*Sixmilebridge’s Noel Purcell. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
Defending champions Sixmilebridge remain unbeaten after three rounds in this year’s Clare senior hurling championship but they received their stiffest test of the season to date when they faced Scariff in their final group game this Sunday afternoon.
Venue: Cusack Park, Ennis
The title holders who are chasing a third successive Canon Hamilton cup success, were put to the pin of their collar to win this one against last years intermediate champions. In the end it was that bit of experience which stood to them but Scariff have reason to be disappointed that they didn’t get something out of what was an entertaining and hard fought contest.
They will be pleased to have avoided the relegation play off but they were so close to a place in the quarter finals. They must now turn their attention to the senior B championship.
Scariff’s determination to follow their victory over Clarecastle with another win was evident from the outset and with Patrick Crotty on fire at wing forward, they raced into a 0-6 to 0-3 lead as Crotty fired over three of those scores with the other three coming from the stick of Mark Rodgers.
As the first quarter drew to a close the title holders came more into the game and they had the last two scores before the opening waterbreak to leave the minimum between the sides, 0-6 to 0-5 in favour of Scariff.
They took up where they left off when play resumed, Alex Morey levelled the tie and this was followed by a Jason Loughnane goal following good work by Seadna Morey and Brian Corry.
Crotty pulled a point back for Scariff but Alex Morey converted a free and Seadna Morey then finished to the net following an Alan Mulready free and the champions were 2-7 to 0-7 in front.
Many might have felt at this stage that Sixmilebridge would pull away and win comfortable but Scariff had other ides and they finished the half in a blaze of glory. Points from Patrick Ryan and Keelan Hartigan were followed by a Conor McNamara goal which came after his first attempts was well smothered by Derek Fahy in the Sixmilebridge goal. Just before the short whistle to signal half time, Mark Rodgers fired over the equaliser to leave the score at 2-7 to 1-10 at the mid point.
Points were exchanged three times in the third quarter before a Patrick Crotty effort edged the East Clare side one clear, 1-14 to 2-10, at the second water break.
When play resumed two converted Alex Morey frees edged the winners back in front but then Scariff did likewise and two points from Rodgers had Scariff one to the good entering the final ten minutes.
The title holders greter experience came to the fore now and points from substitute Conor Deasy, Caimin Morey from long range, Cathal Malone and Jason Loughnane gave the Bridge a three point advantage as the clock ticked towards the final whistle.
Scariff did have the final say as the excellent Crotty landed his sixth but it wasn’t enough to upset the champions. The final result means that Sixmilebridge top this group with full points with the second qualifying spot going to Wolfe Tones who edged ahead of Scariff on score difference. Clarecastle also finished on two points but an inferior score difference to Wolfe Tones and Scariff means that they will compete in the relegation play off.
Scorers Sixmilebridge: Alex Morey (0-6, 5f); Seadna Morey (1-2) Jason Loughnane (1-1), Cathal Malone (0-2); Brian Corry, Shane Golden, Alan Mulready, Conor Desy, Caimin Morey (0-1) each
Scorers Scariff: Mark Rodgers (0-8, 3f); Patrick Crotty (0-6); Conor McNamara (1-0), Patrick Ryan, Keelan Hartigan, John Scanlan (0-1) each
1: Derek Fahy
2: Brian Carey
3: Barry Fitzpatrick
4: Noel Purcell
6: Caimin Morey
19: Christy Carey
9: Evan McInerney
5: Pa Mulready
10: Alan Mulready
7: Seadna Morey
15: Shane Golden
12: Cathal Malone
8: Jason Loughnane
15: Alex Morey
13: Brian Corry
18: Conor Deasy for P. Mulready (49)
1: Liam Doyle
2: Eoin O’Grady
3: Michael Scanlon
4: Cathal Madden
5: Conor Moloney
6: Daniel Treacy
7: Diarmuid Nash
8: Keelan Hartigan
9: Martin Cunningham
10: Patrick Ryan
11: Sean Minogue
12: Patrick Crotty
21: Conor McNamara
14: Mark Rodgers
15: Shane Kavanagh
13: John Scanlon for Kavanagh (29)
18: Shane Corry for McNamara (37)
20: Fergus Madden for Cunningham (50
17: Ross Horan for Ryan (56)
Referee: Wayne King (St. Josephs Doora/Barefield)