Five star Steelstown into Ulster final after superb display against Butlersbridge
Ulster Intermediate Club Championship semi-final
Steelstown Brian Ogs 5-13, Butlersbridge 0-10
Steelstown will meet Tyrone champions Moortown in the 2021 Ulster Intermediate Club Championship final after another exhibition of high scoring football in an emphatic defeat of Cavan champions Butlersbridge in Ederney on Saturday.
Across three Ulster Championship ties against Cloughaneely, Donaghymoyne and Butlersbridge, Steelstown have hit an amazing 9-39 and appear to be improving with every game on the provincial stage. Then Tyrone champions secure their spot in the final which will take place thanks to a narrow 0-9 to 0-8 victory over Tir na nOg in the second semi-final to set up a mouth watering clash on Sunday, January 9th when the Brian Ogs will become the first club from Derry city to appear in a provincial football decider.
Putn simply, Hugh McGrath's men were simply sensational as a tight opening half gave way to to their trademark fast, fluent, hard running game with Butlersbridge could do nothing to contain. Turning around six points up at 2-08 to 0-08, Steelstown, even with Ryan Devine in the 'sin bin' moved through the gears effortlessly to ensure the contest was over long before referee Padraig Hughes' final whistle. Indeed, even with Devine absent on the black card, the Derry men outscored their Cavan opponents by 1-02 to no score before pulling away in some style.
Five goal and they could have ad at least four more as Ben McCarron grabbed a brace to go with some brilliant strikes from Neil Forester, Mark Foley and Eoghan Bradley. McCarron, who finished with 2-03, was unplayable at times but the same could have been said for most of Steelstown's attacking unit. Bradley and McMonagle were superb in the opening half, Foley his usual steadying influence and all being back up by runners from deep that pulled Butlersbridge one way then the other.
Indeed the only real problem Hugh McGrath has at the moment with this Steelstown panel is that he can't picked 25 players because some of the names on the bench would grace most senior sides in Derry!
Ironically, it was Butlersbridge who started stronger, hitting two early scores from Fionntan O'Reilly and key player Caoimhinn O'Reilly when possibly the latter could have gone for goal. The Cavan men thought they had thrown down a gauntlet but as the half wore on it became apparent they had merely 'poked the bear' as Steelstown rose the challenge.
And the longer the game wore on, it became evident the Cavan side would not be able to maintain the fast pace they started at and as soon as the game settled, Steelstown took charge, with Kevin Lindsay, Oran Fox and Eoghan Concannon snuffing out the threat of the two O'Reillys as Butlersbridge managed only two points in the second half.
It was all a far cry from opening 10 minutes when Butlersbridge engineered a 0-5 to 0-3 lead but even then, Steelstown had already passed up goal chances as Fox shot straight at Michael Sheridan as did Ben McCarron.
McCarron's 11th minute goal changed the complexion of the game and owed everything to McMonagle who's brilliant run down the left forced Sheridan into his third good save of the game but this time his stop wasn't enough as McCarron was on hand to gather the rebound and bury the ball into the back the net for a one point lead.
It was still tight at 1-08 to 0-7 when Deveiner received his black card for stopping a break though it looked as much of a slip as a deliberate trip but rather than inspire Butlersbridge, the decision seem to galvanise the city men who finished the half strongly with the critical second goal.
And always the man on hand when they need him, it was Neil Forester who both started and finished the move swapping passes with Oran McMenamin and Bradley during a superb break to took him clear from where he provided the perfect finish for a half-time lead of 2-08 to 0-08.
Even six points behind, Butlersbridge had offered enough in the opening half to suggest there was still a game to be played but 1-03 from Steelstown in the opening 10 minutes changed that. A McCarron free was followed by a lovely Foley score and a nice Donncha Gilmore solo effort before Foley then applied the easiest of finishes to an exquisite move involving Diarmuid Baker and McMonagle.
With the game all but over as a contest, Steelstown scored at will and added further goals from Bradley who picked out the top corner with a finish his performance fully deserved. McCarron capped a brilliant display with his side's fifth following a break in which any one of four men could have finished.
The scenes at the final whistle showed what victory meant to a club that had to wait 34 years for a championship victory but the display reminded us they are far from finished just yet. Roll on January 9th!
Steelstown scorers: Neil Forester (1-0), Eoghan Bradley (1-0), Cahir McMonagle (0-4, 3f), Mark Foley (1-3), Ben McCarron (2-3, 2f), Ryan Devine (0-2, 1f), Donncha Gilmore (0-1)
Butlersbridge scorers: Fionntan O'Reilly (0-2), Caoimhinn O'Reilly (0-5, 2f), Peter Conaty (0-1), Killian Leddy (0-2),
Steelstown Brian Ogs: Eoghan Heraghty, Oran Fox, Kevin Lindsay, Diarmuid Baker, Donncha Gilmore, Jason McAleer, Eoghan Concannon, Oran McMenamin, Ryan Devine, Shane O'Connor, Neil Forester, Ben McCarron, Mark Foley, Cahir McMonagle, Eoghan Bradley. (Subs) Gareth Logue for O McMenamin, 52mins; Morgan Murray for E Bradley, 54mins; Mickey McKinney for M Foley, 57mins; Emmett Deane for S O'Connor, 57mins; Ryan McCloskey for E Concannon, 59mins;
Black Cards: R Devine, 29mins;
Butlersbridge: Michael Sheridan, Ciaran Greenan, Cathal Leddy, Shane Leddy, Andrew McConnell, Patrick Flynn, Fergal Flanagan, Peter Conaty, Ciaran O'Reilly, Kevin McPhillips, Fionntan O'Reilly, Killian Leddy, John Fitzpatrick, Caoimhinn O'Reilly, Patrick McPhillips. (Subs) Finbar Conaty for K McPhillips, 37mins; Liam McEntee for K Leddy, 45mins; Shane O'Rourke for P Conaty, 45mins; Declan Callaghan for Ciaran Greenan, 58mins; Martin Fitzpatrick for C O'Reilly, 58mins;
Yellow cards: F O'Reilly, 43mins;
Black Card: K McPhillips, 50mins;
Referee: Padraig Hughes (Armagh)