Ulster final heartbreak can be Steelstown's driving force says captain Aoife McGough

Steelstown Ladies’ joint captain Aoife McGough says the pain of Saturday’s Ulster Intermediate Championship defeat can become the driving force behind a squad of players who will return hungrier than ever next season.

Monday, 15th November 2021, 5:32 pm
Updated Monday, 15th November 2021, 5:34 pm
The Steelstown Ladies panel looks on as Kinawley lift the Ulster Intermediate Championship in Augher on Saturday.

The Brian Ogs lost out in heart-breaking fashion to Kinawley in Augher on Saturday afternoon, Roisin O’Reilly’s injury time point eventually deciding a game which could have gone either way before the Fermanagh club secured a first title in what was their fourth Ulster Intermediate final.

The result was a bitter pill for the city girls who had led by six points at the beginning of the second half but McGough says the setback will only make them more determined to return to the provincial stage next season.

“It was a hard pill to swallow watching Kinawley lift that cup but in fairness to Kinawley they have been here three times and, I think, lost by a point twice so we have to look at them for inspiration and try to push on from here,” reflected the full-back.

“There was nothing between the two teams but that’s what finals are like and maybe it was their previous experience that took them over the line in the end but I know this team. This is not the end for this Steelstown team. We’ll use this as ammunition to push on and hopefully be back here in the future.”

McGough was named ‘Player of the Match’ in the Derry Final victory over Ballinscreen and her battle with Kinawley’s talisman and full forward, Joanne Doonan, proved one of the highlights of an enthralling game which Steelstown looked to be in control of until a harsh second half yellow card for half-back Enya Doherty.

Alongside the likes of Emma Doherty and fellow captain, Ciara McGurk, Derry player McGough already has an Ulster Junior medal from the 2015 victory over Monaghan’s Neill Shamrocks and believes there is plenty of years left in the current Brian Ogs squad with the promise of more young players to come.

“Never mind the year we have had with injuries and that didn’t break us. We are made of tough stuff, made of ‘steel’ but we will push on, this will not be the end of this Steelstown team,” added McGough.

“It is still a very young team and there are even more young players coming through. Even the likes of Ella (Rose Sainsbury) who was here watching us in the Junior final last time and then playing here today, she was inspired that day and came through to the senior team and hopefully more will follow her example.

“I did just say to the girls there now that although this is a very painful one to take, had someone told us at the start of the year that we would be in the Ulster Final and perform in a way that is going to make the club proud but narrowly miss, that’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s tough to right now take but when everything settles, we will look back and be proud of our achievements this season.”

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Ulster heartbreak for Steelstown as Kinawley crowned Intermediate champions