STEELSTOWN manager Hugh McGrath has said the door remains open for former boss Paddy Campbell to return to the Ballyarnett club as he set his long-term sights on securing senior football for the City side.
MICHAEL WILSON reports
McGrath was speaking after guiding Brian Ogs to a hard-fought four-point opening day victory over Faughanvale but he was quick to pay tribute to the work done by Campbell and his back-room team over the past couple of seasons.
“I think we were missing six from the side that started last season’s Championship final and Paddy leaves a big hole at full-back but Tony Ling filled it very well,” explained the Co. Down man.
“What people saw there was not my work over the last couple of weeks but the work of Paddy, Seamus and Enda and all those guys who have built this team for the last few seasons and instilled the confidence.
“Three or four years ago Steelstown may not have won that game because it was in the mix for long periods but there’s a belief now that we can push on and get senior football for the city which is ultimately the long-term plan. That’s what we are after.”
McGrath said Campbell’s departure had shook the city club but said everyone at Brian Ogs understood why the former Donegal star had to step down due to family commitments.
“Everyone understood the reasons for Paddy’s decision. He is a very intense guy and unless he can give it absolutely everything, he wouldn’t feel comfortable doing the job. He explained his decision, the guys accepted it and thanked him for what he did but the door’s always open to him.
“Gary Cunningham is another who has had to step away but every club has to deal with it. We are lucky that we haven’t had to deal with too much emigration, other clubs have been hit hard with that. We will miss Paddy and Gary but we have to deal with it and move on.”
Steelstown secured Sunday’s victory courtesy of a much improved second half display after fading toward the end of an opening 30 minutes in which former Banagher player Eugene O’Kane ran riot for the visitors.
“We worked hard to try and get off to a good start and build momentum. We got the good start we wanted but we seemed to take the foot off the gas. I don’t know if they boys maybe thought the game was going to be easier than they imagined but there was a definite let up in the pressure and Faughanvale are a good side and took full advantage.
“There were a few harsh words at half-time that the players took on board and put into practice second half so credit to them. It was an excellent start.”