Tuesday 18 June 2019

Glory days for Charleville

Sports Review of the Year: Pat Ryan takes a look back at a remarkable year for Charleville which saw them crowned Munster champs

Charleville defeated Courcey Rovers in the county final replay
Charleville defeated Courcey Rovers in the county final replay

It's a year that will live long in the memory of Charleville GAA club. Years of striving and work behind the scenes all came together to make for a remarkably successful twelve months of sustained success.

County titles in Football and Hurling along with a Munster Hurling title have made for an outstanding year. Success over the past seven or eight years have helped in no small with the achievements of 2018.

2018 was a very busy season for the club in hurling and football. About 10 of the adult teams in hurling and football were also involved at Under 21 level. The Division 1 FL was the first competition of the year. Charleville had a very good run in this league.

The final was against Clyda Rovers in Doneraile in late April. Charleville were already defeated by Clyda Rovers in an early round. On this occasion Clyda Rovers were well in contention for long periods.

After a close first half where defences were very tight Charleville led 0-4 to 0-3. Early on the second half they moved 0-6 to 0-4 ahead. Msid way through this half Aaron O'Connor cut through with his attempt at goal hitting the crossbar and O'Connor was on hand to goal from the rebound. They sealed their 5 point win with late points by Darren Butler and James Kennedy as they were victorious by 1-11 to 0- 9.

There was a big delay for the county championship. In early November Charleville played their County Under 21 B FC semi-final against Midleton in Mallow under lights. The Avondhu side were always in control and emerged winners by 1-11 to 1-4.

The final in Páirc Ui Rinn on November 11 was a very big win for Charleville over Duarigle Gaels on a final scoreline of 3-11 to 1-3. That final was played in very bad weather.

Kilshannig had won the title the previous year beating Robert Emmett's in the final. On this occasion Charleville came up against a well balanced Duarigle Gaels also from Duhallow.

The Avondhu side did well from the start. Darragh Fitzgibbon and Tim Hawe impressed all through at midfield and in the end Charleville emerged winners by 3-11 to 1-3.

Charleville had a very good run in the Division 1 FL in 2018. They had seven games to get to the final. The final was against the reigning champions Buttevant where Charleville lost 4-11 to 1-12.

Charleville's opening game in the Synergy Fermoy Credit Union JAFC was against Mitchelstown in Doneraile on May 12. On this occasion Charleville showed signs they would be strong contenders for outright success.

They had their two goals in the first half. The first after 16 minutes when Finbarr Cagney put Aaron O'Connor through for a goal. The second goal came in injury time when Mark Kavanagh placed Finbarr Cagney who gave his side an interval lead 2-7 to 0-1..

The trend was much the same on the restart with Charleville using the short passing to good effect and they added a further 0-7 in this half. In the end there was no denying the Rathluirc side their place in the quarter final on a 2-14 to 0-4 scoreline.

Charleville's next game was their quarter-final win over Mallow by 0-8 to 0- 4. In the semi-final Fermoy defeated a fancied Kilshannig and so Charleville and Fermoy clashed in the semi final. This semi-final was played in Kildorrery. It was a very low scoring game with Charleville coming out on top by 1-4 to 1-3.

Charleville were now through to the championship decider that was a repeat of the Division 1 FL final against reigning champions Buttevant. This JAFC final was played in Doneraile. Buttevant looked impressive early on when ahead 0-5 to 0-2 after just 10 minutes.

Gradually Charleville backs got to terms and their attack showed great pace. They had two quick-fire goals, the first when Danny Flynn placed Conor Buckley and the second by Danny O'Flynn. At the break the sides were level 2-3 to 0-9.

On the resumption Jack Buckley had a goal. Goals by Jack Callaghan and Jack Buckley put the Rathluirc side well ahead. They finished very strong with seven points by Mark Kavanagh (5) Jack Barry and 'man of the match' Danny O'Flynn as they took their first ever JAFC title on a 4-14 to 1-12 scoreline.

Charleville footballers in Junior A and Under 21 B were coached by Patrick Donnelly (Drom- Broadford) with P J O'Halloran, Rory Herbert and Mossie Fitzgibbon as selectors.

