A very noteworthy Minor tournament involving several clubs took place at the Connacht Centre of Excellence, Bekan recently. The tournament was named in honour of the late Dolores Horkan who was a very passionate Charlestown Sarsfields supporter and seldom if ever missed a game that the Sarsfields were involved in be it at underage or adult level. She loved her football and was green and white to the core and her sudden death in 2001 came as a great blow to her family and the Sarsfields club as a whole as it robbed us of a true lady and a very genuine and faithful supporter. The Sarsfields minor team spearheaded by their manager Gareth O`Donnell decided to organise a competition involving several minor teams in East Mayo and together with the help of East Mayo Board Secretary Mary Prenty the tournament was created and played over a seven day window. Aghamore and Swinford contested the shield final which Aghamore won pretty decisively and this left the way clear for Charlestown and Eastern Gaels to go head to head for the prestige of winning the inaugural Dolores Horkan Memorial Shield.
It was fitting that the Sarsfields should contest the final and no doubt Dolores was nodding in approval from her lofty perch in the sky. It was a final worthy of her memory as the two teams served up a riveting contest with the outcome in doubt right up until the final whistle. The Sarsfields were somewhat depleted in their make-up shorn of the likes of Jack Corley, Thomas Goldrick and Niall Fleming all of whom were part of the Mayo East/West Ted Webb Cup team. There was a great crowd in attendance with both sets of supporters really getting behind their respective teams as the game was played at a frenetic pace throughout. The Sarsfields held the whip hand for most of the first half and looked dangerous in the final third with Jack Mahon, Ciaran Honeyman, Rurai Cullen and Ben Crean all getting on the scoreboard and looking a real threat when in possession . The Gaels despite being under the cosh for large swathes of the first half never dropped their heads and they too boasted a considerable attacking presence and managed to keep pace with the Sarsfields and found themselves three points in arrears at half-time with the green and white shading it as they led 1-8 to 1-5.
The second half was a real rip roaring affair as the Gaels cranked up the pressure and wrestled control away from the Sarsfields. They were brave and courageous in defence and took control at midfield as they made several outstanding marks which deprived the Sarsfields of primary, precious possession. The Sarsfields fell away from it so to speak as they struggled to contain the intensity the Gaels brought to the battle. The Gaels second goal saw them hit the front for the first time as the Sarsfields realised they were now knee deep in a scrap that their opponents were not backing away from. The green and white became anxious and nervous in their play as passes were misplaced and shots were miscued and all of this fed into the Gaels confidence levels which surged with every passing minute and Sarsfields mistake. The Gaels were five points clear with six minutes left on the clock with their third goal putting them in a real position of dominance and ascendancy. The Sarsfields were in a real stupor as they were finding it hard to hit the target with several gilt edged chances going a begging as they became somewhat desperate in their shooting. They got a break three minutes from time when Jack Mahon goaled from close range to give them some semblance of hope with time very much the enemy at this stage. Mahon pointed from a free from the resultant kick-out to reduce the margin to one as the Gaels started to wobble with the finishing line in sight. The next passage of play was going to be crucial to the final outcome and it was the Gaels who secured vital possession which they worked well through the hands as they created the space and time to have one final shot at the Sarsfields post and the roar which greeted it as it sailed high and handsome over the black spot ignited wild and jubilant celebrations among their large contingent of supporters as that was more or less the final play of what was a gripping encounter that held a captive audience enthralled throughout. The final scoreline read 3-10 to 2-11 in favour of the Gaels with the game a super advert for the minor grade and football in East Mayo as a whole.
Colm Horkan son of the late Dolores presented the cup to the victorious Eastern Gaels captain Ethan Owens with Colm commending both teams on a rousing game of football and urging the lads to stay involved in football as they get ready to head away to third level and retain the link to the club and become the backbone of their respective senior teams in the coming years. He also thanked the East Mayo Board for their support and was particularly thankful to Tommy Colleran of Colleran`s Pharmacy in Ballyhaunis for sponsoring the medals, his generosity was very much appreciated by the family. Tommy is, of course, a proud Sarsfields man who enjoyed a decorated career with the green and white both as a player and a manager and he was only too delighted to lend his support to the tournament as he had many dealings with the Horkan family on and off the field. A Great night for the Gaels and for the Sarsfields club too even though the result didn`t go our way and credit to Gareth O`Donnell for coming up with the idea and to the East Mayo Board and the clubs who took part for supporting it.