Steelstown manager McGrath calls on city Gaels to get behind Brian Ogs' Ulster bid

Steelstown manager Hugh McGrath is hoping the city's Gaels can put aside parish rivalries and get behind the Brian Ogs when they take on Monaghan champions, Donaghmoyne in the Ulster Intermediate Club Championship quarter-final.

Saturday, 20th November 2021, 8:07 pm
Updated Saturday, 20th November 2021, 8:08 pm

Steelstown manager Hugh McGrath is hoping the city's Gaels can put aside parish rivalries and get behind the Brian Ogs when they take on Monaghan champions, Donaghmoyne in the Ulster Intermediate Club Championship quarter-final.

The Ballyarnett men qualified for the last eight at the expense of Donegal champions, Cloughaneely in Letterkenny on Saturday in what was a first appearance in a provincial competition since 2003 when they appeared in the Junior edition despite losing out to Glen Thirds in the Derry championship final.

This year's maiden Intermediate county title and a deserved, if tougher than it should have been victory over Cloughaneely suggests Steelstown are better equipped this time round and McGrath says he would love the see the city get behind his team for a game that is expected to take place in Celtic Park on the weekend of December 4th/5th.

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Steelstown pictured before the recent County Final victory over Greenlough. (Photo: George Sweeney)

“It’s great to have a home tie in Celtic Park and it would be great if we could get as many people out to support us as possible, I think this group deserve that," said McGrath after his side's 0-13 to 1-08 victory in O'Donnell Park, "It’s been a long road since last year and losing the final so the more days that you can get with big support, the better.

“The more we see of the city clubs sticking together, the better. For years it was all about parish rivalries in the city but there’s no need for it. We’re all competing on the same platform and the sooner we help each other and get everybody up to the intermediate level to start off with, the better for football in the city.”

McGrath admitted Steelstown were never at their emphatic best against Cloughaneely who finished the game with 13 men but he had nothing but praise for how his players dug out the result on a first experience of the Ulster Club Championship.

“It wouldn’t be a Steelstown game if we didn’t make it exciting for everyone in the stands," smiled the Saul native, "It’s a difficult one. We were in unchartered territory here and we just had to see how the guys reacted.

"The positive thing that we got out of it was the result obviously. The performance wasn’t what we wanted it to be but I think when we went behind in the first half we showed our character again. I don’t think that should ever be questioned with this group. They showed what they’re capable of doing. Even when they go behind, they don’t panic, they just go through their process and make sure they get out of the right end of the scoreline."

Ben McCarron hit 0-5 for the Brian Ogs in a display in which they failed to register the scores their build-up play deserved but McGrath expects them to improve as the competition goes on. Indeed a late Cloughaneely effort struck the upright before the final whistle eventually eased the Derry nerves.

“A certain Derry manager warned me during the week that Cloughaneely were a very good outfit with Division One football all year and they’d be very hard to beat. He’s never usually too far off the mark and he was exactly right," added McGrath.

“We bossed the entire first half bar maybe three or four minutes of it but Cloughaneely are not champions of Donegal for no reason but there’s always going to be a sting from a team like that and they showed what they’re capable of. I think we showed what we’re capable of too. We’re capable of digging deep, we showed what our bench can do as well. We’ve as many good players coming into the team as have started it and for us that’s a positive. We need to build on it and take the next step.

“I’m very difficult to please at the best of times but I was fairly unhappy that we didn’t have a better go and run at them. Neil Forester showed it a couple of times, running at teams and putting them under pressure. That running was what caused the two red cards, putting them under pressure and forcing them to make decisions. The more we do that, the further we go in the competition because we have that type of footballer there. Again, nerves showed. Getting over the line will help. We’ll get a couple of weeks of work done now and we’re totally focused on the next game.

"For us it was about getting a win in Ulster, next step is two wins in Ulster and we’ll see where we go from there."

The Monaghan champions will be another tough encounter for the Brian Ogs but McGrath believes his team will be bettr the the experience of Saturday's opening tie.

“Generally the way we play, it’ll sharpen up and it’ll tighten up. You have to remember that you’re playing football on the 20th November. It’s not that easy on the surfaces that you’re on and the conditions that you’re in. I think that we’ve enough footballers that are self critical enough to ask, did I have a good game? Could I have done better?

"We’ll analyse it and look at it and we’ll pick up the lessons from it and learn.”

“We’ve lots of guys that have represented schools in schools’ finals and guys playing for the county at underage level, but there’s nothing that can mimic playing for your club on this level. The guys were nervous and that was obvious, but we showed our quality and how calm we can be under pressure.

"Even at the end there, it should never have been that close but we dug it out, we dug out the last ball that hit the crossbar and we showed the character that’s going to be needed for the next game against Donaghmoyne who are a good outfit. I’ve watched them twice now and they’ll not pass up as many chances as Cloughaneely.”

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