Kilrea flex muscles in strong opener

April 16, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Kilrea 1-11
Steelstown 0-7

STEELSTOWN went down in their opening challenge of the new season against a well-oiled Kilrea ship in Pearse Park on Sunday.
With a huge wind howling the length of the south Derry pitch, Brian Óg’s were tasked with facing the storm head on in a subdued first period which looked to have suited the visitors right down to the ground.
The hosts, under new stewardship for the first time in Mickey and Anton Moran, were out to impress and pumped long, direct balls into the full forward line for Enda McAleese to continually win but a string of bad wides in the opening stages had Kilrea’s initial two point lead flattering the city men.
Stephen Cleary got the Óg’s back in touch when he burst off the shoulder and split the posts with the top of his laces and, despite missing three frees in a row, despite watching the red jerseys extend their lead at the other end, Eamonn Donnelly latched onto a Conor McGoran cross-field ball and set up James Jackson to keep the Steelstown men in touch against the gale and all.
Another couple of wides from the Pearses attack had the home side worried heading in for the break as they led by 0-7 to 0-2 when, really, it could and should have been more.
But Kilrea started the brightest in the second period and, with Charlie Kielt dominant at number six, with James Kielt and Sean McMahon bombing forward from the middle at every opportunity, and Tiarnan Rafferty piercing holes from centre forward, Steelstown were kept on the back foot as a physically superior opposition overran them and Gavin McWilliams hit the net within the first five minutes of the restart.
Eventually though, Hugh McGrath’s men started to settle into the second half and two massive Stephen Cleary frees from beyond the 45′ had their tales back up.  With Tony Ling in ruthless form at the back, the number two was winning everything and driving out, and the Óg’s restored their running power in the like of Mickey Moore and McKinney.
As time wore thin though and as Kilrea matched the away side point for point, Shane O’Connor and Michael Moore found a way through the swarming red shirts and a pull back for Dan Jackson presented the only sight Steelstown were afforded at goal.  Jackson pulled the trigger with his vicious left foot but found two defenders hurling themselves in front of the ball and the chance went abegging, as too did Steelstown’s opening weekend aspirations.
A Sunday which through up little surprises though meant that McGrath and his side lost no ground on their closest competitors and they kickstart their challenge next Saturday when they welcome Craigbane to Páirc Bhríd.

Steelstown: Marty Dunne; Tony Ling, Paul O’Hea, Kevin Lindsay; Ryan McCloskey, Neil Forester, Eamonn Donnelly; Darren McDaid, Conor McGoran; Michael McKinney, Aidan Cleary (0-2), Michael Moore; James Jackson (0-1), Stephen Cleary (0-4, 0-2f), Dan Jackson
Subs: Conán Doherty for McDaid (Blood sub 15, reversed 17), Conán Doherty for James Jackson (40), Shane O’Connor for Moore (42), Paul Ferris for Dan Jackson (52)