Steelstown feet will stay firmly on ground says McGrath as Brian Ogs line up Ulster semi-final against Butlersbridge
Manager Hugh McGrath says he will have no trouble keeping Steelstown feet on the ground despite their impressive march to an Ulster Intermediate Club Championship semi-final against Cavan's Butlersbridge.
The Brian Ogs produced a breath-taking second half display against pre-Championship favourites, Donaghmoyne to outscore the Monaghan champions by 3-10 to 0-04 in the second half of Sunday’s 4-13 to 2-07 victory. That follows on from Steelstown’s controlled victory over Cloughaneely in O’Donnell Park two weeks previous and while momentum may be growing, McGrath says there’s no danger of anyone getting carried away with themselves.
“I won’t have any issue keeping their feet on the ground, don’t worry about that,” smiled the Brian Ogs manager, “This group have no baggage, there are no prima donnas running about with Ulster titles in their back pocket. The Derry title they got was very hard earned and very well won. They know how difficult it is to win one of those so they will definitely know how difficult it is to win an Ulster one.
“So, no, we don't talk about Ulster titles. We didn’t talk about a Derry title either, not once the whole way through. All we do is concentrate on the next game and I know that is a cliché and I know people get bored hearing that but who are we to talk about winning Ulster titles? We’ve never won one before, we’ve never even been in an Ulster final.
“No, for us it is only about an Ulster semi-final. For us that is the only thing on the horizon.”
If Steelstown’s second half on Sunday was superb, it was because it needed to be after a lacklustre opening half left them three points adrift despite dominating possession.
“I wasn’t concerned, I was frustrated, that was the over-riding emotion,” explained the Steelstown boss, “I know what this group is capable of so when you see things that happened in the first half that shouldn’t be happening, you get frustrated.
“The group is resilient enough though at this stage to know they can get in at half-time, re-assess, reset and then go from there. Frustration was the over-riding emotion from that first half.
“Usually we are quick starters but it took us a while to get going. Belief at this stage, the fact we haven’t been here before, it can take a while to get going. You see your direct opponent and think, ‘Okay, I have the measure if this guy and can go at it’.
“We asked at half-time if there anything that worried them, or would make them think they weren’t capable of winning their individual battles and the answer was, ‘No’. There was nobody there that we thought we couldn’t win our individual battle against. You saw it all over the field in the second half, we won maybe 14 our of 15 of them, if not all 15, and that’s what’s gets you over the line.
“We like to play football, we like to attack, and we did that in the second half and we got our rewards for it.”
With eight different scorers on the day, Steelstown’s attacking threat continues to catch the eye with Cahir McMonagle, Eoghan Bradley and Ben McCarron amassing 4-06 between them and McGrath was delighted to see his payers stand up to be counted in the second half.
“The boys are certainly learning because in years gone by we would have folded after that first half. In years gone by we would have relied totally on the likes of Neil Forester and Ryan Devine to pull us through but that wasn’t the case today. Those two guys played well but Ben McCarron stood up; Donncha Gilmore stood up again, Oran McMenamin as well, Shane O’Connor came into midfield and changed the middle of the park.
“For us it is no longer about relying on those one or two leaders but rather having 15 players that can take the game by the scruff of the neck and just say, ‘No, we’re not getting beat here today, we are going to go and win this.’
“I’ve said all along throughout our Derry campaign and the Cloughaneely game, we have forwards who can do damage. At Intermediate level you can usually pick out two, maybe three forwards that you have to keep a close eye on; We have six and another one or two on top of that. At Intermediate level that’s a really strong position to be in.
“Of course they have to click and that doesn’t always happen in games. Morgan Murray for example was very unlucky not to start in that six and scored two from two shots when he came on. Rory Maguire coming back from injury, Mickey McKinney to come into that mix, then there are guys like Ryan McCloskey; we are very lucky to be in the shape we are in but none of that means anything unless we get our heads down and get the work done because the next test is just as big.
“There’s nothing easy from here on in and we will be impressing that upon the boys. We’ll get our feet on the ground very quickly and get ourselves ready for Butlersbridge because that’s the next one ahead of us.”