‘It hasn’t been easy. We’ve faced serious adversity’ – Derry city club celebrate All-Ireland 35 years after founding

STEELSTOWN BRIAN ÓGS were crowned All-Ireland intermediate champions yesterday, the Derry club etching their names into history in Croke Park.

They became the first Derry side to lift the intermediate title, and the first Derry city club to win an All-Ireland after triumphing against Trim of Meath on a scoreline of 3-14 to 2-5. (Three clubs from the south of the county have won senior titles before in Bellaghy 1972, Lavey 1991 and Ballinderry 2002.)

Founded as recently as 1987, captain Neil Forester gave the full background of Steelstown Brian Ógs in a simply superb acceptance speech.

Full of passion and emotion, Foreseter also referenced tragedies that have impacted the club through the years,

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Brian Óg McKeever died in 2009 at the age of 17, after a battle with leukaemia. He had captained underage teams at the club and was also a Derry minor player. Steelstown changed their name thereafter, and retired the number five jersey in his honour. 

Charlene Griffiths was another huge club figure, who passed away three years later.

For those who missed it, or those who want to watch it again and again – Neil Forester's winning speech. That'll ring out for years to come. https://t.co/1nVzbJ5pHK pic.twitter.com/CzejrstbR5

— Orlagh Mullan (@OrlaghMullan) February 7, 2022

Neil Forrester’s speech in full:

“To Croke Park, the GAA, AIB, this is an incredible competition. It really is the crown jewel in the GAA calendar because you can see how much it means to the parishes and communities of Ireland.

“We’re a young club. We were founded by Anthony McGurk, Mickey Doherty, Philip Devlin. They were told there was no Gaelic football in the city, but they did not listen. They planted the acorn, it was nurtured by people like Brid Kelly-McElroy, Andy Barr Senior. They were told there was no Gaelic football in Derry city, they did not listen. To you, our coaches, administrators, parents, you nurtured us more. The oak tree grew. Gaelic football is alive in Derry City.

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“It hasn’t been easy. We’ve faced serious adversity. We’ve never won a league or a championship on our men’s team, now we have three. Adversity wasn’t just on the pitch, it was off it. We lost people that we loved; people like Charlene, people like Brian Óg McKeever. He’s the true captain of this club, it should be him climbing these steps, he’s the captain’s captain. It wasn’t to be, so instead, we named our club after him. Even though he was only 17 years old, that’s the type of man that he was.

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“Tonight, everybody will know his name and our club’s name, because Derry city belongs to Steelstown Brian Ógs.”

  • You can read more abut the club in this excellent piece by Cahair O’Kane for The Irish News.

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