BALLINDERRY v COLERAINE (Sunday, September 27th, Owenbeg - 5.45pm)
Extra Time In Event of a Draw
In the last 10 years, Ballinderry have only once failed to reach the semi-final of the senior championship. In this period they have reached the final on seven occasions, winning four.
They missed out on a semi-final spot in 2009 when Glenullin defeated them at the quarter-final stage and were beaten semi-finalists in 2005 and 2007.
Coleraine have only been in the senior ranks from 2008, exiting the title race to Loup in Round 2 after defeating Banagher to win their first senior championship game.
The Bannsiders defeated Ballinderry to win the 2010 title and lost to Ballinascreen after a replay in the 2-13 championship.
Ballinderry have had to take the ‘scenic route’ to this semi-final, going down 3-08 to 0-13 to Ballinascreen in the first round before getting back to winning ways with an emphatic 3-13 to 1-10 win over Glenullin to keep their championship hopes alive. In the Qualifiers they pulled away to see off Dungiven by 3-10 to 0-12, then crushing a disappointing Lavey team in the last eight with Conleith Gilligan scoring 1-09 in the 1-13 to 1-05 win.
Coleraine also had to take the circuitous route, beating Glenullin 0-15 to 0-12 at the first hurdle, then stumbling to a 3-10 to 0-12 defeat to Bellaghy in round 2.
In the Qualifier the Owen Roes got back on track with 1-11 to 0-05 win over Banagher, netting twice in the 2-08 to 0-09 win over Kilrea in what was Damian Barton’s last game in charge of the Pearses before his elevation to the Derry senior management role.
Ballinderry will come into this game as hot favourites but they should be wary of a Coleraine side that has improved significantly as the championship season progressed.
The return of Ciaran McGoldrick has played a big part in that revival, To date he has been used as an impact substitute but he may well be in from the start this weekend to form a potent inside trio with his brother Colm and Gavan McWilliams.
With Liam McGoldrick in the middle of the field alongside Niall Holly, Barry McGoldrick orchestrating the play from centre half forward and Sean Leo McGoldrick and Declan Mullan breaking at pace with the ball from half-back, Coleraine have attacking options that will test the Shamrocks defence.
However Ballinderry have shown that they too have a formidable attack, with Gilligan the top scorer in the championship and Raymond Wilkinson causing havoc with his pace from full-forward.
Daniel McKinless and Dermot McGuckin came on as replacements in the win over Lavey and they could be in from the start for this game, as could Gareth McKinless, to bolster even further a defence that bottled up almost completely the Cailean O’Boyle led Lavey attack.
With Enda Muldoon playing in a deep lying role and Ryan Bell coming back to top form in the middle third, Ballinderry will be very difficult to beat.
If Coleraine play in defensive mode, Ballinderry have the players to pick off scores from distance.
However should Coleraine play a pacy, attack minded game they have the players to cause serious bother for the Ballinderry defence.
It will be fascinating to see how the two sides set up, given the threat posed by the respective attacks.
Ballinderry are the pre-match favourites, Coleraine really having to produce a top drawer display, and more, to upset the odds.