STEELSTOWN Brian Ogs safely negotiated a tricky Intermediate Championship opener against Drumsurn thanks to an inspired opening half in difficult conditions at John McLaughlin Park, Faughanvale on Saturday.
Michael Wilson was in Greysteel
Photographs: Glenn McIntyre
Last year’s defeated finalists faced a strong breeze for the opening 30 minutes but despite missing several key men, including captain, Paul O’Hea, they took the game to their opponents with a characteristically close passing game which continually opened up St. Matthew’s.
The scoring plaudits were predictably dominated by Daniel Jackson and Stephen Cleary but it was the performances of full-back Tony Ling and midfielder, Darren McDaid which laid the foundation for victory. Ling in particular did a fantastic job on Drumsurn dangerman Ciaran Mullan who was eventually dropped deep in an effort to get him on the ball. That move probably should have been made earlier but Steelstown were worth the victory and in McDaid they had the stand-out midfielder on show. It was his opportunistic 19th minute goal after Daniel Jackson’s free had bounced over the head of Cahair Mullan which first put daylight between the teams. It was an excellent low finish and left a three point gap at 1-4 to 0-4. Drumsurn never closed the gap.
Crucially, when Ciaran Mullan controversially found the back of the net with 12 minutes remaining to reduce the deficit to two points following what looked a foul on keeper Marty Dunne, it was McDaid who strode out of his own half and shot over the bar from 40m to steady Steelstown nerves.
Drumsurn will look back at the match as an opportunity lost. They lacked pace in key areas and that’s a commodity Brian Ogs have in abundance. After a low-key first 30 minutes with the wind at their backs left them five points adrift, Drumsurn looked finished but produced a much improved second half. Had they showed the same energy in the opening half and been more clinical with their shooting, it would have been a very close call.
As it was, Steelstown always appeared to have an extra gear if needed with Stephen Cleary just doing enough on the second half scoring front to keep the city men out of Drumsurn’s reach.
But it could have been a different story had Martin Dunne not been on his toes within 10 seconds of the throw-in. With Mickey McKinney starting on Ciaran Mullan, Martin Mullan’s long ball saw the Steelstown man completely lose the Drumsurn forward, giving him a free run on goal. However, Dunne was quick off his line to deny Mullan with a great block although Ryan Mullan was able to put the follow-up over the bar for the game’s first score.
Steelstown manager, Hugh McGrath immediately switched Ling on to Mullan and once the City men found their short passing game they dominated the half, Daniel Jackson causing no ends of problems and scoring all five of his points in the opening 30 minutes.
Ryan Mullan and Ciaran Ferris had started well for St. Matthew’s, the former grabbing three points as Drumsurn led 0-4 to 0-2 by the 16th minute. Then came McDaid’s goal which was a personal disaster for the Drumsurn full-back but McDaid still had to have the composure to finish. He had it in abundance and the confidence surged through the city side.
By the time Mickey McKinney ambled forward to score the last point of the half they led 1-07 to 0-05 with Jackson claiming four from play.
Drumsurn came out for the second half in a more determined fashion, Ciaran Ferris reducing the deficit before Dunne once again came to Steelstown’s rescue. A flowing Drumsurn move saw Paul Butcher and Matt Ferris swap passes to put the former in on goal but Dunne produced his second excellent stop to deny Butcher what looked a certain goal.
Two Stephen Cleary scores kept the city side in charge before Ciaran Mullan scored the Drumsurn goal on 48minutes. Martin Mullan’s high ball was spilled by Dunne who appeared to be fouled as he attempted to catch but Ciaran Mullan was not about to look a gift horse in the mouth and slammed the loose ball home.
The next score was vital and step forward McDaid to settle his team and take the sting out of Drumsurn’s charge. Another Cleary free and a super score from Ryan Devine then put the seal on a deserved victory.
Steelstown Brian Ogs: Martin Dunne; Chris Beales, Tony Ling, Michael McKinney (0-1); Kevin Lindsay, Neil Forrester, Patrick Brennan; Darren McDaid (1-1), Stephen McCauley; Mark Brennan, Daniel Jackson (0-5, 1f), Ryan Devine (0-1); Stephen Cleary (0-4, 3f), Aidan Cleary, Conan Doherty. (Subs) James Jackson for P Brennan, 39mins.
Drumsurn: Fancis Shivers; Dane Mullan, Cahair Mullan, Michael Archibald; Christopher Harbinson, Colm Feeney, Paul butcher; Damian Canning, Ronan McNicholl; Ryan Mullan (0-3), Martin Mullan, Ciaran Ferris (0-2); Matthew Ferris (0-1, 1f) Pearse Mcnicholl, Ciaran Mullan (1-1, 1f). (Subs) Michael McGonagle for R McNicholl, 36mins; Eoin Ferris for C Feeney, 58mins; Mark McLaughlin for C Ferris, 62mins.
Referee: Paedar Lagan.