Charlestown Sarsfields , the reigning county under-21 B champions suffered a surprising reverse in the group stages of the 2019 championship when they were turned over by Ardnaree in what was a repeat of the 2018 final but with the Ardnaree version of the Sarsfields turning the tables on the green and white as they emerged on the right side of a 3-14 to 2-13 scoreline in what was a cracking encounter played at a terrific tempo and intensity.
This was a pulsating contest from start to finish with both teams going at it gung ho from the throw-in. The green and white had their spells of control and edged in front 1-1 to 0-3 with Rurai Cullen the man in form as he bagged the first two Sarsfields scores. The home side responded with a major of their own however and this put them two clear with just ten minutes gone on the clock.
Charlestown fired back however and hit four of the next five points to stay very much in touch with Paul Towey clocking two from play while Jack Mahon slotted over two frees to leave the game nicely poised at 1-6 to 1-5 in favour of Ardnaree as the game continued to ebb and flow with both attacks moving with menacing intent.
The home side moved up a gear in latter stages of first half as they banged over four successive points to put them four clear and leave them in a real position of control as they led 1-10 to 1-6 at the break with the green and white floundering somewhat as they lost their bearings and found it difficult to contain a free flowing, slick Ardnaree attack.
The green and white needed good start to the second half to refloat their challenge and this duly happened as they took complete control in the middle sector with Paddy Goldrick and Matt Lenehan very much to the fore with the East Mayo side hitting a sparkling 1-5 without reply as Goldrick and Lenehan fired over four magnificent points to haul the Sarsfields level with Ardnaree in all manner of difficulty as they struggled to curb the growing influence of the Goldrick, Lenehan, Towey triumvirate .The green and white bandwagon was given further impetus minutes later when Paul Towey goaled to ease them three clear and they looked set for victor when a rampant Matt Lenehan kicked his second point from play in as many minutes to complete a remarkable turnaround as they led 2-11 to 1-10 with Ardnaree still to open their account in the second half.
The green and white played some dazzling stuff but were rocked back on their heels somewhat when the home side scored a goal against the run of play to steady their ailing ship which had been taking in some water since the interval. Goldrick responded for Charlestown with another memorable point to leave them 2-12 to 2-10 ahead with thirteen minutes left to play.The Sarfields were still holding sway in all the major facets of play but the complexion was to change completely over the course of the last ten minutes as Ardnaree blitzkrieged the Sarsfields with a scoring burst of 1-4 which was sudden and extraordinary in the same breath. Everything they kicked either went under or over the bar with the green and white completely bewildered at what was unfolding before their eyes.
They had little or no time to recover with a late consolation point from all they could muster in reply to the Ardnaree blitz.
The green and white were left scratching their heads in disbelief at the final whistle as to how they ceded control of a game that looked theirs for the taking with ten minutes to go. A harsh lesson for these young men to take on board but hats off to both teams who served up a terrific spectacle which had everyone captivated from the very first kick.
The Sarsfields had good performances from Eoghan Beirne, Conor O`Donoghue and Ben Conway in defence. Paddy Goldrick illuminated the game with several majestic moments which included scoring four outstanding points from play while in attack Paul Towey and Matt Lenehan were superb as they wreaked havoc with an Ardnaree defence that coud never get a handle on them at any stage in the game. Honourable mention to Ciaran Honeyman, Rurai Cullen and Jack Mahon who contributed well but it as the last quarter fadeout that cost the green and white and dear and leaves them in a right to scrap to secure qualification from the group.