Derry star Johnny McBride's experience will be key for Loup
M&L Contracts Derry Senior Football Championship semi-finals: St Colm’s, Ballinascreen v St Patrick’s, Loup (today, Owenbeg, 4.15pm)
NEITHER side has tasted championship success too often with the most recent of Ballinascreen’s four victories coming in 1973 and Loup winning their third crown in 2009.
After struggling to beat Coleraine in the opening round, Ballinascreen showed much improved form when ousting a highly fancied Magherafelt 2-14 to 1-12. In their opening round, Loup overcame division two champions Glenullin, who started without Paddy and Eoin Bradley but introduced both off the bench.
In the quarter-final, Loup were pitted against a young and vibrant Glen side that had impressed in their preliminary round win over Swatragh. There was little between the sides for much of the game but Loup’s greater experience played its part as they emerged three-point winners.
Loup have a strong and mobile midfield pair in Terence O’Brien and Aidan McAlynn, with Anthony O’Neill, Paul McVey, Paul Young and Declan McVey important players inside. Goalkeeper Thomas Mallon is very much in the Stephen Cluxton mould with his ability to set up attacking moves from well-placed kick outs.
Shane Mulgrew was the outstanding player in Ballinascreen’s win over Magherafelt, with Benny Heron playing a huge role in the victory with 0-4. Defender Michael McShane was forced to retire early in that game and could be a doubt but Ballinascreen have Dermot Scullion back after injury. With Dermot McBride, Phillip Bradley and the industrious Carlus McWilliams pushing forward from deep they have the providers to create the scoring chances for Mulgrew and Heron.
Former Derry star Johnny McBride has won two SFC titles with Loup and has the experience to guide them to another decider. Ballinascreen have Trillick man Liam Donnelly at the helm this year and he has galvanised them into serious title challengers.