McCarron shoots Steelstown past Castledawson and into Limavady semi-final

McFeely Group Derry Intermediate Football Championship Quarter-Final

Monday, 18th October 2021, 11:30 am
Ben McCarron was in superb form as Steelstown defeated Castledawson to make the Intermediate Championship semi-finals where they will play Limavady Wolfhounds. (Photo: George Sweeney)

Steelstown 1-14, Castledawson 1-12.

After a series of one sided games, it was refreshing to see a game of high quality as Steelstown edged out Castledawson at Foreglen on Saturday afternoon to set up a semi-final showdown with Championship surprise package Limavady Wolfhounds.

While the Brian Ogs had more possession they shot too many wides mostly under pressure but the man who did not miss his chances was Derry player, Ben McCarron, who finished with a total of 1-6. His 29th minute goal was superbly finished as he took a return pass from sub Eoghan Bradley and, from a tight angle on the left, gave keeper Aidan McLaughlin no chance.

He was marked by former Derry player, Niall Keenan, who was at the disadvantage of being at University in England and travelling over for games so was lacking in match fitness. Indeed, he was given a difficult hour by 'Man of the Match' McCarron.

When McCarron hit his goal the Brian Ogs were six points clear and cruising. Their lead was reduced to five at half time and then the gap kept closing until Niall McNicholl gave ‘Dawson

the lead in the 37th minute. Castledawson’s direct approach was troubling the city men who wrested back control in the final 10 minutes for a deserved, if somewhat nervy, victory which is their first over St. Malachy's in knock-out football.

At times High McGrath’s men's short passing game allowed Castledawson to funnel men back and cut down space. After three runaway wins in the group stages, Steelstown were probably glad of a stiff test as they attempt to go one better after losing narrowly in the final last year. Castledawson have been their championship nemesis since 2010 and at last they have got past them.

Brian Ogs certainly have the tools to finish the job with a substitutes' bench that would be starters in most teams at this grade. This game will have brought them on loads. Even Ryan

McCloskey could manage a smile from a face resembling an outing with Tyson Fury. He got flattened as he attempted to cut out a Castledawson attack and had to leave the arena in the

34th minute, being replaced by Mickey McKinney.

Steelstown boss Hugh McGrath will be a bit concerned at the manner in which his defence struggled with the through ball and the freedom given to young St. Malachy’s corner forward, Shea McKenna who scored 1-04 from open play.

Castledawson had a poor league and were not overly impressive in the group stages but this was a marked improvement even though they lost. They were at full strength for the first time this season but where they fell down was their inability to match the pace of the winners. The big crowd were treated to some real championship football with brisk tackling, good movements and quality scores.

The winners led 1-9 to 0-7 at half time and will be disappointed with a return of five points in the second half with three of them coming from subs. At the first water break Steelstown led 0-8 to 0-5 and at the second they were 1-11 to 0-11 in front. When McKenna hit the 'Dawson goal in the 46th minute to level the game a shock looked a real possibility!

McCarron and Mark Foley pointed in the first minute before McKenna showed his threat with the St. Malachy’s opener. After seven minutes of all out action the Brian Og’s led by 0-3 to 0-2 but it was the South Derry men who got the next two scores, including a brilliant equaliser from Shea McKenna but McCarron and Foley again left the winners 0-5 to 0-4 up at the first water break.

Until the 24th minute Steelstown were in control as a McCarron free left them 0-9 to 0-5 in front. That brilliant finish by the number 15 looked as if it might kill the game off but Castledawson had no intention of throwing in the towel.

With the sight breeze in their favour after the break, the ‘Dawson hit quick points from Corma Mullan and Niall McNicholl (free). A McCarron free was to be the only Brian Og’s score of the third quarter but they still led by 1-11 to 0-11.

However the city men got a shock when the skilful McKenna cut through their very open defence to crash a great shot past Marty Dunne and suddenly the teams were level. When a McNicholl free put Castledawson in front Hugh McGrath sent for reinforcements. The experienced Mickey McKinney, who had replaced the unfortunate McCloskey, took a pass from fellow sub Eoghan Bradley to equalise.

Then Cahir McMonagle cut in to punch over the lead point and victory was in sight. Castedawson had run out of steam and it was Diarmuid Baker, back on the field after being substituted earlier, who got the last score with a neat fisted effort. Those subs will give Hugh McGrath food for through when picking his team for the semi final.

Steelstown scorers: Ben McCarron (1-6,5f), Mark Foley (0-3) Morgan Murray (0-2), Cahir McMonagle, Mickey McKinney and Diarmuid Baker (0-1) each.

Castledawson scorers: Shea McKenna (1-5,4f), Aidan Keenan (0-2,1f), Niall McNicholl (0-2f), Conor Scullion(0-1f), Ruairi Keenan, Cormac Mullan (0-1each).

Steelstown: Martin Dunne, Oran Fox, Kevin Lindsay, Ryan McCloskey, Diarmuid Baker, Jason McAleer, Eoghan Concannon, Oran McMenamin, Ryan Devine, Donncha Gilmore,

Neil Forrester, Gareth Logue, Mark Foley, Morgan Murray, Ben McCarron. (Subs) Eoghan Bradley for D Baker, 25mins; Ciaran Flanagan for J McAleer, HT; Mickey McKinney for R McCloskey (inj) 34mins; Cahir McMongle for G Logue, 41mins; D Baker for C Flanagan, 53mins.

Castledawson: Aidan McLaughlin, Brian Ludlow, Niall Rafferty, Manus McAllister, Jordan Shivers, Ruairi Keenan, Niall Keenan, Rian Connery, Odhran Mullan, Luke Doyle, Conor

Scullion, Cormac Mullan, Shea McKenna, Aidan Keenan, Niall McNicholl. (Subs) Conor Taggart for L Doyle, HT; Ronan Mullan for M McAllister, 34mins.

Referee: Benny Quinn (Lavey)

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