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Ballinderry boss Alan McKinless wants young guns to do it on Ulster stage

By John Campbell

It was Alan Hansen who famously quipped back in 1995: "You can't win anything with kids."

Ballinderry manager Martin McKinless, for one, has certainly paid little heed to the former Liverpool's star cryptic observation which has come back to haunt him more than once.

When the Derry champions face their Monaghan counterparts Scotstown in the Ulster club football championship quarter-final on Sunday, no fewer than five Under 21 players will be included in McKinless's line-up.

And he has not the slightest hesitation about throwing his arsenal of young guns in against a team that has suddenly acquired a burgeoning reputation following their clinical destruction of Clontibret in the Farney decider.

Ryan Bell, Aaron Devlin, Daniel McKinless, Darren Lawn and Gareth McKinless form the youthful heartbeat of a Ballinderry side that has won the last three Derry titles but which manager McKinless feels now deserves to win the provincial accolade.

But deserve is a word that invariably tends to be fraught with uncertainty in a GAA context.

"I feel that we have under-achieved in Ulster," said McKinless.

"This Ballinderry squad has put in an awful lot of hard work and while we are pleased to have won three Derry titles on the bounce we feel that we deserve more in terms of Ulster honours."

Perhaps this assessment in itself will serve as a motivational tool for a Ballinderry side that, while making a generous concession to youth, nevertheless has its foundations in solid experience.

Kevin McGuckin, Conleith Gilligan, Michael Conlan, Enda Muldoon and James Conway are among players who have been round the block more than once with Ballinderry having shared in the club's finest hour when the All Ireland club title was captured in 2002 under the capable baton of Brian McIver, whose son Michael is now in the side.

"Obviously Crossmaglen Rangers have been the dominant force in the province," said McKinless.

"We have lost to them on occasions in the past but we feel that the experience we have gained and the level of desire that is contained in this side will combine to help us make headway."

* CROSSMAGLEN Rangers look set to complete their club campaign without star forward Jamie Clarke, who is still in the US.

The reigning Ulster champions face Kilcoo in an Ulster quarter-final on Sunday in Newry.

Clarke has missed Crossmaglen's entire Armagh championship campaign and, with no sign of an imminent return from New York, the club are now conditioned to being without him for as long as they are involved.

Belfast Telegraph


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