Ballinderry are short-odds favourites to lift the Ulster U21 club football title after annihilating a gallant but technically inferior St Patrick’s Donagh side by 6-14 to 1-5 at the Kickhams Creggan headquarters near Randalstown.
It was all too easy for the Derry representatives who had the match sewn up by the end of the first quarter, their Fermanagh opponents already sagging helplessly against the ropes.
If Ballinderry thrived as a collective unit, then Ryan Bell was the heartbeat of their side. The limited amount of senior experience afforded to him to date by new boss Brian McIver certainly stood the dynamic midfield ace in good stead as he single-handedly ran the show, his fielding, distribution and covering being of the highest order until he was called off with 10 minutes remaining.
He was ably supported by Daniel McKinless, who is due to play for St Mary’s University College against Tralee IT in the Sigerson Cup tomorrow, Lee Martin and Fintan Bell.
The latter top-scored with 2-4 but it was namesake Ryan who was the architect of many of the Ballinderry scores.
Ballinderry led by 3-6 to 0-1 at half-time and although Brian McDermott grabbed a late consolation goal for St Patrick’s they were never in the hunt against a well-drilled, sharply focused Derry side who meet Naomh Conaill from Donegal in an attractive quarter finals line-up next Sunday .
Bryansford will face Cavan Gaels and Armagh Harps take on Dromore St Dympna’s.
Ballinderry scorers: F Bell (2-4), R Bell (1-4), D McKinless (1-2), M Graham, D Lawn (1-0 each), M Quinn, L Martin (0-2 each).
St Patrick’s scorers: B McDermott (1-0), R Loughrey (0-2), K Curran, D Sugrue, M Montgomery (0-1 each).