Ballinderry fired up as McGuckin's red is cleared
Ballinderry manager Martin McKinless believes that the inclusion of Kevin McGuckin in his side will represent a massive boost for the Derry champions ahead of next Sunday's Ulster club final against Glenswilly.
McGuckin, having had the red card which he incurred in the semi-final win over Kilcoo rescinded on appeal to the Ulster Council, is now fired up for one of the biggest challenges of his career.
The former Derry county defender, who has now morphed into a capable midfielder, played in the Ballinderry side that won both the Ulster and All-Ireland club titles in the 2001-2002 period and is keen to sample another major ration of glory in the twilight of a distinguished career.
And manager Martin McKinless is right behind his lion-hearted veteran as he prepares to face what will be a demanding stint in the engine-room against the Donegal champions.
"It's great that Kevin has been cleared to play in this final," states McKinless. "He has given a great deal to this club and it would have been a travesty had he been ruled out.
"I said when the incident occurred with the Kilcoo player on Sunday week last that Kevin had not struck out and thankfully his appeal has been successful.
"Now I want him to go on and help set the tone for our display against what is a very good Glenswilly side this weekend."
McGuckin will team up again with James Conway in midfield as McKinless reports "no major worries" in advance of the match.
"Obviously it was a very demanding game against Kilcoo and we picked up a few minor niggles but nothing of a serious nature – there are no major worries. Now we want to get totally focused for Sunday's game and try and bring the Ulster club title back to Ballinderry after an absence of twelve years," adds McKinless.
And he is preparing once again to maximise the strength contained within his substitutes' bench.
In the quarter-final against Scotstown and again against Kilcoo, players like Enda Muldoon, Darren Conway and Raymond Wilkinson deployed their experience to good effect when summoned into action.
All three look certain to see game time again on Sunday, particularly as Glenswilly have shown superb fitness and stamina levels in reaching the decider.
This will be their first final, their passage secured when they beat Fermanagh champions Roslea at the semi-final stage.
They are just the second club from Donegal to reach the provincial club final in the last 20 years, with only Naomh Conaill's beaten final appearance in 2010 bridging the gap since Killybegs' defeat in 1991.
Manager Gary McDaid, though, believes his side are ready to launch "one last push" for provincial glory.
"Next Sunday will be the biggest test in Glenswilly's history and we have to be ready for the challenge," he insists.
"It's one last push for the Ulster title. I think we have shown ourselves to be a decent side but they come no better than Ballinderry."