CHARLEVILLE’S demolition job on Na Piarsaigh last Saturday afternoon in Mourneabbey lifted the gloom and the pressure that appeared to be surrounding the hurling faithful in North Cork in recent weeks.
After a campaign that failed to deliver much for the Avondhu club in the way of positive results, the men in red left the pitch on Saturday to a chorus of cheers knowing that they had defied the odds and retained their status as one of the top sides in Cork county for another year.
Charleville manager, and former Limerick great Mark Foley, was obviously relieved that his side has stayed up in the Premier Senior tier and delighted with the manner of the victory on what was always likely to be a nervy day.
“Relief, that is the most dominant emotion right now.
“This was obviously a position we didn’t want to find ourselves in. I think considering the group we were in we performed well throughout the campaign but just didn’t get the rewards."
Charleville may well have found themselves in a dogfight for survival but Foley is adamant that the current championship format is a real winner.
“I have to say it is a fantastic championship, particularly for the neutrals looking in on the last day but for us we feel we got very, very tough draws over the last two years and this year ended up in the relegation final.
“I think our performances this year suggest that we did enough to stay up and we feel we are worth a lot more than just that. I am just delighted we got over the line. It would have been catastrophic for us after the efforts we put in this year if we had gone down.”
The competitiveness of the current championship format is key to its success and Foley knows that there are no easy ties if a club want to stay eating at the top table.
“Of course, there is no easy group. You look at us and Na Piarsaigh and we were both relatively competitive in our groups and we end up in this game, you get to see just how challenging this grade is.
“In our group, we have the favourites, Sarsfields, Blackrock and St Finbarr’s, probably three of the top five in Cork and what I see now is that Charleville aren’t too far off those sides.
"That is the level we can play at and that is the level we want to play at.
“We put in some great performances this year, perhaps not good enough to win the games but definitely up there. That is our challenge going forward.
"We must learn how to get over the line. We are not far away from making the breakthrough."
“Today we got off to a great start, which was important as favourites.
"We needed to take a bit of the sting out of Na Piarsaigh. That was important for us as we knew they would have that fighting spirit required if this one went down the stretch but thankfully from our point of view it didn’t come to that and we were relatively comfortable near the end.”