Derry intermediate football champions Steelstown lapped up a goal spree in their emphatic (5-13 to 0-10) Ulster club semi-final championship victory over Cavan side Butlersbridge but manager Hugh McGrath has lost no time in affirming that this will not be allowed to breed complacency ahead of the final against Tyrone outfit Moortown.
“While it was tremendous to get this win over Butlersbridge we know that Moortown will be an extremely tough proposition. They will be very keen to give Tyrone football another boost,” insists McGrath.
Steelstown’s adherence to an all-out attacking policy certainly yielded rich dividends with Ben McCarron (2), Eoghan Bradley, Mark Foley and former Derry county ace Neil Forester landing their goals.
Ahead by 2-8 to 0-8 at the interval, the Oak Leaf representatives remained in top gear throughout the second-half restricting their opponents to just two points while maximising their own scoring opportunities at the other end of the field.Butlersbridge simply had no answer to Steelstown’s pace and panache as they lorded matters particularly in the last quarter.
If Butlersbridge sailed serenely into the decider, Moortown were forced to negotiate choppy waters before they eventually got the better of a rugged Tir na nOg Randalstown side by one point (0-9 to 0-8) in the other much more competitive ‘semi.
The Randalstown side made all the early running with Darragh Fegan, Darren McCormick and Peter Cullen leading the way in orchestrating a 0-5 to 0-1 lead. Moortown found their feet before the interval by which stage they had reduced the deficit to 0-5 to 0-3.
When Karl Hagan swept over his second point on the resumption, Moortown looked set to take control but instead Tir na nOg managed to keep their noses in front when McCormick landed a vital point. But Moortown’s resilience and spirit were to pay dividends when Butch Kelly pounced for two late points that helped to ease the side into the provincial final in a dramatic climax.
In the Ulster Club Junior Football Championship final Cavan champions Denn proved too strong for Donegal standard-bearers Downings in winning by 3-8 to 0-10. James Brady, Sean Donohoe and Mark McSherry grabbed Denn’s goals and although the McGroddy duo Keelan and Johnny tried hard to keep Downings in contention, their efforts were in vain.
Meanwhile, Armagh representatives Craobh Rua surged to the Ulster Junior Club Hurling Championship title by beating Carrickmacross by 1-15 to 1-10 in the final at the week-end.
Tiarnan O’Hare’s free-taking proved central to the orchard county team’s win while James Slevin, Luke McKenna and Oran Kiernan tried hard to salvage the match for Carrickmacross.