Steelstown blitz Donaghmoyne with superb second half display in Ulster Club Championship
Ulster Intermediate Club Championship Quarter-Final
Steelstown 4-13, Donaghmoyne 2-07
Championship statements of intent don't come much more emphatic than Steelstown's second half display against Monahan champions, Donaghmoyne.
Going into Ulster Intermediate Club Championship quarter-final in Celtic Park you could have got Steelstown at 15/8 with some bookmakers. After Sunday, you won't get them at that price for the semi-final against Cavan's Butlersbridge in two weeks time!
Ironically, that 15/8 may even have stretched at half-time after a opening half in which Donaghmoyne's greater efficiency in front of the posts saw them turn around a goal to the good at 2-03 to 1-03. During the same period Steelstown struggled to turn ample possession into scores, hitting six first half wides and dropping four short in a hugely frustrating first 30 odds minutes.
It was tentative, conservative stuff from a side blessed with pace and power but after a (most likely) less than subtle reminder of that fact from manager at Hugh McGrath at half-time, Steelstown emerged to produce a phenomenal 30 minutes of football that left Donaghmoyne shell shocked.
With 13 seconds of the restart, Cahir McMonagle had the ball in the Donaghmoyne net before a Ben McCarron free seconds had the Brian Ogs in front. From there it was almost exhibition stuff as Steelstown went through the gears.
The half-time introduction of Shane O'Connor proved a master stroke, the big midfielder slotting in alongside Ryan Devine to help the city side completely dominate the middle third. And with McCarron and McMonagle re-energised to join Eoghan Bradley, who had been terrorising Donaghmoyne all afternoon, Steelstown had simply too many attacking threats.
At the other end Eoghan Concannon, Oran Dox and Diarmuid Baker were superb although the game did include the collector's item of a forward getting the better of Kevin Lindsay. That was full forward Donaghmoyne full forward Ronan McDonald and it led to his side's opening goal but he really shouldn't have bothered. Lindsay gathered himself to produce a brilliant exhibition of full-back play afterwards, his superb 50th minute tackle leading directly to the move of the match, a penalty and Steelstown's fourth goal.
With Steelstown able to introduce O'Connor, Morgan Murray, Rory Maguire and Mickey McKinney off the bench, McGrath has an embarrassing array of choice at his disposal, something few other clubs at this level will be able to match. The Derry men started with the same 15 that began their Ulster opener in O'Donnell Park two weeks previous but an opening quarter which the city side dominated ended with them trailing by two points after the concession of two very soft goals.
Indeed, the entire first half was a story of Steelstown frustration as they racked up six wides and dropped four shots short against a much more efficient Monaghan side who scored their 2-03 from only six shots.
Hugh McGrath's men controlled possession and as a consequence Donaghmoyne's initial set-up eventually morphed into a more defensive shape, designed to utilise full-forward Ronan McDonald with quick, long balls. It worked a treat too but only because Steelstown allowed it too by conceding too many turnovers and getting caught with men out of possession.
And all this after the perfect start thanks to Eoghan Bradley's first minute goal which owed everything to a lovely run down the left by Gareth Logue who picked out the young forward in space at the far post. Bradley, Steelstown's best player in the opening half, still had plenty to do though but showed composure beyond his years to roll a exquisite finish in at the keeper's near post as he closed.
That goal had the Brian Ogs two up after Davy Garland's opener over his shoulder but rather than build on a running game that seemed to have Donaghmoyne in trouble, Steelstown slowed the temp and it afforded the Monaghan club a chance to regroup that they grasped with both hands.
First a long ball in from Frank Markey was gathered superbly by Ronan McDonald who had Lindsay for company but acres to run into. Few get the better of the Brian Ogs full-back but McDonald managed it and once goal side, he squeezed a low shot through the legs of Eoghan Heraghty to level at 1-01 a-piece.
Bradley edged Steelstown back in front with a lovely score after selling two dummies but Dongahmoyne grabbed a second goal when the excellent Davy Garland was tripped by Concannon as he went through on goal. Up stepped Liam McDonald and suddenly the Monaghan men were 2-01 to 1-02 ahead.
That became 2-03 to 1-03 by the break with Steelstown clearly knocked out of their stride by the concession of two goals.
One possibly polite reminder (or should that be rollicking) later though and the Steelstown that bulldozed its way through Derry was back with McMonagle and McCarron leading the second half onslaught.
First McMonagle side-stepped his marker to fire home only 13 seconds after the second half throw in before McCarron tagging on a lead point. From there it was one way traffic.
A third goal arrived on 35 minutes, McMonagle again the man on target after McCarron's brilliant run and shot had broken perfectly for him in from of the posts.
The fourth was a penalty following a move started by a textbook Lindsay tackle inside his own 45. Within seconds the ball had been shifted forward and Diarmuid Baker was being brought down inside the square, with McCarron's penalty as emphatic as Steelstown's second half display.
Job done and momentum is growing. Cloughaneely tried to the defensive approach; Donaghmoyne tried to outplay them but this Steelstown squad is showing they have the personnel and attitude to cope with either option.
Steelstown scorers: Cahir McMonagle (2-2, 1f), Ben McCarron (1-3, 1f, 1pen), Eoghan Bradley (1-1), Oran McMenamin (0-2, 1f 1m), Morgan Murray (0-2, 1m), Mark Foley (0-1), Donncha Gilmore (0-1), Oran Fox (0-1).
Donaghmoyne scorers: Davy Garland (0-6, 4f, 1m), Ronan McDonald (1-0), Liam McDonald (1-1, 1pen).
Steelstown: Eoghan Heraghty, Oran Fox, Kevin Lindsay, Diarmuid Baker, Donncha Gilmore, Jason McAleer, Eoghan Concannon, Oran McMenamin, Ryan Devine, Gareth Logue, Neil Forester, Ben McCarron, Mark Foley, Cahir McMonagle, Eoghan Bradley. (Subs) Shane O'Connor for G Logue, HT; Rory Maguire for O McMenamin, 52mins; Morgan Murray for M Foley, 52mins Mickey McKinney for E Bradley, 60mins;
Yellow Cards: M Foley, 23mins; G Logue, 29mins;
Donaghmoyne: Shane Garland, Stephen Martin, Niall Meegan, Conor Cumiskey, Stephen Cunningham, Cillian Coleman, James McCaughey, Niall Keenan, Frank Markey, Niall Garland, Padraig Donaghy, Liam McDonald, Declan Courtney, Ronan McDonald, Davy Garland. (Subs): Stephen Finnegan for N Garland, HT; Niall Meegan for C Cumiskey, 38mins; Liam Martin for N Keenan, 38mins; Aaron Courtney for D Courtney, 53mins; Josh Wilson for C Coleman, 55mins;
Yellow Cards: D Courtney, 13mins; S Martin, 40mins;
Referee: Kieran Eannetta (Tyrone)