, while McKinless ended up in charge of Tyrone neighbours Ardboe this year. It was there he suffered a first ever club championship defeat within a county championship, when they were beaten by Dromore in the first round of the Tyrone SFC.
He had previously guided Ballinderry to five Derry senior and several reserve championships, as well as having taken Derrylaughan to a Tyrone IFC title in 2010. His only championship defeats prior to this year had come in the provincial or All-Ireland series.
McKinless had been strongly linked with the Derry job before it was given to 1993 legend Damian Barton. His backroom team will include highly-rated strength and conditioning coach Mick McGurn. His long-term assistants Joe Canavan and Karl Conlan will also rejoin the ticket.
Their lough-shore rivals Loup have also made a high-profile appointment, naming club legend Johnny McBride as their new boss. The former Derry captain has been touted for the role on a few occasions since retiring from playing duty with two county medals and the 2003 Ulster title. He managed Galbally to a Tyrone intermediate championship final in 2011, where they lost to Gavin Devlin's Kildress.
McBride will be joined by former Tyrone player Richard Thornton, who missed out on a Tyrone SFC title earlier this year when his Coalisland side were beaten by eventual winners Trillick. McBride and Thornton take over from Peter Doherty, whose reign ended with a disappointing championship quarter-final defeat by Bellaghy in September.
Mickey Moran, John Joe Kearney and Paddy Flynn will remain for another season at the helm of back-to-back Derry champions Slaughtneil, while Enda Gormley is understood to be in line for a return to the hotseat in his native Glen.