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Sarsfields Promoted as Champions

Charlestown Sarsfields returned to the top division of senior league football for the 2020 season by virtue of their 0-16 to 0-9 victory over Kiltaine in the final round of division 1 B fixtures played at Fr. OHara Park, Charlestown recently. By defeating Kiltaine they were also crowned champions which was a nice way to round off the season with some silverware due recognition for all the hard work the team, panel and management invested since the end of January last. The game itself was hotly contested from start to finish with Kiltaine bringing their usual mix of aggression and physicality as they were not prepared to roll over as they too were in with a chance of winning the league if they could chisel out a win. The North Mayo men were much the better team for large tracts of the first half with John Reilly in the middle of the park commanding the sky with some terrific fielding. They raced into a three point lead and could and should have been further ahead but for some wastefulness in front of goal with the Sarsfields struggling to generate any forward impetus or momentum as Kiltaine had them pinned into their own half for much of the opening twenty minutes. The Sarsfields finally opened their account in the sixteenth minute with Colm Maye popping over a routine free. The wheel started to turn in the green and whites favour from that point as Paul Towey came alive and kicked a great score from distance. Kiltaine landed one of their own minutes later to leave them 0-4 to 0-2 ahead with twenty three minutes gone in a first half that saw lots of turnovers and misplaced passes with both teams also registering plenty of wides from good scorable positions.
The Sarsfields were beginning to find their range as Towey and Paddy Goldrick kicked two super points from play with Colm Maye also proving ultra reliable from placed balls as he landed two more points from the land to give the Sarsfields a rather flattering 0-6 to 0-5 half-time lead as they played second fiddle to the Erris men for most of the opening period. One had the feeling that Kiltaine were going to regret their big wide count as chances went abegging at an alarming rate most of them from close range too.
The Sarsfields began the second half in a much more authoritative manner with the arrival of Matt Lenehan on to the field of play proving pivotal to the Sarsfields . The green and white gradually assumed control with Lenehan at the hub of the Sarsfields drive for victory as he clipped over two excellent points with Colm Maye and Ryan Duffy adding two more to put real daylight between the teams for the first time.
Kiltaine hardly helped their cause as they indulged in a spot of self-implosion with two men sent off in the opening ten minutes both of which were result of some foolish acts of indisciplne.
The game looked done and dusted with the Sarsfields five clear and having the added advantage of two extra men. Incredibly however, the North Mayo men doubled down and threw everything at the Sarsfields in an extraordinary ten minute period in the second half. They hit three points on the spin and took complete control of the middle third with the Sarsfields all over the place in terms of their shape and structure.
The word GUBU comes to mind to sum up this phase in play as Kiltane belied their lack of manpower and tore into the green and white with manic like aggression. Their comeback looked complete when they were awarded a penalty following a scramble for possession in front of the Sarsfields goal with referee John Glavey pointing to the spot. To the Sarsfields utter relief keeper Kenneth Brennan dived to his right and expertly diverted the ball out for a forty five to maintain the tenuous Sarsfields lead.
The Sarfields were spurred into action on the back of their lucky escape and Lenehan again proved to be the man as he hit his third point from play with Niall Murphy, Conor ODonoghue and Joe McBrien adding three successive scores to finally put paid to Kiltaines gallant challenge.
Aidan Hopkins hit the Sarsfields final score from play to round off an eventful second half with the man in the middle John Glavey handing out more cards of all colours with Kiltaine finishing the game with twelve men with the Sarsfields also reduced to fourteen near the end.
It wasnt the Sarsfields best or most fluent performance by any means but they did enough to get the job done albeit in a somewhat laboured fashion. The McLoughlin brothers Gerard and Enda were solid in defence with Conor ODonoghue, Colm Maye also showing up well and contributing to the scoreboard. Gareth O`Donnell had a good hour in the middle and worked tirelessly throughout with Paddy Goldrick, Ryan Duffy, Matt Lenehan, Paul Towey all the pick of the rest as they enjoyed some fine solo moments with Matt Lenehan outstanding in the second half.
Honourable mention to Kenneth Brennan who made a superb penalty save at a crucial time in the second half with county star Thomas Parsons also getting a great ovation on his introduction near the end.
It was a special day for that great Sarsfields warrior Aidan Higgins who completed his twenty fifth year as a senior player for the Sarsfields and won his fifth senior league medal his first coming all the way back in 1995 which speaks volumes for his fitness, commitment and durability.
Well done to Martin Mulvaney and his management team of Richard Wynne, Thomas Horan and Phillip Finn who got a great tune out of the lads all year and had them in fine physical shape which saw them win eight of their ten league games which was enough to win the title outright.
The next step for Martin and his team is to have squad primed for the step up in class at division one level next season as he continues to blood new players and make a real fist of qualifying from the group stages of the championship and target a quarter-final which is something the Sarsfields have not achieved since 2014.

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