Charlestown Sarsfields suffered a harrowing 1-11 to 2-7 defeat at the hands of Westport in round one of the Division One county minor championship played in Castlebar recently.
The Sarsfields were far from at full strength missing their talisman Jack Mahon who was unable to line out from the start due to injury although he did make an appearance midway through the second half . Key defender Darragh Casey was also sidelined due to injury and he was sorely missed as the defence were under the pump with a slick Westport attack carrying plenty of menace and attacking threat about them.
The game was played at a fair lick with both teams enjoying their periods in the ascendency. The Sarsfields looked to have turned the screw when Ruarai Cullen goaled midway through the first half but Westport were not to be found wanting and they responded well to leave the game very much alive with the Sarsfields holding a slim 1-4 to 0-6 half-time lead.
The stakes were high as ball was thrown in for the second half and it was Westport who seized the initiative as they levelled within seconds of the restart. They really laid bare their intent minutes later when they goaled to move three in front as the Sarsfields were struggling to match the covies intensity.
The teams swapped scores over the course of the next ten minutes but the West Mayo lads were still three in front as they led 1-8 to 1-5 and were in no mood to surrender as they made their play for home.
The Sarsfields introduced Jack Mahon into the fray midway through the second half and he made an immediate impact as he blasted the ball to the net to haul the Sarsfields level. Ciaran McCormack pointed from the next play which edged the green and white in front with Wesport reeling from losing their best player to injury.
The stars seemed to be aligning for the Sarsfields but Westport were in no mood to surrender and found inspiration deep from within their vast reservoirs of character and hit three scores on the spin to regain a measure of control as the Sarsfields failed to kick on despite the impact of Mahon`s goal.
The Westport lads played smartly in the final frantic few minutes as the Sarsfields scrambled deperately to cobble together a move that might fashion a goal. As hard as they tried they just couldn`t find the right pass or generate enough pressure to breach the Westport net with a late point all they could muster as Westport held on grimly for a victory that one would have to class as unexpected as the Sarsfields were fancied to get the win under their belts ahead of their clash with Knockmore in game two of the group.
The Sarsfields travel to Knockmore knowing that nothing else only a victory will suffice if they want to maintain their involvement in this year`s championship. It`s a tall order but the presence of the fit again duo Jack Mahon and Darragh Casey will stiffen the side and bolster their challenge considerably.