Blistering pace and skill are the hallmarks of Ben O'Connor's Charleville side

Blistering pace and skill are the hallmarks of Ben O'Connor's Charleville side
Bully Dunne, Fr O’Neill's, putting pressure on Darren Butler, Charleville. Picture: Dan Linehan

THEY say across a season in sport it’s not a sprint it’s a marathon.

That’s certainly Ben O’Connor’s philosophy as Charleville coach, though a bit of blistering pace doesn’t go astray either as he showed himself in his pomp with Cork and Newtown.

Charleville had the legs in the latter stages of Saturday’s PIHC semi-final against Fr O’Neill’s in Kilworth, turning a two-point lead in the 57th minute into a 4-17 to 2-14 victory and a place in the final against Valleys or Courceys.

“These lads have great bottle. They dug in with 14 men against Fermoy. I know earlier on in the year they were asking me ‘are we training for a marathon or to play hurling’ but if you can’t move you can’t play. They all have the hurling, so what’s the difference to get you to a county final?

“This is the highest they’ve come but we’ve to finish the job. We’ve to keep the heads level because we came up here expecting to win. But if we’re beaten in the final we’ll only be after winning four matches and then losing the important one.”

O’Connor kept a low profile in recent years until he took up the offer to get involved with Charleville who have no shortage of talent in Darragh Fitzgibbon, Alan Dennehy, Andrew Cagney and Danny O’Flynn, who unfortunately suffered a broken hand last weekend.

Danny O’Flynn broke his hand last weekend. Picture: Dan Linehan
Danny O’Flynn broke his hand last weekend. Picture: Dan Linehan

“It’s the best kick I’ve got in a long time. I didn’t go to too many matches after finishing playing bar a few Munster finals but when I was asked I took a week to think about it and it floated my boat. It’s five minutes in the road and I think they’re a good bunch.

“They’re mad for road so even if we were disappointed last year, we’ve picked it up again.”

John Moloney is the manager, with Tony McAuliffe a selector. Moloney believes the groundwork of the past decade, which included silverware at junior and intermediate and underage progress, is now paying off.

“We’d an U16 team that lost a county final to Duhallow and then won the minor two years later. We knew we’d talent coming. Johnny Collins brought a lot of lads up along and we’ve held onto them, winning a couple of U21 North Cork titles.

“Winning keeps the thing going. Even winning our first North Cork football championship a few weeks ago was a big result for us.

“Our U16s are going well. Our U12s as well. In towns we need success more than country places to keep lads interested in hurling. Darragh gives us a bit of profile but the likes of Alan Dennehy and Jack O’Callaghan were in with the Cork minors too.”

Darragh Fitzgibbon in action at full pace. Picture: Dan Linehan
Darragh Fitzgibbon in action at full pace. Picture: Dan Linehan

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