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Ballinderry veterans still hungry for glory

By John Campbell

The Ballinderry old guard is currently very much on sentry duty –and that could bode ill for Coleraine Eoghan Rua when the teams meet in the Derry senior football championship semi-final tonight at Owenbeg (8.00pm).

The passing years merely serve to amplify the desire of Ballinderry's venerable warriors to add to their honours haul and that's why Michael Conlan (37), Conleith Gilligan (34), Kevin McGuckin (33), Enda Muldoon (37) and James Conway (30) will be in the vanguard of the team's bid to make it into the final against either Dungiven or Slaughtneil.

Ballinderry reached the All-Ireland club semi-final earlier this year in which they lost to Dublin and Leinster champions St Vincent's but that defeat has made the south Derry outfit more determined.

"Obviously we just want to take one match at a time and Coleraine are our sole focus at the moment," says Ballinderry spokesman Cillian Conlan.

"The fact that so many of our vastly experienced players are still in there as keen as ever to gain honours just shows you the depth of commitment and ambition that there is within the club."

Coleraine are the last team to have beaten Ballinderry in domestic championship football –another significant reason just why the Shamrocks are keen to come out on top tonight.

"Coleraine are a good side with a lot of talented individual players and they seem to thrive in championship football," adds Conlan.

Niall Holly, Sean Leo McGoldrick and his brothers Barry and Ciaran along with the lightning-fast Declan Mullan provide the experience and power in a Coleraine side that has progressed steadily this year.

Slaughtneil, meanwhile, will be favourites to overcome Dungiven in the second semi-final on Saturday at Owenbeg (5.00pm).

Slaughtneil proved too strong for Kilrea in last weekend's quarter-finals while Dungiven got the better of Glenullin.

Slaughtneil are powered by Derry aces Patsy Bradley and Chrissy McKaigue while Kevin Johnston, who made a big impact in his debut term with the county side at wing-back this year, can help to inspire Dungiven who will also look to Mark Craig, a former Oak Leaf hurling star.

Crossmaglen Rangers will confront Dromintee in an Armagh championship quarter-final tomorrow night at the Athletic Grounds (8.00pm).

Jamie Clarke, James Morgan Aaron Kernan, Johnny Hanratty, Kyle Carragher and Tony Kernan will underpin the Rangers line-up while Armagh county stars Philip NcAvoy and Kevin Dyas can point the way for Dromintee, who have come close to challenging Rangers' supremacy in the county in the recent past.

Belfast Telegraph


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