In round 1 County JAFC Charleville faced Dromtarriffe in Mallow with the Duhallow side winning by 1-13 to 0- 9. Dromtarriffe went on to claim county honours and they reached the Munster final where they lost by a point to Beaufort after extra time.

In hurling Charleville competed in Division 2 HL and JBHC (2) along with Premier Under 21 and County Premier IHC. In the Diviusion 2 HL they played seven games before reaching the semi final where they lost out to Killavullen by 2-18 to 2-15.

The JBHC (2) side were in a round robin championship with Mallow and Newtown. Charleville defeated Newtown by 2-23 to 3-7, but lost out to Mallow for the second year in-a-row by a point 1-11 to 1-10.

In the County Premier Under 21 HC Charleville had a round 1 win over Duhallow in August by 3-16 to 1-10. There was a long break due to the County Premier IHC. Their next game in the Under 21 HC was against Fr O'Neills on November 25. O'Neills emerged winners by 1-19 to 0-16.

In the County IHL Charleville competed in Division 1 grade. They played eleven games won five, lost four and drew two. They finished in mid table. In the County Premier IHC Charleville had six games.

The first four of these matches were all played in Avondhu. Their first match was in Kildorrery where Kilworth provided the opposition. An outstanding display by Darragh Fitzgibbon saw Charleville emerge winners 1-14 to 0-9.

The game in Kildorrery drew a huge following. It was played in wet and windy conditions. Kilworth had the aid of the wind in the first half. They led at the break 1-7 to 0-5.

Darragh Fitzgibbon came very much into the game in the second half. Kilworth had just two points in this half with Charleville doing very well. PJ Copse had a goal that levelled for the fourth time. Charleville dominated and a series of well taken points saw them have five points to spare in the end by 1-14 to 1-9.

Charleville's round 3 game was played in Buttevant against Inniscarra. Inniscarra lost their first round to Courcey Rovers but followed with a Round 2 win over Carrigaline. Inniscarra were seen as a team that may cause problems for Charleville. The game played in Buttevant attracted a fine attendance in early September.

Charleville were on top all through. They led 0-7 to 0-3 after 19 minutes. Further pressure yielded points by Alan Dennehy, Darragh Fitzgibbon and Tim Hawe (2) as they moved 0-11 to 0-5 clear. Good play late in the game by Kevin O'Connor led to a Mark Kavanagh goal as they led at the break 1-13 to 0-5.

There was no way back for Inniscarra on the changeover even though they had four points on the trot. Charleville took control again and points by Darragh Fitzgibbon (3) and Mark Kavanagh opened up a lead 1-17 to 0-10 after 48 minutes.

The Charleville side finished with a well taken goal by Andrew Cagney as they had a fourteen point win in the end by 2-20 to 0-12. Charleville were now through to the county quarter-final.

Their opponents were Fermoy. Fermoy were very much Charleville's bogey side as the Rathluirc side had not beaten them in the past 10 years of County IHC. Fermoy were also a form team having contested the County Premier IHC final of 2016.

Fermoy had won their opening games against Carrigaline and Watergrasshill. This county quarter-final was also played in Buttevant. Fermoy had the aid of the cross wind in the first half.

They were level 0-1 each after five minutes. Charleville moved 0-3 to 0-1 ahead. Points were exchanged in an even first half that had the sides deadlocked at the break 0-6 each.

For the second half Charleville moved Jack Doyle to midfield with Andrew Cagney going to wing forward. Good play early on by Cathal O'Carroll led to a Darragh Fitzgibbon point. Fitzgibbon soloed through and pointed as Charleville led 0-8 to 0-6. Further pressure led to points by Darragh Fitzgibbon and Mark Kavanagh as they moved 0-10 to 0-8 clear after 43 minutes. Fermoy hit the front with a 44th minute goal.

Charleville battled back well. Andrew Cagney levelled and Cian Collins with a long range pointed free gave his side the lead. Charleville had points by Danny O'Flynn and Mark Kavanagh as they moved 0-15 to 1-9 clear. James Kennedy was introduced and within seconds he had a goal that sealed Charleville's place in the county semi-final on a 1-17 to 1-11 scoreline.

All through the season Mallow's form was being closely watched by all involved. They had contested the county finals and semi-finals of the past three or four years. Mallow and Kilworth drew with Kilworth winning the replay by a two point margin.

