DIV TWO: Steelstown defeat Trasna in city derby but questions for both!
H&A Mechanical Services Division Two
Steelstown Brian Ogs 0-16, Doire Trasna 1-09
Steelstown have keeper Martin Dunne to thank after recording their third successive Division Two victory of the season in Sunday’s city derby against Doire Trasna at Pairc Bhrid.
The Brian Ogs always looked in control against bottom of the table Trasna after an impressive second quarter saw them establish a 0-9 to 0-3 interval lead. The visitors had done little to suggest they could trouble that lead with another out of sorts opening half, but an improved second half from the Pearses changed the complexion of the game.
Going into the last 10 minutes, Steelstown still held a 0-14 to 0-06 lead but Darren Harkin’s 51st minute goal set the alarm bells ringing in the home defence. Inside 60 seconds they had conceded a penalty when Dee Starret was dragged to the floor by Paul Ferris who was surprisingly shown yellow rather than black.
Up stepped Starret to fire his fiercely hit spot kick toward the bottom corner but Dunne produced a superb diving save, low to his right, to push the ball to safety and with it halt the Trasna fightback.
Anything other than two points would have been harsh on Steelstown who deserved the win. The home side would have been out of sight had they accepted a number of goal chances of their own because although Dunne’s brilliant save was the game’s most crucial, it was not the game’s best. That accolade fell to Trasna’s young keeper Shea Cross.
Only seconds into the second half and with his side still five points adrift, Cross produced a breathtaking one handed reaction save from Gareth Logue who looked certain to hit the net and end the game as a contest.
It kept his side in the game and Cross was at it again five minutes later, denying Logue once more with a point blank stop after Eamon Donnelly’s ‘45’ had struck the upright and fell kindly for the Steelstown forward.
However, his heroics ultimately proved in vain for Trasna who are now in danger of becoming isolated at the foot of table and in desperate need of points to avoid a return to junior football.
The frustration is they have good enough footballers to be competing at the opposite end of the table but too often they are the architects of their own demise. They outscored Steelstown 1-6 to 0-05 in the second half on Sunday but it took them 30 minutes to get going and you cannot afford that luxury.
The Waterside men felt a number of key decisions went against them. Cathal McShane’s early black card for what looked like a trip was probably correct but there were one or two other decisions, notably Emmett Deane’s upending of Conor Houston in the 25th minute that looked harsh.
Referee Richie O’Donoghue interpreted it as an accidental clash of legs but it fed into the Trasna paranoia and when that happens to a team they tend to lose focus.
Steelstown seem to have recovered from their poor start but this display still leaves questions. There is no danger they will be relegated (there never was) but they still have the look of a team in transition and need to improve to make an impact in the Intermediate Championship which has to be their aim.
Forwards Mark Foley and Ryan Devine scored 0-10, five from frees, between them but Steelstown don’t convinced as an attacking unit. They always seem to be going forward with more than one eye on the back door, perhaps knowing the limitations of a panel that has lost some big players over recent seasons.
They fully deserved this victory and will steadily climb the Division Two table now but this was far from convincing. Andy Moore caught the eye while Neil Forester was as reliable as ever but when the question were asked they needed Dunne’s brilliance to stop a situation developing that they should never have found themselves in.
The two clubs finish the game with differing agendas. If a tilt at the Intermediate Championship is to be a realistic target for Steelstown they will need a big improvement and a definitive game-plan because there were times on Sunday when they were caught between the two stools of sitting deep or seizing the initiative.
For Trasna it’s simple. They need a win. They should have had it against Castledawson recently and have shown in periods against both Faughanavle and Steelstown, that it is not a lack of talent that has left them without a win in eight games. A couple of good results could change things dramatically but time is not on their side.
Steelstown: Martin Dunne: Emmett McDaid, Liam Heffernan, Brian Connelly; Ryan McCloskey, Shane O’Connor, Neil Forester (0-1); Darren McDaid (0-2), Emmett Deane; Andy Moore (0-1), Oran Sweeney (0-2), Cahir O’Connor; Mark Foley (0-5, 4f), Ryan Devine (0-5, 1f), Gareth Logue. (Subs) Eamon Donnelly for C O’Connor, 33mins; James Jackson for R Devine, 44mins;
Doire Trasna: Shea Cross; Cathal McKane, Conor Houston, Eoghan Carlin; Conal Guile; Tomas McCrossan, Stephen O’Donnell; Micheal McNaught (0-3, 2f), Connolly Deeney; Sean McNaught, Ciaran McGowan, Colin Murray (0-1, 1f); Damien Starret (0-4, 4f), Darren Harkin (1-0), Cormac Carlin (0-1). (Subs) Daryl Mallet for C McShane (Black Card) 23mins; Michael Kelly for C Deeney (inj), 23mins; Mark Magee for C Guile, 59mins.
Referee: Richard O’Donoghue (Slaughtneil).