Steelstown work ethic has earned squad its Ulster final spot says Brian Ogs manager McGrath

Steelstown manager Hugh McGrath says his players fully deserve their place in the Ulster Intermediate football final, revealing his dedicated squad take care of all their own strength and conditioning work.

Tuesday, 21st December 2021, 11:38 am

Saturday’s 5-13 to 0-10 semi-final victory over Cavan champions, Butlersbridge, was the second Ulster Championship tie in succession in which the Brian Ogs produced a breathtaking second half display to blow the opposition away and McGrath had nothing but praise for every member of his 30-man squad whom he believes are pushing each other to greater heights.

“It’s taken a lot of work to get to this stage but this group just continue to improve and they’ve got what they deserve,” explained McGrath after the victory in Ederney, “It was put up to us at the start of the game and we knew that’s the way Cavan football is, they’ll go all at you straight away.

“We settled into it thereafter and took control. I think the biggest example of it was the start of the second half when we were down to 14 with the black card and we just owned the ball. We let the clock tick down and actually tagged on a couple of scores as well. I think our third quarter was excellent, one of the best we’ve had in a long time.

Sign up to our daily Derry Journal Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Steelstown’s Ryan Devine gets off a shot during the Ulster IFC semi-final against Butlersbrige played at Ederney on Saturday afternoon last. DER2151GS – 001

“There’s not many in this group that haven’t played inter-county football at some stage in their career, whether it be minor, U20, U21 or senior, or at a high level at schools or university. They’ve been around good coaches so they know what’s expected of them.

“People will think that we’re supremely fit but we don’t do any conditioning work at training – we play football. That’s something they take care of themselves. When you see a team as conditioned as they are and they’re taking care of it, you’re fairly confident that they’re taking the football instructions onboard and if that continues then there’s good things ahead of us.”

Once again it was the Brian Ogs forward line that caught the eye in another free scoring display but with a strength in depth that would be the envy of many senior managers, McGrath says has a job keeping so many good footballers happy

“I’m not a big fan of making many changes during the game if things are going well,” he admitted, “I’ve a few angry men at me on the bench and I understand and appreciate that, but the group doesn’t score 5-13 if at training every time we meet up there’s not 32 or 33 boys going at it hammer and tongs.

“The guys on the field starting know that two or three slip-ups, or one bad game, and someone else is in and you’re sitting on the bench for a long time. It’s happened in the past and it will happen again in the future. Shane O’Connor was superb again today. He had his time on the bench. He came in against Donaghmoyne and made a real difference. He got his chance again today and showed just why he was back in there.”

The final against Tyrone Moortown promises to be another trip into the unknown for Steelstown and McGrath believes that squad strength will be critical.

“In Ulster, especially for us having not been here before, you don’t know until you’re there and matched up by a team what exactly they have and how good they are. It does take a while to settle into the games. For us, we were quite good at the in-game adjustments and they seemed to work for us. The fact that we’ve so many good players that are starting or that can come in gives us options. We’re comfortable enough that if it’s not going right at the start we can make a few tweaks here and there and hopefully get it right in the end.”