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Superior Sixmilebridge secure fifteenth Clare SHC crown

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*Seoirse Bulfin and Davy Fitzgerald celebrate. Photograph: Gerard O’Neill

Sixmilebridge have claimed the Clare SHC for the fifteenth time overcoming neighbours O’Callaghans Mills by eight points on Sunday afternoon.

Sixmilebridge 0-20
O’Callaghans Mills 0-12
Venue: Cusack Park, Ennis

Seven points was the winning margin when Sixmilebridge overcame their Garneyside neighbours Cratloe last year but they upped this by one point when accounting for their rivals on the Kilmurry side.

As they claimed their fifteenth title, all of which have been won since 1977 when they overcame Kilkishen, Sixmilebridge did so in front of a smaller crowd on account of Government COVID-19 guidelines but more impressively they manufactured the victory with little fuss or panic.

A bright start from O’Callaghans Mills saw lively corner forwards Gary Cooney and Colin Crehan point from either side of the field to hold a one point advantage with four minutes played. Sixmilebridge levelled matters through Brian Corry and went in front with further scores from Cathal Malone, Seadna Morey and Alex Morey, crucially they would never surrendered the lead for the remainder of the game with their big day experience a telling factor.

Cooney and Crehan added to their tally to reduce the gap to one point but once again The Bridge found an answer and powered forward with eight of the next eleven scores to hold a 0-13 0-07 advantage at the interval.

On the restart it was the Mills men that had the better spell. A double from Sean Cotter and an Aidan Fawl point reduced the arrears to three points, they passed up on the opportunity to bridge the distance even more with two scoreable frees going to the wrong side of the posts.

Although the Mills kept their opponents scoreless for the first ten minutes of the half, their positive work came undone as Sixmilebridge rattled off three points in a row to cancel out the inroads made by the Fireballs.

Frees were exchanged by Alex Morey and Jacob Loughnane before Jamie Shanahan, Shane Golden and Conor Deasy rattled off further scores for Tim Crowe’s side. Aidan Fawl kicked the sliotar over the crossbar to give the Mills the final score of the outing but it was not sufficient to cause an upset and ensued that the Canon Hamilton was heading back to Sixmilebridge for the fifth time in eight years.

Reaching the county final for the first time since 1993 is an achievement in itself for the Mills but ultimately finals only create fond memories for the teams that prevail in them. Off the field antics including interactions with match officials and stewards were a needless distraction on their behalf throughout the game.

Visibly their full-forward line caused problems for their counterparts but the supply of ball into them was not plentiful enough to make it count. On a season where they claimed Junior A and Minor B glory, they will be disappointed to finish the year on a bum note. For Donach O’Donnell’s outfit, Colin Crehan, Gary Cooney and Conor Cooney stood out.

With far more scoring options and better distribution to their attackers, the ability for Sixmilbridge to tack off scores was much easier. Remarkably they have won the senior championship without scoring a goal in the entire campaign but have done so while only conceding one green flag. When in possession, they made the smarter choice particularly with the final move of the sequence whereas their opponents fumbled or dropped the ball more in comparison.

Questions have been asked in the past decade as to why Sixmilebridge have failed to defend their title, although they have not played outstanding hurling in this campaign the Davy Fitzgerald coached team possess the know-how to win games and by doing so removed the hoodoo surrounding back to back success. The performances of Seadna Morey, Cathal Malone, Alex Morey, Jamie Shanahan, Pa Mulready and Brian Corry were pivotal to their victory.

Scorers Sixmilebridge: Alex Morey (0-07 6f), Cathal Malone (0-04), Brian Corry (0-03), Jamie Shanahan (0-02), Seadna Morey (0-01), Alan Mulready (0-01), Shane Golden (0-01), Conor Deasy (0-01).

Scorers O’Callaghans Mills: Colin Crehan (0-05 4f), Gary Cooney (0-02), Sean Cotter (0-02), Aidan Fawl (0-02), Jacob Loughnane (0-01).

Sixmilebridge:
1: Derek Fahy

2: Brian Carey
4: Noel Purcell
3: Barry Fitzpatrick

6: Caimin Morey

21: Paidi Fitzpatrick
5: Seadna Morey
7: Pa Mulready

11: Jamie Shanahan
12: Jason Loughnane

10: Cathal Malone
14: Alex Morey
15: Alan Mulready

13: Brian Corry
8: Shane Golden

Subs:
17: Conor Deasy for Loughnane (48)
20: Rory Shanahan for A Mulready (58)

O’Callaghans Mills:
1: Killian Nugent

2: Mike Cotter
3: Conor Cooney
4: Gerry Cooney

5: Patrick Donnellan
6: Aidan O’Gorman
7: Niall Donovan

8: Ciarán Cooney
9: Conor Henry

12: Jacob Loughnane
11: Bryan Donnellan
10: Aidan Fawl

13: Gary Cooney
14: Seán Cotter
15: Colin Crehan

Subs:
17: Sean O’Gorman for Donovan (48)
22: Cormac Murphy for B Donnellan (52)
18: Mike McGrath for Ciarán Cooney (55)

Referee: Rory McGann (Newmarket-on-Fergus)

Páraic McMahon is Head of News & Sport with The Clare Echo. The Newmarket-on-Fergus native also writes for national papers including The Irish Examiner, The Irish Independent and The Irish Times along with doing work for RTÉ, Today FM, TheJournal.ie and The42.ie. A graduate of Mary Immaculate College, Páraic was previously employed by The Clare Herald and Clare FM. If you have a story, tip or some feedback for him then send an email to - paraic@clareecho.ie

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