Charlestown and Carras must do battle all over again after an astonishing 80 minutes of football in a dreary Breaffy on Bank Holiday Monday last. To say this game was a see-saw affair would be an understatement, as our lads looked comfortable in the second half of both normal and extra-time; only to find themselves searching for an equaliser at the conclusion of both.
The game was slow to kick into life, with the Sarsfields struggling to make any inroads in the initial stages. In contrast, Carras; playing into a stiff breeze, were the imposer in the first 20 minutes and led 1.04 – 0.01 after the first quarter. However, the ‘town came alive towards the end of the half and found three majors in succession to lead 3.02 – 1.05 at half-time. The goals came courtesy of Paul Towey and Jack Mahon, after some good link play involving Patrick Goldrick, Martin McCormack and Ruairi Cullen. Charlestown could consider themselves fortunate to lead by 3 points at half-time having played second fiddle to their opponents for much of the half.
A shake up was needed at half-time as the lads in green and white would play into an ever strengthening wind in the second half. Ciaran Honeyman came into the fray upon the resumption as the Sarsfields changed tact to try to implement their game on the South Mayo team. There was a noticeable improvement form our lads after the interval but this progress was wiped out after just three minutes of the new period, as Carras drew level after a well worked goal that was smashed to the back of the net. The task facing Charlestown now looked ominous as Carras continued to attack and took the lead five minutes into the new half. As has been the case all year however, the Sarsfields were not for turning and displayed fantastic grit and determination to work themselves back into the game. Ben Conway and Goldrick were now winning more than their fair share in the middle and this resulted in more attacking opportunities for our lads which were well converted by Towey, Cullen, Mahon and Ben Crean up front.
As the half progressed, there was a nip-tuck pattern to the play. Although our lads held the advantage form most of the last 20 minutes, there was never more than a score between the teams. The half-back line of David Doherty, Daniel Murphy and Aaron Doherty were to the fore in this period and began to attack with vigour, cutting holes in the Carras defence. The game then took a dramatic turn with five minutes of normal time remianing. Carras won a breaking ball in midfield and worked the ball up the pitch to rattle the net, giving Declan Forkan no chance. At this stage, Carras took the lead for the first time in the second half and appeared to be in the driving seat. This was compounded just 30 seconds later when the Garrymore/Kilmaine amalgamation hurdled up the pitch to find the net once more. At this stage, there looked to be only one winner, Carras led Charlestown 4.08 – 3.07 as the clock neared injury time.
The character and resilience of our lads could not be questioned as the men in green and white took control in all areas for the dying minutes. If they were going to lose, they would leave everything out on the pitch. What followed was an astonishing final 3 minutes. Cormac Bones set off from full-back and set up a fine attack that involved Conway, Goldrick and Mahon as the ball found its way to Honeyman, who rocketed the ball home from 15 metres to leave just the minimum between the sides. The Charlestown crowd grew in voice and cheered the lads on to create one more opportunity and with the game entering injury time. The Sarsfields did just that with another fine move involving Cullen and Towey ending up in the hands of Martin McCormack, who split the posts with a fine score to level the game. That was to be the last action of a pulsating hour and the final whistle went from the resulting kick out. Extra-time would be needed with the sides locked at 4.08 apiece.
Charleston won the toss and elected to play into the breeze for the opening 10 minutes, having been so impressive while in the same position in normal time. Once again, our lads looked strongest during this period and led by the slenderest of margins when a driving Ciaran Honeyman run resulted in him being taken to ground and a penalty being awarded. This would have the green and white four points up going into the final 10 minutes but a well struck ball was fantastically save day the Carras custodian, low to his right.
The final 10 minutes were to be as frantic as those that went before it. Charlestown appeared to be in control and made a dash for the finish line, leading 4.12 – 4.09 with just minutes remaining. Darragh Casey and Brendan McCormack were coolness personified in their corner back berths during this time and made many vital interceptions. However, this game wasn’t finished yet as Carras raised a white flag to reduce the gap to just two points. The final few minutes were riddled with mistakes by both teams, with Charlestown in particular guilty of coughing up possession in the middle and final thirds. These mistakes looked destined to cost the East Mayo men as the Carras full forward struck the cruelest of blows, finding the net with just one minute to play. The cup seemed to be destined for South Mayo in what would have been greatly unjust for a Charlestown team that had dominated in extra-time. Once again, our lads never gave in and made one final foray into the opposition half, knowing this would be their last chance and this persistence payed off, resulting in a 13 metre free that was tapped over by Mahon, leaving the game deadlocked once more, 4.13 – 5.10.
The final whistle went once more meaning these two teams must do it all over again. Charlestown, although making a number of mistakes when in control of the match, never threw in the towel and it was this fighting spirit that got the men in green and white back into the game, when the looked destined to go home as runners-up. The replay date, time and venue is yet to be confirmed, but will more than likely be next weekend. If both teams serve up half as good of a game, it promises to be a cracker!!
Charlestown: Declan Forkan, Darragh Casey, Cormac Bones, Brendan McCormack, David Doherty, Daniel Murphy, Aaron Doherty, Patrick Goldrick, Ben Conway, Martin McCormack, Paul Towey, Ruairi Cullen, Ben Crean, Jack Mahon, Niall Drudy, Ciaran Honeyman, Jack Brennan, Luke O’Donohue, Micheal Durcan, Dylan Marren, Marty Beirne