This season has been different.
In 2011 this hotbed of hurling has secured North Cork honours, a county junior hurling title and on Sunday they face Limerick kingpins Cappamore in the provincial final.
So what’s changed? The difference, according to captain Daniel O’Flynn (22), is the infusion of youth, the introduction to the panel this year of a number of youngsters who have become used to winning.
“Those who are in charge of the underage teams are putting in a huge effort. We’ve got four lads training with Cork U14s, a lad on the Cork U15 panel, lads on the county U16 and minor panels. All going well we’ll have three lads on the minor team for next year, James O’Brien, Gavin Kelleher and Alan Dennehy, who was there this year as well. Those three lads have already been a huge part of our success this year and if they can make it with Cork it will be a great boost for the club. Overall the future looks bright, and we’re after giving them that incentive now, they’ll be playing intermediate hurling next year so they’ll have a bigger stage on which to show their ability.”
On the training ground O’Flynn notices the difference especially. “All the young lads have brought a new life to training and there are so many of them. We have had 40 lads at training all year. That means you’re able to play full 15-a-side games, and that really brings you on. Drills and so on are good but you can’t beat really competitive training-matches. With so many fellas fighting for 15 places you know the fella you’re marking isn’t just there to make up the numbers, he’s fighting for your place. Where before you might have had an attitude of ‘I’ll win this one, you win the next one’, now you have real competition.”
Another problem Charleville faced was their urban status in the midst of rural clubs like Newtownshandrum, Dromina, Ballyhea and Milford.
“It was like you had a target on your back,” admitted O’Flynn ,who ironically lives on the family farm on the Newtown border a few miles out of town.
He explained: “There’s a passage into the house and Charleville parish is on one side, Newtown on the other – the (home) house is on the Charleville side!
“That ‘townie’ title is harsh. There is an attitude that we’re soft; that we are fine hurlers but when the going gets tough we fold. We’ve come up against teams this year that have tried to bully us, who thought maybe that ‘If we do to Charleville what we’ve always done, we’ll wear them down’. That hasn’t happened. We’ve played some really tough teams this year and we haven’t backed down from any of them.”
They’ve done the town proud, gave a huge lift especially in his final days to club President Michael Kearney, who passed away on Monday in his 99th year.