At the first time of asking, Charlestown made the jump back to the senior championship with a four point win over Burrishoole in McHale Park on Sunday. For their vanquished opponents it was heartbreak for the third year in a row in the final, as they failed at the final juncture to make the break back up to the big time, again.
Finding themselves in the intermediate championship this year after winning the senior title only three years ago was something that no-one in Charlestown could have imagined at the start of last year. But they got drawn into the relegation quagmire and failed to escape it's grasps. So getting straight back up to the senior ranks at the first attempt was always going to be their number one priority and they did just that on Sunday.
While even Charlestown will have sympathy for Colm McManamon and his charges for coming so close once again, the simple fact of the matter on Sunday was that Charlestown deserved their win and the west Mayo men can have no complaints over the 60 minutes.
Denis Kearney's men had a simple tactic that they worked to perfection through out the game, let the ball long into Anthony Mulligan at full forward and look for the ball off him. Mulligan was outstanding in this role and beat the unfortunate Patrick Mulchrone all ends up, before Liam O'Malley was sent back to try and curb his influence late in the day. But by that stage the damage had been done. In midfield, Tom Parsons put in a top drawer display, with a number of eye catching fetches and some smart use of the ball. At the back Aidan Higgins was calm and composed and showed all his experience organisning the Charlestown rearguard that limited the Burrishoole attack to only one point from play over the 60 minutes.
It all started so brightly for Burrishoole, with only two minutes on the clock Michael Moran put them into the lead from a free kick on the stand side of the field. Two minutes later David Keane up from his wing back position doubled their lead. He was picked out with a cross field ball unmarked on the right hand side of the field, before he drove the ball over the bar at the Bacon Factory end of the ground. With five minutes gone on the stop watch, Jason Doherty put his side 0-3 to 0-0 up from a free. The Burrishoole centre-half forward, drove a free from 40 meters out straight over the black spot to nail his first point of the game. But that was as good as it got for the McGovern Park outfit, as they failed to score for the next 29 minutes and in that time their opponents had hit 1-5 without response.
Colm Maye opened the eventual victors account with a point from close range, after Anthony Mulligan pulled the ball form the sky close into goal to set up the chance. Maye doubled his tally on eleven minutes, when a quick one-two from a sideline ball with Gareth O'Donnell created the space Maye needed to put the ball over the bar. Two minutes later that man Maye did it again to pull the game level when he drove a free from the McHale Road side of the ground over the bar.
The game would go another eight minutes before another score was registered and when it came it was the decisive score of the contest. Gareth O'Donnell drove in a free off the ground from the stand side of the field. The shot didn't have the legs required and David Nevin tried to pluck it from the air, but the ball broke away from him and and Joe Owens reacted first to put the ball past Shane Nevin and into the back of the net for the only goal of the game. Maye added on another point from a free after Mulligan once again pulled the ball from the air before being fouled close in and with four minutes left in the half Mulligan was again fouled to allow Gareth O'Donnell the chance to slot over Charlestown's fifth point.
Burrishoole responded by trying to change things up and introduced Shane McDermott and Niall Burke from the bench before the break. Jason Doherty did kick a free in injury time to leave only four points between the sides at the break.
Where the first half was an intriguing game of football, with both sides going for it, the second half never really got off the ground in terms of quality. O'Donnell kicked a free from a point in the 35th minute to leave the score 1-6 to 0-4. But there wasn't another score in the game for the next 12 minutes until Enda McManamon kicked a pointed free from well out the field to cut the gap back to four points. That Burrishoole score, kicked some life back into the Charlestown attack and they responded with a point from Mulligan almost straight after. All Burrishoole could hit back with was another Doherty pointed free with nine minutes left on the watch, and Charlestown ground down the last few minutes to bring the Sweeney cup back to east Mayo with them.
It wasn't a classic, but then finals rarely are with so much resting on the outcome, but Charlestown won't care they've accomplished their mission and even if it was, it wouldn't make the defeat any easier to stomach for the Burrishoole men.
Charlestown: D Sloyan; G McLoughlin, D McMeel, E McLoughlin; A Higgins, D Caffery, D Higgins; T Parsons, E Casey; P Ward, M Caffery, G O'Donnell (0-2, 1f ); J Owens (1-0 ), A Mulligan (0-1 ), C Maye (0-4, 2f ). Subs: R Haran for G O'Donnell (30 mins ), D Tiernan for P Ward (43 mins ), O Conway for J Owens (54 mins ), K Deignan for M Caffery (60 mins )
Burrishoole: S Nevin; D Nevin, P Mulchrone, D Drumm; D Keane (0-1 ), L O'Malley, A Moran; P Holmes, P McManamon; P Mulchrone, J Doherty (0-3, 3f ), M Moran (0-1, 1f ); E McManamon (0-1 ), D Keane, G Chambers. Subs: S McDermott for A Moran(29 mins ), N Burke for G Chambers (29 mins ), J Staunton for D Keane (46 mins ), A Ryder for P Holmes (55 mins ), F Hughes for M Moran (60 mins )