Steelstown Brian Ogs 0-11, Desertmartin 0-09
The one certainty it did supply, though, is that this performance will not be enough against Greenlough in the semi-final.
The Championship has always been the Brian Ogs’ ultimate goal this year. Promotion was desirable but, as one of four or five real contenders, the players always had their eyes trained on this competition but it will take a huge improvement on what was a disjointed, uninspiring display against a Desertmartin team who passed up a golden chance to cause an upset.
Numerous wides - especially first half - from eminently scorable positions including frees, left the St. Martin’s frustrated and Steelstown off the hook.
This could yet prove a timely warning for Gary Duffy’s city side who still have the potential to lift this trophy even if they have yet to demonstrate the ruthless streak needed to win Championships.
Mark Foley was excellent for the Brian Ogs, helping himself to 0-5, but collectively Steelstown didn’t carry the sort of scoring threat they should. More worryingly was how open a normally tight defensive unit was against a conventional Dersertmartin front three.
Twelve wides over the course of the hour - alongside one very good goal chance - should have considerably raised Desertmartin’s tally but even though they toiled at times, Steelstown always looked the more accomplished side.
An error laden first half began with a mistake on the Steelstown kick-out that allowed Aidy Trainer, Desertmartin’s most impressive performer, to slot over the opening point.
Steelstown were level within two minutes when Foley - operating in a two man front line with Eamon Donnelly - scored a free after being upended by Shane O’Neill.
The city men, who relied on the likes of Gareth Logue, Aidan Cleary, Mickey McKinney and Neil Forester joining the attack from deep, were enjoying plenty of possession and hit the front on five minutes when Paul O’Hea broke forward and sent a lovely pass into Donnelly who produced a lovely score from wide on the right.
That was followed by an excellent Cleary effort for 0-3 to 0-1 as the city men seemed set to grab control of the game but back came Desertmartin through a fantastic Dermot Breen point, though it was quickly cancelled out by Foley.
A McKinney free then made it 0-5 to 0-2 as Desertmartin continued to stack up missed chances. Enda McGuckin did reduce the deficit before McKinney had a fortunate escape when he took down Trainer in what appeared a text book black card offence only for Glenullin referee Dan Mullan to produce a yellow.
The Desertmartin consternation was compounded seconds later when, following another brilliant Foley point, McKinney strode onto a Forester’s pass to increase the Steelstown lead to 0-7 to 0-3.
If McKinney was lucky, team mate Kevin Lindsay was not so fortunate when he tangled with Trainer. The Steelstown man was promptly black carded and replaced by Ciaran Flanagan but Trainer could not take advantage from yet another straight forward free.
Two minutes later and Trainer had beautifully picked out Declan Murray in front of the Steelstown goal but his hesitation allowed a superb Shane O’Connor tackle to deny Desertmartin a goal. Breen did, however, score a late free to leave it 0-7 to 0-4 at the break.
McKinney saw a goal chance scrambled clear on the restart as the sides went tit-for-tat in the scoring stakes, Desertmartin never able to close the gap more than two points but Steelstown unable to create any real daylight for themselves.
Rory Maguire was an impressive Steelstown substitute, scoring one brilliant solo point but also passing up a decent goal chance when his footing gave way.
Donnelly should also have sewn the game up on 56 minutes with his side 0-11 to 0-8 ahead. Sent clear by a Foley hand pass, the forward’s shot was too close to Chris Scullion who produced an excellent stop but it was the type of chance you rarely get away with in Championship football.
Steelstown did this time but it took a couple of almighty scrambles around their posts in the closing minutes before the Brian Ogs support could celebrate their semi-final berth.
Steelstown Brian Ogs: Marty Dunne; Paul O’Hea, Kevin Lindsay, Shane O’Connor; Ryan McCloskey, Liam Heffernan, Neil Forester (0-1); Darren McDaid, Mickey McKinney (0-2, 1f); Oran Sweeney, Sebstian Crudden, Mark Foley (0-5, 2f); Eamonn Donnelly (0-1), Aidan Cleary (0-1), Garedth Logue. (Subs) Ciaran Flanagan for K Lindsay (Black Card), 27mins; Rory Maguire (0-1) for S Crudden, 40mins; Andy Moore for G Logue, 46mins; CJ Martin for L Heffernan, 49mins; James Jackson for A Cleary, 55mins; Emmett Dunne for M Foley, 61mins
Desertmartin: Chris Scullion; Paul Ryan, Conor Monaghan, Shane O’Neill; Paul McGovern, Martin Breen, Cahir Madden; Danny Murray, Patrick McCann, Enda McGuckin (0-2), Aidy Trainer (0-1), Dermot Breen (0-1); Declan Murray (0-2, 1f), Donal Murray (0-1, 1f), Oran Kelly. (Subs) Aidy McGuigan (0-2) for P Ryan, 34mins; Mark Madden for O Kelly, 36mins; Cormac McGuckin for Danny Murray, 43mins. Eamon Burns for Declan Murray, 45mins; Ryan O’Kane for E McGuckin, 55mins; Declan Murray for P McCann, 56mins;
Referee: Daniel Mullan (Glenullin)