Charleville proud to wave the flag for Cork in the provincial hurling series

Charleville proud to wave the flag for Cork in the provincial hurling series
Darren Butler drives the sliotar up field for Charleville. Picture: Larry Cummins

SO FAR, so very good for the hurlers of Charleville. 

Make that the footballers too as the club’s U21 players secured the B county title last Sunday.

It’s been a season to remember for the North Cork club and win, lose or draw Sunday’s Munster final with Feakle from Clare it won’t end there.

There’s an U21 hurling campaign to play out yet and with 10 of the starting premier intermediate side in that line-up, they are one of the more fancied teams.

The enjoyment levels in the club have reached an unprecedented high and former player and now a vital member of the backroom team, Tony McAuliffe says that there is a buzz in the thriving town not witnessed for many a long day.

“Winning is a good habit, we won the U21 B football county there last Sunday and a load of the hurlers were on that team.

“It is really all systems go at the moment and whilst it is a long season it’s one you just don’t want to end. We set out with one objective and that was to be the best we could in the county premier intermediate hurling championship.

“That was the primary thing for us and we did that." 

Kevin O’Sullivan, Fr O’Neill's, fighting it out with Jack Buckley, Charleville. Picture: Dan Linehan
Kevin O’Sullivan, Fr O’Neill's, fighting it out with Jack Buckley, Charleville. Picture: Dan Linehan

As a result, Charleville are a senior club again for the first time since back in the ‘40s and McAuliffe believes it was hard earned.

“Look, at the start of the season we were under no illusions, we were fully aware of how competitive that championship was. I would say that there was no clear favourite, definitely not and I thought there was up to 10 teams well capable of winning it.

“It’s a very level playing field and you take each game as it comes along. That was our motto and it worked out for us.

“Look at some of the clubs we had to get over, Kilworth, Fr O’Neill’s, Fermoy, no easy games there and then you had a very good Courcey Rovers team in the final.

“We all know how that went, right down to the wire in the replay.’’ 

There was little time for celebration, there was a Munster Club campaign starting up six days later.

“We were up against Lixnaw from Kerry, a real potential banana skin. Hurling in that part of Kerry is very strong and playing away from home presented a big challenge.

“For us it was uncharted territory. We celebrated the Cork title for a couple of days, the Tuesday and Wednesday after the Bank Holiday Monday and we went back in on the Thursday night.“

Ben (O’Connor) had a few words with them and we saw that they were ready. It would have been easy to lay down the tools after achieving the main objective but the players were ready to go again.

’Mention of the former Cork great, Ben O’Connor and McAuliffe believes his input has been crucial.

“These lads grew up with Ben O’Connor as their hero. He was from up the road and he was a player that they all wanted to emulate.

“He’s been great for us. He came in last season and brought in a new style. It took the lads a while to adjust to that, moving the ball quickly with support from everyone.

“I think this year they really adjusted to that style and it has really proved dividends. I thought against Lixnaw we really moved the ball very well, everyone has bought into it and we are delighted.

One of those star players has been new All-Star Darragh Fitzgibbon and McAuliffe has nothing but praise for him.

“First of all, I must say that all the younger lads alongside the more experienced guys are a joy to work with.

“Obviously, Darragh is more high-profile because of the Cork involvement but to us he’s one of our own, one of the lads. Everyone was thrilled for him the night that he got the All-Star. We had that game in Kerry the following day but he came back down so that he could be on the bus with us for that journey.

“A lot of these fellows have been together since they were youngsters, they are friends too off the pitch and we as a club are benefiting.’’

Now there’s one more frontier to cross where the intermediate team is concerned, a Munster final on the Ennis Road on Sunday against what is regarded as a very strong Feakle side.

“We don’t know a whole pile about them but from what we can gather they are a formidable side. They were senior two years ago, then got relegated but bounced back up immediately.

“We have played challenge games against Clare teams and we know that it’s a high standard up there.

Charleville's Cathal O'Carroll is tackled by Courcey Rovers' Jerry O'Neill. Picture: Eddie O'Hare
Charleville's Cathal O'Carroll is tackled by Courcey Rovers' Jerry O'Neill. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

“We know this will probably our toughest game of the season, tougher maybe than the two games with Courcey Rovers in the county final. But, look, we are ready, we have a clean bill of health, Danny Flynn our captain is ready for action again after missing the game with Lixnaw.

“We will travel up to give it our best shot. We’ll have great support again as we have had all season. You might only ever get one shot at a championship like this and we want to bring a Munster title back to Charleville.

“We are representing Cork and very proud to be doing so in a Munster final.’’

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