Steelstown Ladies manager Cusack hails Ulster champions as best squad!

Jubilant Steelstown Brian Ogs players celebrate after winning the Ulster Intermediate football Championship in Carrickmore on Saturday. (Photo: Michael Wilson)
Jubilant Steelstown Brian Ogs players celebrate after winning the Ulster Intermediate football Championship in Carrickmore on Saturday. (Photo: Michael Wilson)

Two years ago a Roisin O'Reilly point for Kinawley had condemned the Brian Ogs to a heart rendering one point defeat and it looked as if history was about to repeat itself when Glenavy's 15 year half-forward Aoibheann Monaghan put her side 1-9 to 1-8 up with the clock just past the 61st minute.

Lesser teams would have crumbled but Steelstown would not be denied in injury time again.

Leah McGonagle, herself completing a remarkable renaissance after recovering from a cruciate ligament injury, won the free which Orla McGeough had ice in her veins to convert. It proved the platform upon which the Ballyarnett girls built their best period of the day to pull away in the first half of extra-time. Brilliant, dramatic, breathless stuff agreed a delighted Brian Ogs manager after watching Aoife McGough and Ciara McGurk raise the trophy.

"I was thinking it was going to be another heartbreaking year and then we just got that late score, that last score to take us to extra-time," admitted Cusack after the 2-12 to 2-11 victory, "I think it broke Glenavy a bit because they had been so close to winning it.

"Then that first half in extra-time was the best football we played and the whole game turned. We turned it on and manged to pull away from them for the first time."

The Steelstown senior manager said there was as much relief as joy that his players had finally secured a victory be believes they fully deserved.

"It's a very hard feeling to put into words," explained Cusack, "Relief, nerves, everything; it was such a close game. We started off very well and to be honest I thought we were going to dominate them but they came back at us.

"They got that early goal and really put it up to us after that. We were glad to be going in only two points down at half-time. Second half we hung in there with them a bit, didn't play great football, but the energy Glenavy brought, we were sort of taken aback by it.

READ MORE: Steelstown lift Ulster title after thriller in Carrickmore

"Later though, we started to get to grips with the game and play a bit of football and eventually, in extra-time, we pulled away a bit but it was such a tight game."

And after adding the provincial Intermediate title to the Ulster Junior crown they won back in 2015, Cusack hailed his champions as they best squad he's worked with as they go forward to an All Ireland semi-final in two weeks' time.

"This is the best squad I have worked with," he added, "I have been in charge of the seniors since 2015 and this is easily the best squad we've had. When you are picking the team you’re splitting hairs and every time we bring someone off the bench we're introducing strength which made a real difference for us today.

"Now we've an All Ireland semi-final to look forward to. We’re away down to Leitrim in a couple of weeks so we will get to work on that one after we've enjoyed the next couple of nights. It's one to look forward to."