Kilworth then faced Fr O'Neills in the quarter final marking the fourth game in a row that was played in Avondhu for Charleville. This time the venue was Kilworth. Another huge gathering were present to witness a high scoring contest that Charleville came out on top on a 4-17 to 2-14 scoreline.

O'Neills were slightly fancied and had the aid of the breeze in the opening half. The sides were level 1-7 each in the closing moments with O'Neills with an injury time goal from a penalty holding an interval lead 2-7 to 1-7.

The East Cork side had another point on the resumption. Charleville picked up their game and they were level for the 6th time by the 46th minute 2-9 to 1-12. Darren Butler was outstanding for Charleville all through. They were deadlocked at 2-10 to 1-13 and at 2-13 each for the 8th and last time. Late goals by Darragh Fitzgibbon and Andrew Cagney helped Charleville to a nine point win in the end 4-17 to 2-14.

The county final in Páirc Uí Chaoimh against Courcey Rovers ended all square. Both sides had their moments. Sixteen wides for Charleville over the hour proved a lot. Darragh Fitzgibbon had a goal for the Avondhu side who led 1-4 to 0-4 at the break. By the 46th minute they were deadlocked 1-6 to 0-9 and by the 55th minute at 1-7 to 0-10. Darragh Fitzgibbon and Jack Doyle had late points for Charleville, but Courcey's forced level in injury time on a 1-9 to 0-12 final scoreline.

In the replay another close contest took place with Charleville having a single point win. Light rain fell before the game making conditions greasy. Charleville did well being 0-6 to 0-2 clear after 15 minutes. Their half backs were outstanding.

Courcey Rovers came back strong and they were level 0-6 each coming up to half time. In injury time Jack Callaghan put Jack Doyle in for a good point that had Charleville 0-7 to 0- 6 clear at the break.

Early on the resumption Andrew Cagney and Tim Hawe added points 0-9 to 0-7. The sides were level at 0-9 each. Courcey Rovers had some good points and edged ahead entering the final quarter. Charleville responded. Darragh Fitzgibbon struck four pointed frees with late points by Jack Buckley and Andrew Cagney gave them a one point win 0-15 to 0-14.

Charleville had a very short break before the Munster IHC. Lixnaw, Kerry won the County SHC beating Kilmoyley. Lixnaw had a Munster quarter-final win over Cashel King Cormacs.

The prize at stake was a home Munster semi final against Charleville. Lixnaw wind assisted in the first half opened up with a four point lead after 10 minutes. Good play by Kevin O'Connor led to an opening score by Darragh Fitzgibbon. Kevin O'Connor goaled for Charleville in the 17th minute that levelled 1-3 to 0-6, The Rathluirc side finished the half well and held an interval lead 1-7 to 0- 9.

The sides were deadlocked early in the second half 1-8 to 0-11. Charleville regrouped well with their defence doing very well. Mark Kavanagh pointed three frees and Darragh Fitzgibbon with a 45th minute point gave his side a lead 1-13 to 0-11.

From here to the finish there was no denying Charleville their place in the Munster final as they won out in the end by 1-17 to 0-11.

The Munster final in Pairc na Gael Limerick was another thrilling contest on November 18. Charleville got off to a poor start. The sides were level 0-2 each early on. Feakle had seven points in succession that put them 1-10 to 0-3 clear after 20 minutes.

By half-time the lead was 1-13 to 0-6. Charleville turned in a massive performance in the second half. They had seven points in a 10 minute spell that reduced the lead 1-16 to 0-13. Now well on top the Rathluirc side had four quick wides.

The lead was down to a goal in the 56th minute 1-19 to 0- 19. Andrew Cagney forced the Feakle keeper to make a very good save with Jack Doyle on hand to goal from the rebound 1-19 each.

Extra-time looked very likely. Darragh Fitzgibbon gave Charleville the lead with Feakle levelling in the 62nd minute. A minute later Darren Casey goaled for Charleville who recorded a memorable win by 2-20 to 1-20.

2018 was special for Darragh Fitzgibbon who was awarded an All Star. That was the first All Star to come to the Avondhu Division since Ben O'Connor (their team coach) in 2008.