Never say die attitude and luck win out for Charlestown

Connacht Senior Football Championship Semi-Final

Charlestown 1-9

Castlerea, St Kevin's 0-11

(AET )

The smallest of margins is what can make people heros, and on Sunday in Kiltoom it was the smallest of margins, the width of the post to be exact which stopped Seamus Stenson from becoming a hero for the Roscommon champions. Charlestown were chasing the game in injury time trailing by a point, Castlerea wrestled the ball off the Charlestown attack and launched the ball high and long towards the Charlestown 14 yard line. John Casey came from his line to try and clear the ball, his punch barely connected with the ball which fell into the lap of Castlerea substitute Stenson. He shaped and shot goal-wards for the sensible option of a point which would have killed the game dead, instead of going for glory and lashing it towards an empty net from 25 yards out. But luck was not on his side, the ball came back off the right hand post into the grateful arms of Daragh McMeel, who broke out of his line past the body of Casey who was lying injured on the ground after challenging for the ball and had to be replaced shortly after. It was quickly recycled upfield passing by another casualty of the war of attrition which had taken over the second half, David Tiernan who was also lying on the deck and would play no further part in the game, up to Mark Caffrey on to Aidan Higgins and then finally to Tony Mulligan who clipped the ball over the bar from close range to level it up just before the final whistle.

It was brutal, it was beautiful and in some phases down right crazy but anyone who was in Kiltoom on Sunday left knowing they had seen a real game of championship football, one in which every man who went out onto the field did their all for the town, their parish, their friends and family and left everything they had on the field when the final whistle was blown. The game was played a a frantic pace and there were long periods where one side took over and the others couldn't buy a score, while it wasn't a totally pure game of football, it did contain pleanty off off the ball niggle and squaring up, but it was real championship football, full of excitement and entertainment from the first second to last.

Castlerea burst out of the blocks with two quick points a free from Gerard Heneghan and the other a beauty of an effort from Enda Kenny inside two minutes, but their initial warning shot was eclipsed by Charlestown's first score of the game. Richie Haran played in Paul Mulligan who drove diagonal ball into the arms of Ollie Conway who held off his man and lashed it to the back of the net. Two minutes in and both sides had set out their stalls. Conway added on another point three minutes later after Hingham had just leveled the game up with a nice score following some neat built up. The game was played a breakneck speed in the opening stages and and everyone looked like they would get their monies worth for paying into the game. Haran and Tom Parsons kicked two scores for Charlestown, as they exchanged points with St Kevin's pair Heneghan (twice ) and Sean Ryan to leave it 1-3 to 0-6 at the break. One of Heneghan's points came from a 45 after David Caffrey pulled off a great block from a shot y Enda Kenny which looked like it was going to burst the net. Castlerea did get the ball in the back of the net through David Schaill on 22 minutes, but he was called back as the referee had already blown for the free in rather than give the attacking side the advantage.

The second half saw Castlerea start the game like men possessed and they went at Charlestown from the off, they had three more points on the board inside nine minutes while Charlestown looked all at sea, Ger Heneghan twice from free's and Seamus Heneghan were the scores, but they kicked five wides which would eventually come back to haunt them, as they went from the 39th minute until the 74th with out scoring. Castlerea were completely on top until the 50th minute as Charlestown struggled to get out of their half, but they were patient and when Tony Mulligan grabbed a point with six minutes to go, the game was still there for them. With a minute left in normal time, Paul Mulligan showed nerves of steel to curl the ball over the bar from a free out near the left hand touch line with the aid of the post and it was down to a one point game and the next time a post would come into play, it was to be the first assist in Charlestown's leveling score.

While Castlerea were the side who went for the jugular in the second half, Charlestown did it in the opening half of extra time and they rattled off three points in the first extra period through Paul Mulligan from a placed ball, Tony Mulligan who could have grabbed a goal when he flashed a chance over the bar and Tom Parson's who put in a epic display in the middle of field. But this game still had pleanty twists and turns left in it. Nigel Dinneen went into full forward for Castlerea and caused havoc, he banged over a point n the 74th minute, then sub Gerard Coyne cut the gap to one. Both sides were giving everything they had left in the tank as the clock counted down, with one minute to go Seamus Heneghan meandered past two tired Charlestown challenges and looked to be making progress towards a shooting chance, until Kevin Deignan got an hand in to knock the ball out of his hands and pick up the loose ball and clear and with it went Castlerea's last chance.

Charlestown: John Casey; Enda Casey, Daragh McMeel, David Caffrey; Dermot Higgins, Aidan Higgins, Colme Maye; David Tiernan, Tom Parsons; Richard Haran, Mark Caffrey, Paul Mulligan; Brian O'Connell, Tony Mulligan, Ollie Conway. Subs: Kevin Duignan for Colm Maye (40 mins ), Martin Mulvaney for Brian O'Connell (46 min ), Eoin Gallagher for Ollie Conway (57 mins ), Sean Morris for David Tiernan (61 ), David Sloyan for John Casey (FT ), Sean Lenehan for David Caffrey (73 mins ), Michael Dively for Richard Haran (77 mins, blood sub )

Castlerea, St Kevin's: Geoffrey Claffey; Padraic Duignan, Neil Collins, Gareth McElhone; Dermot Lyons, Cathal Dinneen, Eddie Creaton; Michael Killilea, Enda Kenny; Sean Ryan, Nigel Dinneen, Seamus Heneghan; Roana Curran, David Scahill, Gerard Heneghan. Subs: Noel Curran for Neil Collins (26 mins ), Seamus Stenson for Ronan Curran (58 mins ), John Duggan for Enda Kenny (70 mins ), Michael Sweeney for Dermot Lyons (70 mins ), Bernard Carty for Sean Ryan (71 mins ),

Ref:E O'Grady (Leitrim )


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