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Ballinderry's McKinless could be on treble but just wants a win

By John Campbell

GARETH McKinless is in line to land a significant hat-trick when he lines out for Ballinderry Shamrocks against St Vincent's in tomorrow's All-Ireland club football semi-final at Pairc Esler Newry.

In the Ulster final against Glenswilly and then in the All-Ireland quarter-final win over Kingdom Kerry Gaels in London the 19-year-old utility player was named man of the match.

But while the modest McKinless admits he would have no objection to landing a triple helping of personal success, his top priority will be to see his side steer a safe course into the All-Ireland final against Castlebar Mitchels or Dr Crokes on St Patrick's Day.

"What really matters is that the team achieves a victory," states McKinless.

"This is a huge match for us and we will have to be at our best. St Vincent's have a great pedigree and will probably bring big support to Newry so there should be a tremendous atmosphere."

Usually lining out as a corner-back, the 19-year-old is more often than not found in other pivotal positions, curbing the talents of established players boasting considerable experience.

He was one of the rocks on which proud Donegal champions Glenswilly perished during the Ulster final when an astute switch sent him into the centre of the defence to snuff out the menace of the marauding Michael Murphy.

Now McKinless is preparing to get to grips with a St Vincent's side which includes two of last year's All-Ireland winning Dublin outfit in Diarmuid Murphy and Ger Brennan.

"St Vincent's will travel to Newry with confidence," states McKinless.

"They claimed some big scalps in winning the Leinster championship and we know they will be ready for us."

His father Martin is the Ballinderry manager and to date his tactical awareness has underpinned the team's push to glory.

With Michael McIver being frequently pushed up into the attack, even though normally deployed as a defender, Ryan Bell able to play with equal facility at full-forward or midfield and Conleith Gilligan bringing his vast experience and craft to the table, the Ballinderry boss certainly has rich resources with which to work.

"We have just kept driving ourselves on. When we won the Derry title we wanted the Ulster crown and now we have set our sights on the All-Ireland trophy.

But really we are looking no further than tomorrow's game against a St Vincent's side," points out McKinless.

It could well be that his son Gareth will be asked to police St Vincent's danger-man Diarmuid Connolly. If so, then it is more than possible that the sting could well be taken out of the Dublin team's attack.

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