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19 May 2022

"It’s beautiful because we’ve been on a hell of a journey for a long time."

Steelstown captain Neil Forester reflects on amazing All-Ireland victory

Steelstown

Neil Forester celebrates at Croke Park.

Steelstown captain Neil Forester gave one of the most passionate speeches ever seen at Croke Park after he led his side to the All-Ireland Intermediate Football title.

It was the greatest day in the club’s history, the greatest day in the history of GAA within Derry city and the one of the greatest days in the lives of every player, management member, club member and supporter.

It’s been a long journey from waiting on their first Derry championship to winning a county, Ulster and All-Ireland title in one season, but Forester said that the final whistle of yesterday’s 3-14 to 2-5 win over Trim was testament to years of hard work – and something that even his wildest dreams couldn’t comprehend.

"It’s a special time for the club. Seeing the emotions of people like Anthony McGurk and Philip Devlin all in tears, Brian O’Connor in bits, Brid Moore, and my own parents,” said Forester. “It’s beautiful because we’ve been on a hell of a journey for a long time. You dream about climbing the steps of the Hogan Stand but you think about doing it with Sam Maguire and with Derry because you can’t quite consider it with your club. It’s nearly too big to consider with your club but this is incredible.

The blue and gold draped Croke Park as supporters travelled in their droves to celebrate a historic achievement that Forester said belongs to every club member, young and old.

“Normally we would have been considered quite polite supporters and all the rest but we’re a bit rowdy actually!” he laughed. “There was just class noise there again today and the wave of momentum and emotion just floods through the club. Boys and girls that I was coaching at under 8s and now they’re shouting and roaring at me over the sideline – it’s class. I know they’ll be looking to break into the senior team in the next few years too.”

For a team so young, Steelstown once again showed their grit, character, and their style. Forester praised his team mates for their drive in pushing the Óg’s to a place in the history books that will be talked about for many years to come.

“There’s nothing left to say. Derry was our everything at the start – trying to break that duck and some of the demons that we’ve had to slay along the way. Every time we get a victory it’s just more and more confidence.

“Our preparation has been flawless again. Even though it was only a week turnaround we knew exactly what we had to do to execute our gameplan and once again some of our performances were outstanding. Even if they did their research, trying to stop boys like Ben (McCarron) and Cahir (McMonagle) is a different task altogether.

“Again different boys stand up that were maybe quiet last week. I thought Jason McAleer had some huge turnovers early game. All around the park, the pace and intensity was frightening. Eoghan Bradley was excellent keeping the ball at times. This is just an incredible feeling that’s not going to sink in.”

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