*Caimin Morey is tackled by Paul Burke. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill
Workmanlike is perhaps the best way of describing Sixmilebridge’s safe passage to a fourth successive senior quarter-final in Cusack Park on Saturday evening.
Venue: Cusack Park, Ennis
After all, once getting to grips with an expected back-to-the-wall start from Whitegate who grabbed the first three points inside two minutes of the throw-in, the defending champions duly gained control and never looked like relinquishing it again.
That said, it was far from a comfortable ride at any stage as they simply couldn’t put the game fully to bed as Whitegate battled gamefully for their championship lives. Indeed, there was only a puck of the ball between the sides in injury-time after goalkeeper Andrew Fahey rifled a 20 metre free to the net to kickstart another Whitegate revival. But that was ultimately as good as it got for the North East Clare side.
Instead, Alex Morey steered the Sixmilebridge ship out of any potential choppy waters throughout with an eleven point haul which included four from play while his elder brother Caimin held firm at the back to alleviate any further damage.
For Whitegate, Ian Fahy, who popped up with a brace of long range first half points, exemplified their robust challenge while goalkeeper Fahey not only finished as top scorer with 1-3 from placed balls but also made an outstanding first half save to deny Cathal Malone.
Two monster frees from Fahey sandwiched a Ronan Hayes point as wind-assisted Whitegate took the game to the champions from the off. Wing-backs Seadna Morey and Ian Fahy soon traded singles to ensure that the three point margin remained until the seventh minute.
Fahey’s save came at a crucial time but with the ‘Bridge starting to find their feet, a five point unanswered rally, four from Alex Morey, finally got the holders’ noses in front by the 14th minute. However, Sixmilebridge would go into the water break wiping their brows with relief after Paul Burke’s flick over onrushing goalkeeper Derek Fahy also just cleared the crossbar at 0-6 to 0-5.
Some daylight did being to shine through when returning with five of the next six points as Morey (2) was joined in the scoring stakes by Shane Golden, Jason Loughnane and Jamie Shanahan at 0-11 to 0-06 by the 28th minute.
Whitegate still refused to accept their fate though as Ronan Hayes and Michael Hynes responded with the last two points to lessen the interval damage to three.
In fact, the gap was duly lowered to two within seven minutes of the restart before Sixmilebridge put their foot on the gas once more. A six point surge over the following 15 minutes, three through the unerring Alex Morey, appeared to settle matters as the ‘Bridge opened up their biggest margin of the evening at 0-18 to 0-11.
A foul on Colin Burke did afford Whitegate a glimmer of hope in the 56th minute though as up stepped Fahey to drill the resulting 20 metre free low to the net and slash the deficit to just four.
However, despite a further brace of Hynes frees, a grandstand finish was avoided when Shane Golden arrowed over the final point to secure Sixmilebridge’s berth back in the last four.
Job done but attached is the caveat that we’re yet to see the ‘Bridge roar to their 2019 heights.
Scorers for Sixmilebridge: Alex Morey (0-11, 6f, 1’65); Seadna Morey, Jamie Shanahan, Shane Golden (0-2 each); Brian Corry, Jason Loughnane, Pa Mulready (0-1 each)
Scorers for Whitegate: Andrew Fahey (1-3f); Michael Hynes (0-4f); Ronan Hayes, Ian Fahy (0-2 each); Paul Burke, Thomas Hogan (0-1 each)
1: Derek Fahy
2: Brian Carey
3: Barry Fitzpatrick
4: Noel Purcell
5: Seadna Morey
6: Caimin Morey
7: Pa Mulready
9: Evan McInerney
12: Jason Loughnane
10: Cathal Malone
14: Alex Morey
17: Conor Deasy
13: Brian Corry
11: Jamie Shanahan
8: Shane Golden
21: Paidi Fitzpatrick for McInerney (57)
20: Rory Shanahan for Corry (63)
1: Andrew Fahey
4: Dylan White
3: Eoin Quirke
2: Eoin Patterson
18: Danny Hynes
5: Brendan Bugler
7: Ian Fahy
8: Colin Burke
9: Ciaran Keenan
13: Thomas Hogan
11: Thomas Holland
12: Paddy Burke
15: Paul Burke
14: Ronan Hayes
10: Michael Hynes
6: Colm Madden for Paul Burke (42)
28: Conor McDermott for Paddy Burke (52)
Referee: Niall Malone (Éire Óg)