It was a case of lights, camera and action in McHale Park on Sunday. Four minutes into the second half, the new floodlights in the redeveloped ground blazed into life and with it so did the game. There was nothing certain in the contest until three and half minutes into injury time when Kevin O’Neill dropped a free kick deep into the Charlestown area, as Knockmore frantically tried to search for a goal to save the game. The ball broke off a rash of hands into the arms of Charlestown’s captain Aidan Higgins who broke towards the stand and launched it high towards the mass of Charlestown supporters as John Hughes blew the final whistle.
After two years of heartbreak in the final, the east Mayo men were finally able to claim their third county championship and set off a winter of celebrations in the border town.
While every player on the field gave their all on the day, no one gave more than veteran Charlestown midfielder David ‘Ginger’ Tiernan who picked up the man of the match award for his tireless display in the middle of the park. Tiernan was where ever his side needed him to be, getting stuck in or offering an option for an out ball he was all things to his side on a historic day for the club. His display was capped 19 minutes into the second half when he picked up the ball on the left hand side of the field fifty yards out from goal, broke forward ten yards and launched a rousing left footed shot from 40 yards out to put his side back into the lead in the game which they never gave up again.
Still it could have been different as on 45 minutes, Tiernan and Knockmore’s marquee player Kevin O’Neill both picked up yellow cards, when a altercation broke out under the stand which involved a number of players, and on another day both men could have been shown the line. O’Neill should have given his side the perfect start in the game when twenty seconds in a long ball was pumped into him by Gerry Higgins, which O’Neill won well and tuned on the edge of the small square and blasted the ball past John Casey, but his shot cannoned back off the bar and away from danger.
Higgins did open the scoring for the north Mayo men a minute into the game with a fine effort from distance, Richard Haran leveled the game up on six minutes into the game with a free from 21 yards out. Charlestown did have their own goal chance seven minutes into the game Mark Caffrey played a high ball across the goal mouth, Paul Mulligan knocked the ball down into the path of David Tiernan who pulled on the ball deck first time, but Niall Canavan reacted well to push the size five away to safety. The first half was a very tit for tat affair with Charlestown going in at the break leading by 0-4 to 0-3, Haran landed two more points from frees for the eventual champions, with O’Neill chipping in with a free from out on the left and another score from Andrew Keane to complete the Knockmore scoring in the opening half.
Charlestown had seen a lot of the ball in the opening period and really should have had more scores on the board for their dominance.
They came out in the second half and tacked on two more points in quick succession through Paul Mulligan and a Richard Haran effort from play to put three between the sides. But rather than kill off the Knockmore challenge it just spurred the yellow and blue side to fight back, O’Neill clipped over two points from place balls before the 40th minute. Then Craig Reape leveled the game up with a rousing effort, Reape collected the ball from Kevin McLoughlin on the run and drove over a sweet shot which roused a huge reaction from his sides supporters. But Charlestown showed all their expereince from finals over the last couple of years and slowed down the game, and the introduction of Brian O’Connell provided them with an extra option for an out ball and O’Connell played a major part in his sides final push over the line. After Tiernan’s point, they landed efforts from Mark Caffrey and Paul Mulligan sealed the win despite Knockmore’s best efforts.
Charlestown: J Casey; E Casey, D McMeel, D Caffery; C Maye, A Higgins, D Higgins; G Tiernan, T Parsons; R Haran, M Caffrey, P Mulligan; M Mulvaney, T Mulligan, O Conway. Subs: K Deignan, B O’Connell,
Knockmore: N Canavan; J Brogan, S McHale, T Howley; C Reape, D Sweeney, K Langan; P Clarke, S Sweeney; A Stadler, G Higgins, A Keane, G Gaughan, K O’Neill, K McLoughlin. Subs: B Ruttledge, D Reape,
Ref: John Hughes (Kilmaine )