McKinney at the double as Steelstown win again

February 9, 2013 at 7:54 pm

Ardara 0-5 Steelstown 2-8

TWO goals, two wins, two very important statements.

Steelstown Brian Óg’s continued their winning start to the season as they secured a second Ulster League victory and shot right to the top of their group after overcoming a dogged Ardara side.

Making the two hour trip to the south of Donegal on Saturday morning, the city boys doubled up on their winning tally in the competition last year and put themselves right into the qualification reckoning for the semi finals.

Having already scrapped for maximum points at home to Slaughtneil last week, the Ballyarnet men took the opportunity to freshen the side up and started with a strong bench which included Stephen Cleary, Paul O’Hea, and James Jackson.  Changes were also made elsewhere as Hugh McGrath took a back seat and allowed Dermot McBride to step in and command full reins of the touchline for this one.

The visitors started with a strong breeze blowing in their favour but failed to really capitalise on the advantage as Ardara’s physical middle third dominated the first half kickouts and held a platform for 30 minutes which had the Steelstown backline overworked.

The green jerseys were camped in the Derry men’s half but, despite taking a two point lead, that was their lot for the remainder of the first period as a combination of staunch defending and wasteful attacks kept the damage at a minimum.

On the 10 minute mark, Mickey McKinney further made his case for a place further out the field as the man perenially tasked with the corner back role since his move to senior level almost seven years ago now, drove through from wing forward and smashed the top left corner of the netting.

Seconds later, McKinney had picked out Daniel Jackson – pushed into the full forward line this week – with a weighted diagonal pass and the ball was no sooner sailing over.  Darren McDaid hit a trademark worldly from the right wing late on in the first half as the sides put behind a dull opening and went to the break with a goal between them.

With Conor McGoran – back from Glasgow for the weekend – introduced to midfield at half time and Stephen Cleary taking station between the posts for the throw in, it was immediately evident that the travelling side had too much for the opposition in reserve.

Despite facing the elements head on, Stephen Cleary sent the umpires searching for three unanswered white flags, the first off his left, the second off his right, the third from a free.

Ardara and all their runners did get forward but too often Kevin Lindsay was nicking in front, Tony Ling was bombing forward with possession, and Aidan Cleary was cutting out the supply line expertly and picking passes for fun.

Michael Moore curled over a beautiful effort from the right hand side to cancel out two points at the other end before James Jackson came into the action and sealed the game as a contest.  Twice he caught, twice he turned, twice he scored.

All that was missing was the icing on the cake for the travelling U14 squad to celebrate and McKinney struck again when he polished off a Neil Forester surge by picking out the top left corner again with all the composure of a cocky half time expo.

Two wins from two for the Páirc Bhríd army who are looking to hit the 14th of April and the start of the Derry league with a bang.

Right now, Fermanagh’s Belcoo and Tyrone’s Greencastle stand in the way of a semi final spot in the Ulster League, won last year by the eventual all-conquering Ballinderry.

So good so far.

STEELSTOWN:Marty Dunne; Rory O’Connor, Kevin Lindsay, Tony Ling; Neil Forester, Ryan McCloskey, Eamon Donnelly; Eamonn Gibson, Darren McDaid (0-1); Michael Moore (0-1), Ruairi McKeever, Mickey McKinney (2-0); Daniel Jackson (0-1), Gareth Logue, Aidan Cleary

Subs: Stephen Cleary (0-3, 0-1f) for Jackson (HT), Conor McGoran for Gibson (HT), Shane O’Connor for Donnelly (40), James Jackson (0-2) for Logue (45), Paul O’Hea for McCloskey (52)