It’s Two-Points from Amsterdam
JUST DONE it!
Adidas employee Stephen Cleary may not appreciate the reference but he’ll understand the sentiment.
Michael Wilson was in Pairc Bhrid
Photographs: Stephen Latimer
Steelstown Brian Ogs finally arrived on the county’s senior platform with two points that were as richly deserved as they were historic. The victory owed no small matter to Adidas’ Digital Marketing intern whose return from Amsterdam yielded eight of Brian Ogs’ nine points, but this was far from a one-man show.
Cleary pulled the trigger on a poor Glen side badly missing Emmett Bradley but the full forward’s ammunition was being loaded by numerous team-mates only too happy to put their shoulder to the wheel in pursuit of a win almost 30-years in the making.
Defeats to Kilrea and Craigbane belied positive displays and suggested a team not far from finding its feet. Sunday’s victory proved the city side can win games at this level and the challenge now will be to keep those same feet on the ground as they seek to remain in the top flight. There are stiffer tests to come of course, like a trip to Ballinderry next week, but this was the starting point they were craving.
And just as he did when his late goal shot Steelstown to senior football against Newbridge last season, Cleary grabbed centre stage once again. Already with three points to his credit before the break, the full forward dropped deeper alongside substitute Gary Cunningham to dictate play in the second period but still managed to account for every one of his team’s five second half points. However, he wasn’t alone.
The fact Glen only managed two points in the opening half and had already amassed four wides in the opening three minutes tells its own tale but credit must go to the Brian Ogs backline. The half-back line in particular was impressive, Paul O’Hea and Mickey McKinney superb alongside the marauding Neil Forrester who was a genuine challenger to Cleary for the ‘Man of the Match’ accolade.
Glen simply couldn’t handled the short passing, fast running breaks out from the back and had Steelstown themselves used the wind to better effect when they went looking for the returning Daniel Jackson after the break, this could have been much worse for the visitors.
Even when they did manage to muster some pressure, at no point did it look like they would get the better of a Tony Ling, Chris Beales and Kevin Lindsay inspired full-back line who were protected superbly by their aforementioned half-back colleagues and the excellent Liam Heffernan.
Glen persevered but the entire second half felt like a stay of execution for them because at 0-4 to 0-2 up when they turned around, Steelstown already had the game won. They only had to see it through and to put Glen’s eight first half wides entirely down to the swirling wind would be being kind to the wayward shooting of the Watty Graham’s men.
But this was about the city side. Critics will say there is an over reliance on their talismanic forward but this victory was achieved without both Aidan Cleary and Brian Scallan, who had given Craigbane a torrid time for periods last weekend. There is strength in depth available to Hugh McGrath. His mission is to ensure that those players continue to believe and days like Sunday will help no end in that respect as he admitted afterwards.
“That win has been a while coming,” explained McGrath, “I thought in the first two games we did very positive things and played quite well. If anything, I thought our performance against Glen was below our first two games but it is about getting a start, getting the first two points on the board and hopefully that’s the first two of quite a few to keep us in this division.”
Despite the historic victory the County Down native wasn’t getting carried away.
“The first two points are always the hardest. It is just about getting across that line and that should give us a decent amount of belief. Now next week away to Ballinderry we could come down to earth with a bump but we take each game as it comes. We didn’t get too disheartened or despondent by our first two defeats. We know what our targets are, we know what we have to do to reach them and there remains a long road ahead.”
The road may be longer again for Glen though if they continue to perform as they did on Sunday. With the strong wind at their backs, they had 20 minutes between Ciaran McFaul’s opening score in the fifth minute and Paul McLaughlin’s fisted effort. It was a paltry showing for the opening 30 minutes and proved terminal to any hopes of a first win of the season. They did improve after the break with young sub Ryan Winton making a notable impression and helping himself to their final two scores but the game was always going away from them.
Once Steelstown got into a rhythm there only looked one winner, regardless of whether they had the wind at their backs or not. A great run by Heffernan and pass from Ryan Devine set Cleary up to open his account on 12 minutes. Darren McDaid then won a free for Cleary to score before the midfielder fired over a brilliant effort himself to ensure his No. 10 didn’t have things all his own way on the scoreboard as the city side built that 0-4 to 0-2 interval lead.
After the break it was only a case of whether Steelstown would ‘fluff their lines’. They didn’t and even though it took them 13 minutes before you know who found his range again, they were always comfortable. Their sixth point of the day was a joy to behold. Starting with an excellent tackle by Liam Heffernan yards from his own posts, the ball was moved down the left side through the hands of keeper Marty Dunne, Lindsay, O’Hea, Forrester and Cunningham before Cleary slotted over for 0-6 to 0-2.
There was still 15 minutes left but with Forrester, McKinney, O’Hea and the returning Michael Moore flying out from the back, there was more than ample possession for Cleary to put Glen to the sword and record a victory which will be remembered for a long time in Pairc Bhrid.
Steelstown Brian Ogs: Marty Dunne; Chris Beales, Kevin Lindsay, Tony Ling; Neil Forrester, Paul O’Hea, Mickey McKinney; Darren McDaid, Stephen McCauley; Liam Heffernan, Michael Moore, Mark Brennan; Stephen Cleary (0-8, 4f), Daniel Jackson, Ryan Devine. (Subs) Gary Cunningham for R Devine, 37mins; Niall Murray for D Jackson, 50mins; Conan Doherty for L Heffernan, 60mins.
Watty Graham’s, Glen: Gerard McKenna; Conor Carvill, Philip O’Connell, Declan Brolly; Odhran Bradley, Kevin Bryson, Brendan O’Kane; Johnnie Bradley, John McCamley; Connlan Bradley, Sean Gribben, Sean McGrogan; Paul McLaughlin (0-1), Donal Leahy, Ciaran McFaul. (Subs) Ryan Winton (0-2, 1f) for J Bradley, 45mins; Ryan Dougan for P McLaughlin, 50mins; Tommy McCloy for S Gribben.
Referee: Cyril Hargan
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Weather for Derry
Thursday 23 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 9 C
Wind Speed: 28 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 4 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: North