Charleville 2-20 Feakle 1-20
THIS may well have been the ultimate response by a team that was staring into the abyss at half-time.
Charleville, magnificent Charleville, produced something very special at the Gaelic Grounds yesterday to become the seventh Cork club to reign supreme in the Munster Club IHC.
This was a Houdini act that the great man would have been proud of himself.
At half-time, the Cork champions looked down and out of this incredible game of hurling, 10 points in arrears after being outclassed by a rampant Feakle side in the opening 30 minutes.
It was 1-13 to 0-6 at that juncture and even an eternal optimist would have found it difficult to give Charleville any hope.
But once again, the game of hurling continued to amaze and what followed thereafter was a comeback of gargantuan proportions.
Charleville threw all caution to the wind, they tore into their opponents, they ran at them as only they can do and, slowly but surely, they found themselves back in a contest that earlier on had seemed a lost cause.
Feakle, previously, the dominant force, didn’t realise what was happening and when they did they were unable to save a game that was theirs for the taking 15 minutes earlier.
From being a pale shadow of the side that had ruled on Leeside, Charleville were a transformed outfit, exhibiting a type of character that was a joy to behold.
The defence tightened up completely, Darren Butler in the number two jersey was a majestic figure, so too was Finbarr Cagney, all the backs burst forth.
Danny O’Flynn, left out of the starting 15, came in before half-time to have a major influence on the proceedings, Andrew Cagney slotted over some gigantic points, while another sub, Darren Casey played a huge part too.
And then there was that young man, Darragh Fitzgibbon who, after a quiet opening half, took the game by the scruff of the neck.
He secured some crucial points, took over the role of free-taker and, simply put, he was here, there and everywhere. This was mesmerising stuff to watch as Charleville began one of the great comebacks of this or any other championship.
But first the story of the first-half and Feakle leading by 1-13 to 0-6 at the break.
They were totally superior in that half, the magnificent Oisin Donnellan firing over some sublime points, Gary Guilfoyle too and Shane McGrath missing nothing from the placed ball.
Raymond Bane banged in the goal after eight minutes following a long delivery by centre-back Eoin Tuohy.
It was 1-10 to 0-3 after 20 minutes, Charleville’s paltry return coming from Mark Kavanagh, Darragh Fitzgibbon and Jack Doyle When they returned after the break, Kevin O’Connor rifled over a point and Fitzgibbon followed suit.
And in the opening seven minutes of the half, they had six points on the board.
But Feakle stayed in control with Donnellan and McGrath keeping them a safe distance in front.
But Charleville were motoring now and Andrew Cagney belted over a brace of points.
Charleville had some poor wides too and with 12 minutes remaining it was still a six-point game.
But you had the sense that they finally had Feakle’s measure and when Cagney pointed again in the 55th minute, it was down to a goal.
Feakle keeper Eibhear Quilligan produced a wondrous save from Cagney but Jack Doyle followed up and the sides were level. Fitzgibbon put Charleville ahead with a point in the 59th minute which Donnellan cancelled out.
Extra-time loomed large but in a final twist to a dramatic tale, Darren Casey got in for a winning Charleville goal. It was a Gaelic Grounds fairytale come to life, Feakle were crushed, Charleville went wild.
It was a Winter Wonderland on the Ennis Road. A day for the ages for a gallant band of men from Charleville.
Scorers for Charleville: D Fitzgibbon 0-9 (0-3 f, 0-1 65), J Doyle, D Casey 1-1 each, M Kavanagh (0-1 f), K O’Connor 0-2 each, C Buckley, D O’Flynn 0-1 each.
Scorers for Feakle: S McGrath 0-9 (0-7 f), O Donnellan 0-6, G Guilfoyle 0-3, R Bane 1-0, S Conway, M Daly 0-1 each.
CHARLEVILLE: C Collins; D Butler, J Meade, F Cagney; A Dennehy, J Buckley, C Carroll; J O’Callaghan, K O’Connor; D Fitzgibbon, J Doyle, M Kavanagh; C Buckley, A Cagney, T Hawe.
Subs: D Casey for Kavanagh, D O’Flynn for Hawe (both 26); G Hanrahan for S Conway (51).
FEAKLE: E Quilligan; J Nelson, E McMahon, J Noonan; E Conway, E Tuohy, K Bane; S McGrath, C Smyth; O Donnellan, E Noonan, S Conway; R Bane, M Daly, G Guilfoyle.
Subs: A McMahon for E Noonan (56); C Naughton for R Bane (60).
Referee: K Jordan (Tipperary).