Sixmilebridge’s bid to claim three in a row Clare senior hurling championships for the first time in their history got off to a winning start when they accounted for the challenge of a youthful Clarecastle on Friday evening.
Venue: Cusack Park, Ennis
Before a ball was pucked in Group 2, the narrative had already been scripted that qualification for the knockout stages for Sixmilebridge was a mere certainty with the trio of Clarecastle, Scariff and Wolfe Tones vying for the final spot.
Sixmilebridge backed up their side of the deal and interestingly though not surprisingly utilised a sweeper for the entire duration of their win. Their ruthless mentality was also evident as they continued to try ram home goals towards the end of the clash and also sprung Seadna Morey from the bench when matters were sewn up.
Both Rory O’Connell and Dylan Browne made their championship debuts for Clarecastle and showed well over the hour. Their inexperienced side were dealt cruel blows early on when their longest serving player Patrick Kelly was forced off with injury and his replacement, ex Clare U21 panellist Gearoid Ryan also had to make way after picking up a knock.
Not wanting to go down easy against their rivals, Clarecastle fought hard in the opening exchanges and trailed by four points at the first water break. However when Sixmilebridge raided for their first goal via Brian Corry on twenty three minutes they smelled blood and from here the Magpies’ challenge waned somewhat.
Alex Morey made the gap ten points six minutes later but fortunately for Clarecastle, Jack Murphy would strike for their first goal to reduce the deficit at half time.
No side registered a score in the first seven minutes of the second half until Alex Morey and Darragh Healy traded points. Then on forty two minutes, Páidí Fitzpatrick had an excellent overhead strike to collect his first championship goal for The Bridge.
The Bridge proceeded to tap on scores until the final whistle with substitutes Seadna Morey and Conor Deasy combining for the latter to bury the net on fifty seven minutes.
While the margin of the defeat will bruise Clarecastle, they will not be entirely despondent with their showing. Darragh Healy, David Tuohy plus debutants O’Connell and Browne led the charge for Brian Russell’s side who also had strong scoring contributions from Jack Murphy and Colin Brigdale.
As expected, it’s a winning start for Sixmilebridge who certainly justified their tag as championship favourites. No weaknesses were exposed from their side and they now plan on maintaining their unbeaten streak of eleven games when they meet Wolfe Tones in the second round. Jamie Shanahan, Noel Purcell, Páidí Fitzpatrick and Caimin Morey were most prominent for Tim Crowe’s outfit.
Scorers Sixmilebridge: A Morey (0-06 6f), J Shanahan (0-05), B Corry (1-02), P Fitzpatrick (1-01), S Golden (0-03), C Deasy (1-00), E McInerney (0-02), A Mulready (0-02), P Mulready (0-01), C Morey (0-01), J Loughnane (0-01), B Carey (0-01), S Morey (0-01).
Scorers Clarecastle: J Murphy (2-02), B Duggan (0-02 2f), K McDermott (0-02), D Browne (0-02 1f), C Brigdale (0-02), J Brack (0-01), D Healy (0-01 1f), O Casey (0-01 1f).
1: Derek Fahy
19: Christy Carey
3: Barry Fitzpatrick
4: Noel Purcell
6: Caimin Morey
2: Brian Carey
5: Paidi Fitzpatrick
10: Pa Mulready
9: Evan McInerney
8: Jason Loughnane
12: Alan Mulready
11: Jamie Shanahan
14: Shane Golden
13: Brian Corry
15: Alex Morey
18: Conor Deasy for P Fitzpatrick (45)
7: Seadna Morey for A Morey (52).
1: Cian Broderick
4: Hayden Starr
3: Ronan Donnelly
2: Marc McAuliffe
5: David Tuohy
6: Darragh Healy
7: Patrick Kelly
8: Killian McDermott
9: Rory O’Connell
10: Niall Galvin
11: Bobby Duggan
12: Stephen Ward
13: Josh Brack
14: Dylan Browne
15: Jack Murphy
18: Gearoid Ryan for Kelly (3) Inj
17: Pa Tuohy for Ryan (19)
25: Colin Brigdale for Brack (45)
26: Oisin Casey for McDermott (50)
Referee: Joe Mullins (Clonlara)