Steelstown pinned back by Newbridge as first senior win slips away from Brian Ogs

O'Neill's Derry Senior Football Championship, Group B

Steelstown's Cahir McMonagle scores a wonderful first half goal against Newbridge at Pairc Brid on Saturday. (Photo: George Sweeney)
Steelstown's Cahir McMonagle scores a wonderful first half goal against Newbridge at Pairc Brid on Saturday. (Photo: George Sweeney)

Steelstown 1-07, Newbridge 1-09

Steelstown can file this under 'one that got away'.

An historic day at Pairc Bhrid saw the Brian Ogs host their first ever senior championship tie and they probably should have been marking the occasion with a first ever win. True, it would have been nothing more than academic in terms of the senior championship groups but victory would still have seen another another milestone chalked off the list for the 2021 All Ireland Intermediate champions.

Cahir McMonagle's wonder goal in first half injury time had provided Hugh McGrath's men with a 1-04 to 0-03 interval lead which they pushed out to five points three minutes into the second period and they had other chances but went for goal when keeping the scoreboard moving should have been the priority. Newbridge were always going to respond, they're too good a side not to and a couple of extra scores when in the ascendency would probably have given Steelstown the cushion to withstand the inevitable Conor Dohery inspired fightback.

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Instead a seven minute burst of 1-03 inspired by Mark McGrogan's well worked 46th minute goal saw Newbridge turn a 1-05 to 0-04 deficit into a two point lead and the Brian Ogs were unable to rewind the clock.

Still, there was much to please about what was the best Steelstown display of the championship to date. With important players returning and getting back to something like full fitness, this was more like the team that blazed a trail to Croke Park last year. They're not back to that form yet and it possibly comes too late for this season with one of the group winners waiting in the first knock-out round but it was a performance to highlight they belong at this level.

Newbridge just had that bit of extra know-how when Steelstown began to run out of legs a bit in that fourth quarter and county man Doherty was the man pulling the strings. The Sean O'Leary's lost Michael Bateson to a hand injury late in the opening half but in what turned into a chess game of championship football, they held their nerve with that crucial fourth quarter burst.

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Newbridge had already sent straight forward free wide by the time Jason McAleer finally got the game's opening score six minutes. It was quickly cancelled out by an excellent mark from the dangerous Jude Diamond but two points from the impressive Dairmuid Baker, the second of which might have ended in a goal, saw the Brian Ogs 0-3 to 0-1 up as the game reached 20 minutes.

A lovely Ryan Devine effort from distance was then met by by an equally impressive Conor Doherty score as the sides went tit-for-tat before McMonagle lit up Pairc Bhrid with its first senior championship goal.

The young forward's finish was something else, firing a beautiful high finish over James Gribben from wide on the Steelstown right but it would not have been possible without Eoghan Concannon's superb cross field ball to pick him out. It was a goal fitting of a bigger stage.

Upon the restart, Morgan Murray hit a huge score and Steelstown seemed to have the game where they wanted it but crucially Murray's point would be his side's last until the final minute of normal time, by which time Doherty had inspired his team to turn the game on its head.

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And it all started with a flowing Newbridge move that ended with Doherty picking out McGrogan for a fine, low finish into the Steelstown net. The goal boosted the O'Learys and Steelstown, who had looked composed, were suddenly reeling. Three more Doherty points, the second a free, had Newbridge in front for the first time in the game at 1-07 to 1-05 with seven minutes remaining before Ciaran Brooks' brilliant run teed up substitute Callum McGrogan to smash over for a three point lead.

As he has so often in the past, Neil Forester was the man doing his damnedest to get Steelstown out of the hole they found themselves in and he almost managed it when his superb solo run took him past three defenders to fire a good shot that required an excellent save from Gribben. Ben McCarron was almost on the rebound but his fisted effort went over, rather than under the cross bar.

Callum McGrogan grabbed the second point of an excellent late cameo to restore Newbridge's three point cushion with Concannon's injury time point serving only as a footnote in a game of what might have been for the Brian Ogs.

Steelstown scorers: Cahir McMonagle (1-0), Diarmuid Baker (0-2), Jason McAleer (0-1), Ryan Devine (0-1), Morgan Murray (0-1), Ben McCarron (0-1), Eoghan Concannon (0-1).

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Newbridge scorers: Mark McGrogan (0-1), Conor Doherty (0-4, 1f), Callum McGrogan (0-2), Jude Diamond (0-1, 1m), Odhran McGlone (0-1), Ciaran Brooks (0-1).

Steelstown: Eoghan Heraghty, Oran Fox, Kevin Lindsay, Diarmuid Baker, Cormac Mooney, Jason McAleer, Eoghan Concannon, Shane O'Connor, Ryan Devine, Oran McMenamin, Ben McCarron, Neil Forester, Cahir McMonagle, Morgan Murray, Eoghan Bradley. (Subs) Gareth Logue for E Bradley, 53mins; Emmett Deane for M Murray, 54mins;

Newbridge: James Gribben, Desmond McColgan, Conor McGrogan, Shane McGrogan, Conor Doherty, Ciaran Brooks, Padraig McGrogan, Nathan Rocks, Mark McGrogan, Mark Doherty, Michael Bateson, Conor McAteer, Odhran McGlone, Jude Diamond, Declan McKeever. (Subs) Micky O'Neill for M Bateson (inj), 30mins; Shea Ateer for O McGlone, 41mins; Caolan McGrogan for D McKeever, 41mins;

Referee: Ciaran Connor