Fitzgibbon: Winning at senior is a dream for a club like Charleville

Fitzgibbon: Winning at senior is a dream for a club like Charleville
Darragh Fitzgibbon is chased by Stepen Cronin, Erin's Own. Picture: Larry Cummins

DARRAGH FITZGIBBON was the box-office attraction in Páirc Uí Rinn on Saturday evening and lived up to his billing with 14 points as Charleville marked their return to senior with a win over Erin’s Own.

It was a pulsating extra-time battle, with Jack Doyle, Darren Butler, Andrew Cagney and Jack Meade also hugely influential though Fitzgibbon came up with a couple of big moments in the closing minutes. He slotted over 0-5 from play overall, with two of those at the end of extra time to grab the victory.

It was a perfect start to life in the top tier.

“They’ve competed at senior for so long and won counties so coming up playing clubs like Erin’s Own is what you dream of as a youngster,” explained Fitzgibbon.

Darren Butler tries to stop Mark Collins.
Darren Butler tries to stop Mark Collins.

Charleville didn’t let losing the All-Ireland intermediate club final back in February derail their senior preparation.

“It was disappointing the way we lost it, having been ahead, but it was a great journey and the whole town was buzzing. We carried that momentum.

“We’d an Easter camp during the week and the numbers were good and a lot of those U10 and U11 lads had played in Páirc Uí Rinn, Páirc Uí Chaoimh, Thurles and Croke Park as part of our journey. That’s huge for a club.”

Picture: Larry Cummins.
Picture: Larry Cummins.

The All-Star midfielder had a busy year to date but is now eagerly awaiting Cork-Tipp on May 12.

“I was in with UCC for a couple of weeks after the All-Ireland but John Meyler was great to give me a break. It was great to get all the way to Croke Park with your club, that’s another thing you dream of when you’re young, and after this, I’m looking forward to the Munster championship with Cork now.”

For veteran Charleville forward Danny O’Flynn, there’s a hurling gap until later in the summer but he’s confident they’ll cope.

“We won a first Avondhu title last year in the football and we’ve a strong junior hurling team as well so that should keep the summer going for us.

“We’re at a disadvantage (to stay senior as the grade will be reduced to 12 teams) when it’s based on gradings over a few seasons and we don’t have that pedigree. We’d love to get a few years at senior because we’ve a young team but it’s up to us to keep winning matches.”

Saturday was one of many special games he’s played in, having previously fired the club out of the junior ranks.

“It was up and down and extra time always adds a bit of excitement but we’re delighted to win, it’s just huge for us after coming up to senior. There’s novelty to it but we showed in the first half we were able to handle the step up.

“We showed great character in the end but it really could have gone either way.”

Picture: Larry Cummins.
Picture: Larry Cummins.

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