DERRY GAA: Steelstown serve Championship notice against Faughanvale

Faughanvale's Michael McLaughlin comes away with possession as he's closed down by Steelstown's Ryan Devine and Mickey McKinney during Friday night's quarter-final at Celtic Park. DER3616MC007
Faughanvale's Michael McLaughlin comes away with possession as he's closed down by Steelstown's Ryan Devine and Mickey McKinney during Friday night's quarter-final at Celtic Park. DER3616MC007

Steelstown Brian Ogs 1-12, Faughanvale 0-10

Steelstown could be hitting form at exactly the right time to have a huge say in this season’s Small & Hyland Derry Intermediate Football Championship.

This victory was a big statement. It came courtesy of Emmett McBride’s 37th minute goal which owed more than a little to fortune but there was nothing lucky abut this Brian Ogs performance.

Faughanvale have become formidable Intermediate opposition after promotion last year and had settled into the game after a nervous opening quarter. If anything, Joe Gray’s team were in the ascendency when McBride struck, having fought back from 0-6 to 0-2 down to close the gap to a single point at 0-7 to 0-6.

Then Neil Forester was fouled on one of his trademark breaks forward. Mickey McKinney steps up and sends the free over the bar. Or so everyone thought, including the ‘Vale back line and their hesitation was costly. McKinney’s free struck the inside of the post but dropped perfectly for the only alert man in Celtic Park. If that part of the goal was good fortune, McBride’s finish was not. The forward kept his cool to slot a lovely finish past Daryl Moore. It was the winning of a game which at that point was in the balance.

Whatever Paul O’Hea and Eamonn Gibson have done since taking over at Ballyarnett, the turnaround has been remarkable. A team who was fancied to push for promotion back to senior football laboured through the early part of the season with seemingly little belief in what they were doing.

Steelstown's Oran Sweeney fires over a point early in the game against Faughanvale at Celtic Park on Friday night. DER3616MC010

Steelstown's Oran Sweeney fires over a point early in the game against Faughanvale at Celtic Park on Friday night. DER3616MC010

That’s gone and the city side once again look like a side who could be playing senior football again in the next couple of years.

Faughanvale are not far off that tag either but the Greysteel men were caught out by the intensity of the Steelstown start which built a 0-5 to 0-1 lead inside 13 minutes.

O’Hea deployed a three man forward line which stopped ‘Vale working their kick-outs short and Steelstown dominated, Oran Sweeney breaking a surprisingly amount of ball for the likes of Forester, McKinney and Gareth Logue to build attacks from.

All the while Andy Moore was playing like a man possessed at the back. The former Derry minor was superb and when they needed it at the other end of the field, another county minor, Eoghan Bradley, weighed in with four crucial points from play.

Bradley, Logue, Emmett Deane, McKinney (free) and Oran Sweeney put Steelstown in early control with Jordan Curran’s excellent solo run and fisted point the only ‘Vale response.

Eventually though St Mary’s settled and by half-time they had brought the game back to 0-7 to 0-5. They could have been closer as well.

Conor McGuinness found himself through on the Steelstown goal but, coming in from the right wing, could only shoot straight at Marty Dunne who pushed it away for a ‘45’

The second half looked like being a different matter. ‘Vale sorted themselves out early, retreating inside their own ‘45’ and breaking out at pace into the empty spaces when they turned over possession.

It was working. Steelstown were becoming frustrated and just before Kevin Martin brought it back to a single point game, a flowing move sent Paddy O’kane away on goal. With men over and Moore back peddling to cover two men, the forward had options and he selected to shoot for goal but Moore produced a superb diving block. It was as crucial as McBride’s goal.

That arrived less than three minutes later and was a real body blow to Faughanvale. By contrast it was just the shot in the arm Steelstown needed and from there they always looked like they had enough to win it.

The closest ‘Vale got to them was three points though considering the amount of time taken to treat the unfortunate Paddy O’Kane who was carried off late in the game, St Mary’s would be right to question the three minutes injury time which seemed insufficient.

It was fitting that Eoghan Bradley scored the game’s final point with a brilliant shot after an almost complete 360 degree turn. A bit like the Brian Ogs’ season at present.

Steelstown Brian Ogs: Martin Dunne; Ryan McCloskey, Shane O’Connor, Andy Moore; Neil Forester, Liam Heffernan, Oran Sweeney (0-1); Darren McDaid, Ryan Devine; Emmett Deane (0-1), Michael McKinney (0-3, 3f), Gareth Logue (0-1); Emmett McBride (1-0), Paul Ferris (0-1), Eoghan Bradley (0-4). (Subs) Eoghan Concannon for G Logue, 39mins; Brian Devine for E Deane; Stephen McCauley for R Devine, 48mins; Mark Foley for E McBride, 56mins;

Faughanvale: Daryl Moore; Conor McGuinness, Michael Sweeney, Gordon Fahey; Jordan Curran (0-1), Joe Gray (0-4, 2f, 1 forty-five), Steven King; Ryan King, Aaron Cassidy; Brian Watson, Eoin McElhinney (0-1), Simon Green; Kevin Martin (0-3, 1f), Michael McLaughlin, Paddy O’Kane (0-1). (Subs) Conor O’Hara for S Green 15mins; James Moore for K Martin, 48mins; Sean Cassidy for R King, 49mins; Sean Bradley for P O’Kane (inj) 56mins;

Referee: Gregory Williamson