A step too far for Charlestown

It was utter heartbreak for Charlestown LGFA as they were beaten in the All-Ireland intermediate semi-final by Longford Slashers on a score line of 1-11 to 0-10.

News broke as we arrived in Longford for the game that star defender Elaine O Donnell had gone over on her ankle in the warmup and had to be stretchered off the field. It was a cruel blow for one of the team’s inspirational players and although she took her place for the start of the game you could see she was carrying her leg throughout and wasn't comfortable.

It was well flagged in the build-up that Charlestown were entering the unknown against the Leinster champions but one thing they were aware of is that Longford Slashers had won the four previous Longford senior titles and defeated Meath champions Skyrne in the Leinster final which meant they had to be more than half decent.

Many wondered how senior champions from certain counties could play at intermediate level? I had correspondence from Jackie Cahill, communications manager for the LGFA who informed me that as a county- Longford are graded at intermediate level and therefore their senior champions play Intermediate and their intermediate champions play junior at Provincial and All-Ireland level which is the case in so many of the so called weaker counties who couldn't compete with the big hitters of the modern game.

An interesting knock on of this is that if Longford Slashers win the All-Ireland intermediate title will they still be allowed to play intermediate next year at this level and go on and defend their title? Or will they be made compete at senior level in the Provincial championship.

I was literally just informed before this article went to print that Longford will have to play at Senior level next year after winning the Provincial title. All of our uncertainty about the quality of Charlestown's opposition was well and truly realised straight from the throw in as Longford wing back Orla Nevin raced from her position to gather possession from the throw in from her midfielder Aoife o Brien before racing the length of the field at full tilt to score the opening point in the first few seconds of the game.

Charlestown only went in at half time two points in arrears on a score line of 0-7 to 0-5 but it could have been much worse. At 0-7 to 0-2 down Longford missed a glorious goal chance when their captain tried to lob Charlestown keeper Julia Gawalkiewicz but the ball trickled narrowly wide. Again as was the case in most matches Charlestown full forward Deirdre Doherty brought the fight to Longford scoring all ten of her teams points, five in the first half and five in the second half and this was all the while again being double marked.

In her last four games she has scored an astonishing 5-29 for her team. Charlestown battled bravely but couldn't gain parity with their opponents. The killer goal coming in the second half when Longford corner forward Kate Shannon drove the ball to the Charlestown net.

The spread of scorers in the Longford team, six players in total scored for Longford and the over reliance on Deirdre Doherty for Charlestown proved decisive, along with the two yellow cards issued to Charlestown players Ella Brennan and Katie Gavin at a critical time during the second half which left Charlestown playing with 13 players at one stage. The referee made a few strange calls like that throughout the contest, another was when he yellow carded Longford’s best player, centre forward Grace Shannon who won some crucial possession from her own kick outs when her team were under the cosh in that second half.

All in all our girls can be extremely proud of their achievements as they brought some great joy and a real fell good factor to our community for the last few months.

On the move

My inclination regarding Oisin Mullin proved to be correct as news emerged late last Thursday night that he had signed for the Geelong Cats. By all accounts Geelong never gave up the chase on Mullin after failing to get their man earlier this year because of Covid and were in constant contact with him throughout the year.

He will be a big loss to Mayo but all we can do is wish him the best of luck and leave the door open for him in case things don't work out Down Under.

Mayo started their panel team training on the paddock this week under our new management.

It will be interesting to hear how that is embraced. I can only imagine it will be intense with lots of players old and new having points to prove.

There was an interesting article on the GAA.ie website during the week where Galway manager Padraig Joyce laid bare and gave a full run down and update on his squad. He went into detail about new players in, older players returning and the status of his injured players and their expected recovery time. It was refreshing to read it as its saves Galway supporters second guessing and the rumour mill going into overdrive about players as has happened in Mayo several times down the years. Ian Burke and Peter Cooke will be two huge additions to the Galway squad for 2023.


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