GAA Football

Ballinderry's plans undone by worrying McKinless injury

Slaughtneil Padraig McGuigan with Kevin McGuckin of Ballinderry during the Derry Senior Football Championship quarter final match at Glen Maghera on Sunday. Picture Margaret McLaughlin 22-9-2019
From Cahair O'Kane at Glen

O’Neills Derry SFC quarter-final: Robert Emmet’s, Slaughtneil 1-14 Ballinderry Shamrocks 0-11

ALL the best laid plans Ballinderry had for trying to reverse recent fortunes against Slaughtneil were undone by two huge pillars of their performance yesterday.

As big-time championship football returned to Glen, Ballinderry arrived harbouring regrets from their last championship meeting with the Emmet’s, when their reduction 13 men undid their hopes.

This time it was none of their own doing. Gareth McKinless, whose move to centre-forward had been a revelation for a Shamrocks attack that’s a bit lighter in quality these days, went to make a run off Chrissy McKaigue after 11 minutes.

The pair tussled but it was wholly innocuous and the damage was all in the awkward fall by the Ballinderry forward, who was treated for several minutes before trying for 60 seconds to play on before having to give up the ghost.

“It’s too early to tell but it doesn’t look good,” his boss Fabian Muldoon said on the fear that it was the dreaded cruciate.

The game was sitting at 0-2 apiece, without a score from play yet, but in order to really push Slaughtneil, McKinless’ influence would be central. He was gone inside the first quarter and even though they made a fist of it for a while, largely through his brother Daniel, the spark went out of Ballinderry’s attack.

What didn’t help them beyond that was the nightmare they had on their own kickouts. Of 12 restarts from Ben McKinless in the first half, Slaughtneil won 10. They won another five after the break. It was a remarkable return that undermined any hope the underdogs had.

For Fabian Muldoon, that was the bigger factor in their defeat.

“When I came back in this year, one of the main plans was to get Gareth further up the field. He’s a good footballer and he has serious pace, and it was working rightly for us. It’s a massive loss, him to go off, but still the kickouts were the downfall.

“It was killing us, we’d no movement, it fell apart a wee bit. That’s a collective thing. We had plans in place but it just didn’t happen. They were the better team in the second half.

“Even halfway through the first half we could see it and we tried to change it but it didn’t happen, we kept kicking it long and Slaughtneil overloaded on it and won 4 kickouts in a row to go from two down to two up at half-time. The game was gone then, really.”

It was by design rather than accident. Slaughtneil planned to shut down the short ball and make it a dogfight around the middle in the expectation that they’d win it. Their plans came off to perfection.

“We knew Ben [McKinless] would go long, we’d planned not to give him the option to go short and he fell into what we’d planned and try to go on top of Kevin ‘Mossy McGuckin, and we got men in around Paudie G {McGuigan],” said Slaughtneil boss Pat Cassidy.

“The breaks are the luck, you wouldn’t want to be trying to win matches just on that, but today it fell for us.”

A wonderful effort from Daniel McKinless and a Ryan Bell free had pushed Ballinderry 0-7 to 0-5 ahead after 28 minutes, but Slaughtneil won four Ballinderry kickouts in a row and scored four points to go in two up.

Brendan Rogers was giving a masterclass at full-back, shutting Bell out in open play and bombing forward himself, and as time ticked on, the Emmet’s mastery of the game continued to grow.

While starting with a sweeper had invited Ballinderry into the game, they abandoned it until they took control and then went back to it against an opponent whose legs just didn’t have the same running power across the board.

Raymond Wilkinson – who along with Keelan Feeney was dismissed late on for two bookings in separate incidents – were within two when Rogers broke a ball away from Bell and Slaughtneil worked it the length of the field for Sé McGuigan to play in Christopher Bradley, who took the game’s only goal brilliantly.

That was on 41 minutes and despite the best efforts of Daniel Bateson at full-back and the fact that Connor Nevin kept Shane McGuigan scoreless from play, it was never really a serious contest after that.

Christopher Bradley finished with 1-3 in a typically consummate display, and in a game that lacked the edge of past meetings, Slaughtneil took a significant step towards winning back the Derry title – and a potential first round Ulster clash with Mickey Moran’s Kilcoo, if all goes to plan.


Slaughtneil: S Ó Casaide; K McKaigue, B Rogers, K Feeney; F McEldowney, C McKaigue, C McAllister; P Cassidy, P McGuigan; Shane McGuigan (0-6 frees), C Bradley (1-3, 0-1 free), M McGrath; B Cassidy (0-1), Sé McGuigan (0-1), C O’Doherty (0-2)

Subs: R Bradley for O’Doherty (50), J McGuigan for Sé McGuigan (55), C Cassidy for P McGuigan (59)

Ballinderry: B McKinless; R Scott, D Bateson, R O’Neill; K McGuckin (0-1), C Nevin (0-1), E Wilson; K ‘Moss’ McGuckin, O Duffin; A Mullan, G McKinless, D Lawn; D McKinless (0-2), R Bell (0-4, 0-3 frees), R Wilkinson (0-1)

Subs: C O’Neill (0-1) for G McKinless (11), R Wilson for Lawn (35), K Hagan for Duffin (37), C Mallaghan (0-1) for ‘Moss’ McGuckin (44), E Devlin for Wilson (50)

Referee: D Harkin (Slaughtmanus)

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