Match Review - SEMI FINAL REPLAY Junior Champ 07 - Westernpeople 17/10/07

GAA: Islanders title dream stays afloat

By: Michael Gallagher in McHale Park, Castlebar

TF Royal Hotel and Theatre JFC semi-final replay
Achill 0-6 Charlestown 0-5

ONE swing of the boot, one well-directed kick of the ball, one point, one score, one moment of quiet inspiration. That was all that separated Achill and Charlestown after more than two hours of hell-for-leather football.

That single, solitary score was enough to send the islanders into their first county final in twelve years and deny Charlestown a junior final berth to add to their senior one earlier in the season.

The fact that this replay only yielded eleven scores demonstrated that this was a dour, hard-fought, tight battle where nerve endings were never far from the surface.

The final, frantic minutes of this encounter saw play swing up and down the pitch in a welter of excitement and passion. The dream of qualifying for next Sunday's decider was very real for both sides in those final moments but the prospect of defeat and elimination was just as prominent in the minds of all involved.

Achill had started the match like a tornado, tearing into the Charlestown men and popping over points for fun. They had five to their name in the first sixteen minutes and looked like strolling into the final, but they would only add one more point to that tally in the closing 50 minutes.

That scoring drought was hard to fathom given their productivity in the opening quarter. The game was only two minutes old when Colm Cafferkey strode forward from centre-back and drove the leather over the black spot. Michael Daragh Sweeney joined him on the scoreboard seconds later and the men in white and green were buzzing.

Their cause almost received a huge boost in the eighth minute when Donal Corrigan drove a long ball into the Charlestown goal-mouth and Colm English rose and flicked it towards the net, unfortunately for the Achill team captain, the ball smashed off the crossbar and rebounded harm-lessly. That failed to deter the winners however and another point from Cafferkey after good play from Sweeney, put them three clear.

Donal Corrigan landed a long-range effort soon after Donal Gallagher's shot had come back off the post in the 12th minute and Martin English left five between them in the 16th.

Then Charlestown threw off their shackles and decided to play a bit. Sean Morris began to win more than his share in the middle of the pitch and Colm Horkan's use of possession ensured that his colleagues had time and space on the ball. Colm Maye was once again in excellent shooting form and he landed three points before the break but the Sarsfields also spurned a number of chances to close the gap even further as Achill lost most of their early sparkle.

The opening minutes of the second period were hard-fought and scoreless but Maye closed the gap to the minimum with a pointed free after a foul was committed on the lively Joey Owens. Brendan Towey was operating around the centre of the pitch in the second half and he won a lot of possession for the eastern men as they went in search of parity. Unfortunately for the Sarfields representatives it was Achill who dominated territorially for long periods of the second half but their shot selection and attacking combinations left a lot to be desired.

Time after time, scores seemed almost assured only for the point of contact between boot and ball to go astray as nervous tension gripped the protagonists.

In the 42nd minute Sweeney's shot for a point dropped in the goalmouth and David Cattigan grabbed possession before blasting for the net. As the ball traveled through the air, Charlestown's corner back, Rory Gallagher, threw himself through the air and blocked the goalbound effort. Two minutes later Charlestown were handed a gilt-edged goal chance of their own when Owens sent Maye clean through. The wing-forward hit his shot hard and low but agonisingly for Maye, the ball smashed off the butt of the goalpost and the chance was gone.

Chances continued to be made and wasted at both ends but eventually a sweet strike from Sweeney ended Achill's 36-minute scoring drought and put the islanders two clear, 0-6 to 0-4, in the 51st minute.

That should have been the signal for Achill to kick clear once again but Charlestown had other ideas and went in search of redemption. Maye pointed another free in the 57th to cut the gap to the minimum once again and the odds on extra-time shortened dramatically.

Charlestown continued to look for the equaliser but Achill's defence, with Colm Cafferkey outstanding, didn't give them any clear opportunities. The concession of a free would have been particularly worrying at that stage for Achill given Maye's deadly accuracy but the islanders were highly disciplined in those closing moments and the eastern side couldn't engineer a score.

Both teams had chances to change the scoreboard, but rushed play and last-gasp tackles ensured that Achill's one-point advantage remained when the whistle blew after almost five minutes of injury time.

--Achill: Colm Cafferkey and Michael Daragh Sweeney 0-2 each, Donal Corrigan and Martin English 0-1 each. Charlestown: Colm Maye 0-5 (3f).

Conor Fadian; Colm English, Michael Gallagher, Sean Cafferkey; Joe English, Colm Cafferkey, Gerry Cafferkey; Donal Gallagher, Martin Keane; Donal Corrigan, Colm Gallagher, Michael Denis McNamara; Michael Daragh Sweeney, Martin English, David Ryder. Subs: David Cattigan for Ryder (26), Colm English (Saula) for D. Gallagher (57), Ciaran Needham for M.D McNamara (62).

Fergus Marren; Rory Gallagher, Ronan Kenny, Brian Sheeran; Andy Callaghan, Vinny Doherty, Cathal Marren; Michael Crowley, Sean Morris; Joe McBrien, Colm Horkan, Colm Maye; Shane Moran, Brendan Towey, Joey Owens.

Stephen Healy for Moran (50), Patrick Walsh and Thomas Meehan for Marren and Sheeran (55). Referee: John S. Walsh (Claremorris).

Article taken from, and copyright of the "Western People" , 17th October 2007.