STEELSTOWN manager, Hugh McGrath, claimed his side would learn from their first experience of senior Championship football but admitted he was disappointed at what he called the ‘cynicism’ in modern club football.
Michael Wilson reports
Brian Ogs looked on course for what would have been a first ever Senior Championship win when they led Banagher 2-11 to 2-6 midway through the second half of Sunday’s encounter after a superb eight points turn-around from half-time. However Banagher’s ability to target key runners in the Steelstown system, such as Neil Forrester and blocked his runs, thwarted the city side’s attack.
A number of decisions by referee Cyril Hargan appeared to upset the Steelstown bench but despite his annoyance at the Banagher tactics, McGrath said it was something his players would have to get used to.
“It is cynicism and it is part of our game now whether we like it or not, that’s just the way it is,” reflected McGrath. “I think Neil Forrester had a guy hanging off him for the entire 60 minutes but Neil has to learn to cope with that because if you give him an inch he will destroy you. Banagher played that out very well and maybe a different man in the middle might have seen it differently, I don’t know.
“I am not a big one for criticising officials because I think the job they do is excellent and without them we can’t have our games, but some of the calls today were absolutely shocking. I cannot fathom some of the things that go on in our games here in County Derry. People say the same things go on in every other county, but I spent the first 25 years of my life in County Down and it didn’t happen to that level there but, look, you come to learn.
“You have to cope with those things and maybe the bigger and stronger we get as a club and as a team, maybe those things will go our way in future.”
Despite the setback McGrath said the experience of competing at senior Championship level would be crucial for his players’ development.
“In terms of a learning curve, a game like that will bring a team like ours on massively. You see the intensity of Championship is one hundred times more than any league game and you see what it means to people. The crowd was a fairly decent one and the noise they created was decent as well so more days like that will help our guys.
“Maybe we are too young and inexperience to be cynical enough but we will learn the lessons from it. Maybe if we had of stopped the ball coming out of the Banagher defence a few more times second half we wouldn’t have conceded four goals which is absolutely criminal at any level, it can’t be done. Four goals comes from not being cynical up top, allowing them to come out into too much space and then you can’t get yourself organised as a defensive unit.
“We will look at it, take a couple of weeks off, come back and get into our strength and conditioning programmes and be ready to give it another go next year,” he added.