DERRY IFC: Steelstown meet old foes Foreglen in Championship semi-final
Small & Hyland Intermediate Football Championship Semi-Final (Owenbeg, Sunday, 2pm)
This is a hard one to call. Foreglen were the championship favourites early on but despite reaching the last four they have not been at their best.
They edged past Craigbane by a point in the quarter-final without playing as well as they might. Their key performers are Oisin Duffy at centre-half, Mark and Gavin McCormick at midfield and Kevin O’Connor at full forward.
Steelstown lost their first three league games and were not going particularly well until they had change of manager with recently retired player Paul O’Hea taking over. Since then, the city side have not lost a game but they were held to a draw by Ballymaguigan. Subsequent wins over Doire Trasna and Faughanvale have taken them to the penultimate stage.
Foreglen have a good record against the Brian Ogs who have a lot of pace in a much changed team over the past two years with retirements and emigration biting into their resources. Mark Foley is an excellent free taker and attack leader Mickey McKinney is in top form. They are strong enough in other areas but Foreglen are a good championship team and may raise their game enough to get to the final.
Steelstown are a very athletic, free running side and like Foreglen they have players who have sampled first division and senior championship football. Their best display of the season was their 1-12 to 0-10 quarter final win over Faughanvale at Celtic Park.
They have a lot of pace on the flanks with county player Neil Forester linking up with the attack from his half-back position. His pace will cause Foreglen a lot of concern and he is likely to come in for some special attention as he instiagtes many of the Brian Ogs attacks. Liam Heffernan is a solid centre half and Martin Dunne one of the best keepers in the county.
County minor players Eoghan Bradley and Eoghan Concannon have given them an extra dimension with Bradley looking very impressive in the quarter-final. Andy Moore is another who has improved as the season has progressed and he could be given the task of trying to keep O’Connor quiet which is a big ask.
Foreglen have kept up to a high level despite losing a clutch of players to emigration and, sadly, the recent death of their goalkeeper, Gary McGee.
They seem to have unearthed a good keeper in Niall McConway who is generally a reserve outfield player. McConway was a surprise selection for the last eight clash but he was superb in the victory over Craigbane last Saturday.
The game looks finely balanced and when things are tight Foreglen turn to their high scoring forward, Kevin O’Connor, who was the man who edged them through in a tight quarter final encounter with Craigbane.
Overall there does not look to be much between the teams. Foreglen are always a strong force in the championship but Steelstown are going well at present. Both teams have experience and both have match winners within their teams but how Steelstown handle O’Connor could be pivotal.