Steelstown blitz Limavady Wolfhounds to record second big Championship win
McFeely Group Derry Intermediate Football Championship, Group C
Limavady 0-09, Steelstown Brian Ogs 3-15
Steelstown's embarrassment of attacking riches were evident as Hugh McGrath's men made it two Intermediate Championship Group C victories from two with an emphatic display against Limavady Wolfhounds on Sunday.
The city club were in charge throughout but only really pulled away in the final quarter thanks to goals from Oran Fox, Donnacha Gilmore and Ben McCarron to make it a combined total of 7-36 from games against Lissan and the 'Wolfhounds - impressive shooting in anyone's books. And it's even more impressive when you consider players like Eoghan Bradley, Mickey McKinney, Cahir McMonagle, Gareth Logue and Rory Maguire have yet to come into contention for a starting berth due to a mixture of injury and unavailability.
On this performance, they'll have their work cut out to claim a shirt after one of the championship 'big guns' flexed their muscles for a second time in ominous fashion. And while the scorers tend to grab the headlines, it the fluidity of the entire Steelstown team that was most impressive.
Forget about the numbers on the back of the blue shirts, a supremely fit squad boasting oceans of pace spends most of the hour plus constantly rotating positions to wear the opposition down mentally as much as physically. You're as likely to find Ben McCarron, who finished with 1-4, back sweeping up a breaking ball or taking it off his full-back as you are to see him pealing off his man inside the opposition '45'. And McCarron isn't alone. All over the pitch players are switching and breaking forward. Their opening goal was a case in point.
When McCarron made a brilliant run down the right and looked up in the 42nd minute, the man bursting forward into the space had number two on his shirt but Oran Fox's cool, first time soccer style finish off the left foot past the advancing Oran Hartin was exactly the finish the move deserved
This Steelstown team has serious legs and strength in depth few other teams will be able to match and they seem to be building up momentum at just the right stage of the season. Better still, the in-game management of the match by the players was first class, ensuring no forward runner ever left gaps in his wake.
Limavady, who were missing Richard King, did well to contain the Brian Ogs for three quarters of the game without ever looking like being able to over power them. Oisin Hassan was was excellent with a work rate that matched anything in blue but, probably conscious of the Steelstown attacking threat, they were caught between a rock and a hard place at times.
The 'Hounds played with Kieran McGlinchey as sweeper and dropped men back in a bid to deny the Brian Ogs space and leave room for their front two of Cormac Quigley and John Butcher but they were isolated and a reluctance to hit the ball in early allowed Steelstown to funnel men back and negate the threat.
The home side were well in the game at half-time when the trailed by 0-8 to 0-5 but they never quite got the balance between defensive solidity and committing men forward right in the face of the relentless Steelstown runners.
Ironically it was the 'Hounds who hit the opening two scores, the impressive John Butcher claiming a mark and a free inside the opening eight minutes as they side felt each other out.
However the Steelstown response was emphatic as six points in 12 minutes established a grip they would never loose. Oran McMenamin was their go-to man in the first half and he opened the scoring before McCarron equalised. McMenamin would hit three more, one a free, alongside a Fox effort that could have hit the net during that spell.
Limavady rallied well with Quigley and John Butcher reducing the deficit to two before Morgan Murray, a hat-trick hero against Lissan, and the ever reliable Neil Forester, took the visitors' tally to 0-8 either side of a Quigley free which left three between the team at the break.
Harry Butcher was almost in for a goal right at the start of the second half but Kevin Lindsay was alert to the danger as Forester and McCarron for Steelstown and Quigley for Limavady left it 0-10 to 0-6.
That had become 0-12 to 0-7 by the time the second half water break would arrive but just as it was looming Steelstown put the game to bed with that lovely Fox goal though Limavady must have question about how he was afforded so much space through the middle of their defence.
And a tough task was to become an impossible one with two more goals in a minute on the other side of the break. First, Steelstown's All Ireland winning minor, Donnacha Gilmore, took advantage of a sublime reverse hand pass from Murray to score his first senior championship goal and cap an excellent display from him. Seconds later Mark Foley was taking aim from far out on the right and when his effort rebounded high off the top of the Limavady posts, it could have dropped any better for McCarron who easily sent it into the back of the net for 3-12 to 0-08.
Late points from McMenamin, Cormac Mooney and Foley merely reinforced the gap and a second big win will have people chatting once more. That's now familiar territory for last year's beaten finalists but on this performance they are worth the fuss being made.
Limavady scorers: John Butcher (0-4, 3f, 1m), Cormac Quigley (0-2, 1f), Ruairi Hassan (0-2, 1f), Harry Butcher (0-1).
Steelstown scorers: Ben McCarron (1-4, 1f), Oran Fox (1-1), Donnacha Gilmore (1-0), Oran McMenamin (0-5, 2f), Neil Forester (0-2), Cormac Mooney (0-1), Mark Foley (0-1), Morgan Murray (0-1).
Limavady: Oran Hartin, James McLaughlin, Ben Deery, Manus Quigley, David Brolly, Tomas Deery, Aaron McGregor, Jack Deery, Sheagh McLaughlin, Harry Butcher, Oisin Hassan, Harry McLaughlin, Kieran McGlinchey, Cormac Quigley, John Butcher. (Subs) Liam Boyd for M Quigley (inj), 26mins; Eunan McLaughlin for A McGregor, HT; Ruairi Hassan for T Deery, 39mins; Tomas Deery for B Deery (inj), 45mins; Eoighan Rogers for J Deery, 53mins'
Steelstown: Martin Dunne, Oran Fox, Kevin Lindsay, Ryan McCloskey, Diarmuid Baker, Jason McAleer, Eoghan Concannon, Shane O'Connor, Ryan Devine, Oran McMenamin, Neil Forester, Donnacha Gilmore, Mark Foley, Ben McCarron, Morgan Murray. (Subs) Cormac Mooney for D Baker, 47mins; Emmett Deane for R Devine, 51mins.
Referee: Anthony Campbell