McIver’s early goal boost edges Ballinderry past Dromore

A GOAL inside the opening minute was the crucial score as Ballinderry held off Dromore challenge to set up a semi-final clash with Crossmaglen.

Michael McIver, brother of Dromore manager Paul, ghosted in for that vital strike after just 32 seconds, leaving the Tyrone champions to chase the game right to the end. Conleith Gilligan’s accuracy was another vital component in the Derry side’s armoury. He shot six points as they just about deserved their two points success at Healy Park.

Ballinderry defender Kevin McGuckin agreed the early goal was the key to his side’s narrow win.

“It could have gone either way, it was a real roller-coaster of a game,” he said.

“We got the early goal, just like the county final, and it set us up well. But Dromore responded so well and came right back at us, and they were playing against the breeze. We were two points up at half-time, and we knew it was going to be a real ding-dong game in the second half.”

It was hard work and honest endeavour that made the Ballinderry side tick, and will be equally as important in the semi-final against Crossmaglen.

“We just worked hard, and that’s what we have been trying to do as a unit, sticking together as a team, and we did that today, and thankfully we came out the right side of it.

“But Dromore responded very well, and we had to push on to get back in front.

“We knew it was going to be a tough game, the whole Derry-Tyrone factor, and Dromore still on a high with winning the championship just last week. Paul McIver had them really fit and hungry for the game, and we’re just happy to be through to the next round.”

After conceding the goal, Dromore recovered their composure, and set about establishing a foothold around the midfield area.

Eoin McCusker and Niall Sludden fired over points, but the Derry men responded with scores from Aaron Devlin and Conleith Gilligan.

Dromore who hit the next four points and could have had a goal as well, when Sludden sent Ronan McNabb clear but he had his shot blocked down.

Midfielder Paddy Montague thumped over a couple of frees, and added a superb long-range effort from play to give the St Dympna’s the lead.

But Ballinderry boss Martin McKinless moved Enda Muldoon to midfield, and he played a major part in turning the tide.

He fetched and distributed immaculately and fired over a wonderful point from play, also playing a part in points from Gilligan and Raymond Wilkinson which sent the Shamrocks in with a 1-6 to 0-7 interval lead.

Muldoon and Gilligan were at it again early in the second half with the latter’s finishing proving the difference in the end.

Eoin McCusker almost single-handedly led Dromore’s revival, firing over his seventh point but he lacked real support.

Both sides finished with 14 men, Ballidnerry’s Martin Harney picking up a second yellow and Dromore substitute Adrian McCaffrey sent off on a straight red card.

Scorers for Ballinderry: C Gilligan 0-6 (3fs), M McIver 1-0, A Devlin 0-2, R Scott, R Wilkinson, E Muldoon 0-1 each.

Scorers for Dromore: E McCusker 0-7 (4fs), P Montague 0-4 (2fs), N Sludden 0-1.

BALLINDERRY: M Conlon, D Bell, K McGuckin, C Wilkinson, M McIver, D Conway, R Scott, K ‘Moss’ McGuckin, M Harney, A Devlin, C Nevin, R Wilkinson, C Gilligan, E Muldoon, R Bell.

Subs: C Devlin for Bell, M Bell for Nevin

DROMORE: P Ward, F O’Neill, C McCarron, R McMenamin, C O’Hara, S O’Neill, K Donnelly, H McNulty, P Montague, R McNabb, E McCusker, N Sludden, S McDonnell, E O’Neill, C McCullagh.

Subs: C O’Neill for Donnelly, F Quinn for F O’Neill, S McNabb for E O’Neill, A McCaffrey for Montague.

Referee: M Higgins (Fermanagh).

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