Codebreaker Steve Williams enjoying Monaghan role
By Cian O’Connell
Inter-county teams throughout the country in Gaelic Football and hurling are sprinkled with experts more renowned for their deeds in other sports.
One of the most interesting contributors is former Shelbourne star Steve Williams, currently Dundalk goalkeeping coach, who works with the accomplished Monaghan custodian Rory Beggan.
Welshman Williams enjoyed a productive career in the League of Ireland, but is now playing a valuable role developing young Gaelic Football goalkeepers too.
“I still work with a lot of teams around Armagh, a couple of young goalkeepers in Tyrone, and a lot of goalkeepers in Louth as well, I'm working with Dundalk and I do a job full time so it can be chaotic,” Williams laughs.
The 43 year old, though, finds the time to deliver and thoroughly enjoys assisting Beggan, who is now among the most respected netminders in Gaelic Football. “In 2011 one of the 'keepers left the senior panel; Mark Keogh was the number one at the time and Rory was pulled from the minors to come to train with us for a few weeks,” Williams recalls.
“We saw potential in him. The rest is history, he came to every session, we worked him hard, we worked with him on what the game needed at the time which was a different style of game.
“It wasn't just long ball anymore. So we worked with him thoroughly, I left two years later to go in with Dundalk, but we kept in touch and obviously in the last couple of years it has been a bit more intense with him. He has become really good.”
At Dundalk there is no shortage of Gaelic Football pedigree. Captain Stephen O’Donnell won an All Ireland Under 14 Feile title in his teeange years, while Williams works with Gary Rogers, who had a couple of stints in the Meath senior panel. “I'm the goalkeeping coach with Dundalk for the last six years,” Williams says. “Gary was my understudy at Shelbourne when he was 16 so I have known Gary for 20 odd years. Working with him for the last few years, I know him really well.
“It is surprising about his Gaelic background because when I chat to him he says he didn't play Gaelic too much.
“He played a bit and was going to go back maybe around 2010 or 2011 to play with Meath, but he declined to stay playing in the League of Ireland. He has been brilliant for us this year, one of our star performers this season.”
With Rogers occupying an influential role in Dundalk’s title challenge Beggan’s relevance to the Monaghan cause cannot be underestimated either. Williams has studied the art of goalkeeping in the different games. “I think we have broken it down into three segments,” Williams explains.
“Under the high ball which Rory caught a couple of nice balls against Galway. Being a good goalkeeper as well through distributing the ball out which he does. Not making any mistakes is key, he has come on leaps and bounds.
“His distribution is what my game change from League of Ireland and playing soccer kicking the ball out and getting backpasses brings.
“You have to evolve with it, the game now with Rory's kicking, he is like a golf club, he can hit it short, long, left, right with different types of range. It is a very good weapon to have.” Williams has supplied valuable guidance and assistance to Beggan, who continues to deliver for Monaghan.