Eoghan Rua will have to do what no other club has done since the County final of 2010 and that is beat Ballinderry in the senior football championship.
The last time Ballinderry were beaten in the championship was by the Coleraine men in the final of 2010.
Since then the Shamrocks have gone on to win the 2011, 2012 and 2013 titles and are the current Ulster champions. They are still on course for a ‘four in a row’ with this Thursday evening’s semi-final in Owenbeg (8.00pm throw-in) against Eoghan Rua the next hurdle in their title defence. Of course these sides have already met in an earlier round of the championship with Ballinderry winning 1-6 to 0-6 in a dour affair, Eoghan Rua availing of the second chance through the ‘back door’ route to progress to the semi-final.
A powerful first half performance provided the platform for Eoghan Rua’s passage to the semi-finals as they ran out comfortable winners over a disappointing Magherafelt side, 1-15 to 0-11 the final score. Playing with much more adventure than their previous championship outings Eoghan Rua built a winning lead of nine points in the first half, 1-10 to 0-4 at the break. Their goal midway through the first half proved to be a real turning point.
Meanwhile Ballinderry were just a minute away from losing their title at the quarter-final stage as Lavey led by a point but a brilliant Conleth Gilligan equaliser in the 59th minute followed by an injury time winner from Ryan Bell showed just why this Shamrocks side is so difficult to get the better of in championship football – they just know how to win, whatever it takes.
There is no doubt that Ballinderry will once again go into this semi-final as favourites, they have already beaten Eoghan Rua and showed great fighting qualities to come from behind and beat Lavey in the quarter-finals.
Eoghan Rua will have to be right at the top of their game to hold the likes of Conleith Gilligan, Enda Muldoon, Ryan Bell and Dermot McGuckin for the entire hour. As always in these games goals will be at a premium and the team that scores one or two is most likely to make it through to the final. Eoghan Rua have shown they know the way to goal and in Colm McGoldrick they have a deadly finisher, but Ballinderry will be well aware of that threat, they successfully nullified the Coleraine men in that department last time. Eoghan Rua will be hoping to create opportunities for a ‘three pointer’ along the way while keeping it very tight at the back. It is likely to be close again but the reigning county champions will go in as favourites for the simple reason that they are so difficult to beat and they know how to grind out wins.