FOR years they had to look on as near neighbours Newtownshandrum and Ballyhea competed in the top flight of Cork club hurling.
Now Charleville will join them next season after breaking free from the difficult environment of the Premier Intermediate competition.
They earned their crust last Monday in a pulsating final with Courcey Rovers and their Cork star Darragh Fitzgibbon made a huge contribution when the need was at its greatest, nailing four pressure frees in a one-point victory.
“It is an unbelievable feeling really. We have been three years now close to it. We have lost to teams that have gone on and won it and ones that went on to the final.
“I have been with teams in Cork and Charleville and we have struggled to get over the line but today it is just brilliant to get over the final hurdle."
He acknowledged how difficult a game it turned out to be.
“Yes, it was dogged all the way, Courceys are a very well drilled side and you are never going to beat them easily and that showed the last day and again here. They never give up but I think today we got a few lucky breaks and we got the crucial scores at the end and that is what did it for us.
“When Mark (Kavanagh) went off I was shouting over at the line asking what we were doing taking off our free-taker for in a close game but thank God the frees went over for me and we are champions at last.
“We knew what they were about. We saw that the last day.
"We were overwhelming favourites with the bookies but we have been like that for the last couple of years and we never did it so today was just about getting over the line – it was dogged and we won the dogged battle and that is the most pleasing thing of all."
The young Cork star is now looking forward to locking horns with near neighbours Ballyhea and Newtown next season.
“That is unbelievable now. We were a junior club looking at the likes of Newtown in All-Ireland senior and Ballyhea winning the intermediate county in 2014 and going up senior and now it is our turn.
“It is great for all the people that put in time from when we started U8s looking at Newtown and trying to get up to that level and we have made it today.
“We will be playing with the best now. The 15 players on the field will get all the credit but fellows like John Collins, Paudi O’Connell, Mike Keane and so many other names I am leaving out there have put in amazing work behind the scenes since we were eight years of age.
“John Moloney has been with us the whole way up and he was involved with us again today and this is unbelievable for all those people as well.
“It is important for the kids around Charleville. We are a big town and now we have a senior club – we have been looking at the small villages all along and now we will be competing with them and that is just amazing."
He paid tribute too to coach Ben O’Connor.
“Everyone our age grew up idolising Ben and Jerry and what they did. They changed the game, they won All-Irelands for Cork and to have the privilege to work with him and win it for him is unbelievable."
Charleville must go back out next Saturday in the Munster Club Championship, something that the young player is not too happy about.
“To be given just five days to go out and represent your county after winning a county is just crazy really, putting us out on the Monday was just ridiculous but sure we could do nothing about it.
“Again I heard that the county board wanted us to be out playing U21 football on Wednesday night but that is obviously not going to happen now but look we will have to knuckle down now, enjoy tonight and see from there. The main thing is we are up senior."