Charlestown played host to Ballaghaderren in the hotly anticipated East Mayo U16 “A” semi-final last evening at a dry and overcast Fr. O’Hara Park. It was a close and tense affair in the first half but the scoring power and work-rate of the home side stood out in the second half as they raced for the finish line.
The game started off at a frantic pace and although the Sarsfields never fully got into their stride in the first 30 minutes, they were always neck and neck with their opponents. The opening quarter saw scores traded and after 15 minutes, the sides were level, 1:2 apiece; this would be the only time they were inseparable throughout the game. Our scores came from the boots of Ruairi Cullen and a well taken goal by Jack Mahon following some fine set up play involving Ben Crean and Martin McCormack.
As the half neared its conclusion the men in green and white began to grow into the game but missed a number of scoring chances through indecision and poor shooting. When Honeyman stuck away a fisted goal minutes from the small whistle, it looked as if the home side would pull away at this juncture. However, the visitors raced up the field and converted a major of their own to leave Charlestown leading by just two points at the break, 2:06 – 2:04.
The Sarsfields started far stronger upon the resumption and scores from Cullen, Mahon and Crean meant that the game was starting to tip in the balance of the green and white. The defence was coolness personified and limited the opposition to just four points in the second half with Brendan McCormack, Luke O’Donohue and Marty Beirne particularly eye catching in the last line of defence. The half back line of David Doherty and Niall Drudy won the majority of their defence duels and also attacked with vigour, giving Charlestown plenty of options when in possession. Darragh Casey had also moved out around the middle at this stage and nullified any threat that came his way while also fielding well with Mahon and captain Ben Conway.
As the game ticked into the final quarter, a Ballaghaderren midfielder was sent off for a second bookable offence and the contest was put beyond doubt with eight minutes remaining when a speculative effort from Cullen found its way over the Ballaghaderren keeper and into the net. Charlestown now led by 11, 3:14 – 2:6. Points during this spell came from Martin McCormack and Honeyman with Jack Brennan the architect of the most of Charlestown’s good play at this time. Eoin Goldrick had to be replaced due to injury after giving a solid display, carrying a lot of ball around the middle third. Jack Corley was introduced and gave a powerful display, breaking forward at every opportunity and kicking a magnificent point in the process. As the game neared its conclusion; Dillon Curry, Micheal Durcan and Tomas Goldrick were introduced and all showed well with Durcan kicking a fine score. With the game in injury time, goalkeeper Niall Fleming produced a magnificent save, knocking the ball away to his left and out of danger. This was coupled with some pinpoint kick-outs that have been a particular highlight of the custodian’s season.
Our lads now march on to the East Mayo “A” Final where they will face Kiltimagh at the Centre of Excellence in Bekan with the game provisionally pencilled in for this Friday evening. Charlestown will be hoping to defend the crown they won at this level two years ago at U14 grade while also looking to add to their County League victory in May of this year. The team also competed manfully in the County “A” Championship, coming up agonisingly short against Belmullet and Knockmore respectively. There is real talent and work-rate in this team and here’s hoping they can get over the line in this weeks final to cap off a memorable season.
Team: Niall Fleming; Brendan McCormack, Darragh Casey, Luke O’Donohue; David Doherty, Niall Drudy, Marty Beirne; Ben Conway, Jack Mahon; Ben Crean, Ruairi Cullen, Eoin Goldrick; Ciaran Honeyman, Martin McCormack, Jack Brennan; Jack Corley, Dillon Curry, Micheal Durcan, Tomas Goldrick, Sean Dunleavy.