His comments come after a second-half collapse against 14-man Kingdom Kerry Gaels in Ruislip.
The Ulster champions were in control by the midway point of the second period, leading by 11 and playing with an extra man and the wind advantage.
But the Shamrocks looked shell-shocked as their gutsy hosts hit 2-3 in a frantic 11-minute period to leave a goal between the sides.
Ballinderry managed to hold on, hitting two late points to secure victory, but McKinless admits they have a lot of work to do ahead of their All-Ireland semi-final with St Vincent’s in February.
“We thought we were in cruise control at half-time,” he said. “We lost possession, carried the ball into the tackle instead of spreading it. We didn’t create the space we normally do but conditions out there were very poor.
“We’re delighted to be in the position we’re in. Today was just about getting over the line. We knew coming here that the facilities were poor. We were taken out of our comfort zone.”
Kingdom Kerry Gaels were a shambles in that opening period, with London forward Lloyd Colfer fluffing three close-range frees, and that profligacy was punished in the ninth minute when Conor Devlin netted his first of two goals. Ballinderry racked up seven first-half wides but were 1-5 to 0-1 clear at the break.
The hosts were reduced to 14 men on 25 minutes when full-back Peadar Stack received a second yellow card, and the match looked over as a contest when Devlin teed up Daniel McKinless for a fisted goal early in the second half.
McKinless returned the favour on 42 minutes for Devlin to finish, but the London side’s response was immediate, Stephen Browne firing home from close range.
The Kingdom hit three points in as many minutes to cut the gap to six, and it was a one-score game when Kyle Holland slotted a 54th-minute penalty after Ciarán McCallion was dragged down inside the area by Conor Nevin.
Nevin redeemed himself two minutes later by kicking an insurance point, but Gaels manager Noel Dunning hopes his side’s second-half performance will put a stop to criticism regarding the participation of London clubs in the series.
“What’s cost based on the development of the game?” asked the former London manager. “It’s not the same team that comes over every year.
“We get it going the other way and are able to work within that budget. That’s the way is. People know at the start of the year that if they win their provincial title, you’re likely facing a trip to London. If they decide not to plan for that, that’s their problem.”
Scorers for Ballinderry: C Devlin 2-1 (1f), D McKinless 1-1, R Bell, C Gilligan (1f) 0-2 each, D McGuckin, C Nevin, F Ball 0-1 each.
Scorers for Kingdom Kerry Gaels: K Holland (1-0pen), S Browne 1-1 each, T O’Sullivan 0-2 (2f), L Colfer (f), A Dillane, C McCallion 0-1 each.
BALLINDERRY: M Conlan; R Scott, C Nevin, M McInver; R Wilson, G McKinless, D Lawn; Kevin McGuckin, J Conway; D McKinless, Kevin ‘Moss’ McGuckin, D McGuckin; C Devlin, R Bell, C Gilligan.
Subs: C Wilkinson for Scott (17), D Conway for Wilson (ht), P Crozier for Lawn (36), F Bell for Gilligan (45), A Devlin for Kevin ‘Moss’ McGuckin (57).
KINGDOM KERRY GAELS: S Howard; P Kelly, P Stack, C O’Neill; C Carty, P Horkan, D McGreevy; A Daly, S Browne; A Dillane, K Holland, C McCallion; N O’Connell, L Colfer, C Deely.
Subs: K Waldron for Daly (25), C Hands for O’Connell (ht), T O’Sullivan for Colfer (38), A Kenny for Holland (59), C Griffin for Dillane (60).
Referee: C Lane (Cork).