By: Caimin Barrett (PRO)
In all Sixmilebridge have contested sixteen U21 A finals (Thursday will be the seventeenth) with the club obtaining twelve titles. The clubs first victory was in 1971 with another championship arriving in 1973. This double success along with a three in a row from 1979 to 1981 laid the foundations for senior success in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.
Tulla thwarted a four in a row attempt in 1982 by knocking out the ‘Bridge early in the competition. Feakle actually beat their great rivals at U21 in three finals in a row from 1983-85 with some of the games said to be of an excellent standard. The East Clare side created history with a four in a row from 1982 to 1985 and indeed they were chasing a fifth title on the go in 1986 only for Sixmilebridge to put an end to their reign. Two years later another title was annexed before a few lean years at this grade came our way.
Another good crop of underage player’s in the 90’s ensured the Blake Cup came back to visit the parish again with back to back victories in 1997 and 1998. Into the new millennium and with the 1995 All-Ireland Féile side coming through along with the 2001 minor champions the A title was reclaimed in 2002 and 2003 before they were knocked out by Scariff-Ogonnelloe in 2004. The last championship came in 2009 when that particular side brought back the honours for the twelfth time.
A chance of a double loomed last year but unfortunately on the day Eire Óg upset the A’s and Ennistymon saw off the second string in the C decider. The return of the second string in 2010 ensured a third final appearance as previously defeat was the lot against Kilnamona in 1998 and Clonlara in 2000 after a replay. Unfortunately the second string bowed out of the championship race this year at the semi final stage to Feakle/Killanena after producing some excellent performances that proved the benefit of a second team.
Interestingly all four of the ‘Bridge management have U21 medals. Paddy Meehan has three (1979, 80 and 81), John O’Meara (1997-98) and Leo Quinlan both have two (1979-80) while Niall Gilligan won his maiden U21 medal in 1997 when he captained the side. Similarly, sixteen of the current panel hold U21 medals from the last victory in 2009.
1971 - First ever U21 hurling championship for Sixmilebridge
(played in October 1972)
Sixmilebridge 1-6 v Tubber 1-4
The year of 1971 saw Sixmilebridge defeat Tubber in the Intermediate final with a number of that’s years U21 side in action. Both these sides also qualified for the U21 A final however having defeated Feakle in the U21 semi final of the said year it was not until the following Autumn (29th October 1972) that the final was actually played. Along the way Clarecastle and Ballyea both had to give second best to the ‘Bridge. The headlines in the 10th of November edition of the Clare Champion stated that “An outstanding display by centre back Sean Stack played a major part in Sixmilebridge winning the County U21 hurling championship title for the first time ever when they scored a narrow but fully deserved 1-6 to 1-4 victory over Tubber at Cusack Park, Ennis recently. The Bridge, who shared a 0-2 to 0-2 scoreline after an undistinguished first half, got into their stride on the resumption and with the towering Stack in rampant form and Paddy Hickey and Peter Lynch commanding the midfield exchanges, clocked up the necessary scores for a victory that should do much for the rejuvenation of hurling in the South Clare parish”.
Sixmilebridge 1971 U-21 Champions. Back row (from left): Martin “Schun” Murray (selector) (RIP), Christy Sheehan (selector), Gerry Stack, Peter Golden, Mikey Shanahan (selector), Sean Stack, Gerry Murray, Seamus O’Halloran, P.J. Fitzpatrick, Mikey Toomey (selector), John Connors, Christy “Cra” Murray, Martin Gleeson (selector) (RIP), Christy Murphy, Dick Barron (manager) (RIP), Jim Hoban (RIP), Jim “Carthy” Roughan, Gerry Nash, Jimmy Murphy. Front row (from left): Pat “Bo” Kearney (RIP), Peter Lynch, Tony Keogh, Flan Lynch, Pat Chaplin (captain), Jamesy Keogh, Paddy Deegan, Paddy Hickey (RIP), Tim Crowe and Paddy O’Gorman (selector) (RIP).
The major turning point in the game was a goal from full forward John Connors, which came in the second half. The report of the match in the Clare Champion also states “As well as the unbeatable Stack and the dominance of Hickey and Lynch, Sixmilebridge had other fine stalwarts in goalkeeper Christy Murphy, P.J. Fitzpatrick, Tony Keogh, Gerry Nash, Tim Crowe, Paddy Deegan, Pat Chaplin and full forward O’Connor who battled bravely all through”. A notable feature of the Tubber side was the presence of the four O’Connor brothers (Jamie, Enda, Pat and Michael) in their starting fifteen.
Sixmilebridge: Christy Murphy; Jamesie Keogh, P.J. Fitzpatrick, Flan Lynch; Gerry Nash, Sean Stack, Tony Keogh; Peter Lynch, Paddy Hickey (RIP); Paddy Deegan, Pat Chaplin (Captain), Peter Golden; Jim Hoban (RIP), John Connors, Tim Crowe.
Subs: Gerry Stack, Jim Roughan, Seamus O’Halloran, Gerry Murray, Christy Murray, Jimmy Murphy.
Management: Dick Barron (manager) (RIP), Pat Kearney (RIP), Christy Sheehan, Martin Murray (RIP), Martin Gleeson (RIP), Paddy O’Gorman (RIP), Mikey Shanahan and Mikey Toomey (selectors).
1973 - Whitegate are put the sword for title number two
Sixmilebridge 3-8 v Whitegate 1-2
In 1973 Sixmilebridge beat Clarecastle in the semi final before going on to meet the defending champions Whitegate in the final. Prior to this both O’Callaghan’s Mills and Crusheen were defeated by the Tim Crowe trained side. The final was played on Sunday the 14th of October at Dr. Daly Park, Tulla as a curtain raiser to the Broadford and Feakle intermediate final. The report of the game describes the match as “good and swift with plenty of first class hurling. Both teams got down to the task of winning the game from the start and served up to the rather large crowd an exhibition of ground hurling to be remembered for a long time to come”. At half time the scores were level, Sixmilebridge 0-4 v Whitegate 1-1. On the resumption the 1972 champions took the lead only for Sean Stack to level proceedings soon after. It was during the second half that the Bridge made a few positional changes. According to the report in the Clare Champion one of these changes was the switching of Jim Roughan from centre forward to top of the right. The team captain had also been moved in the first half from centre back to centre forward. However it was at top of the right where he got through for two crucial goals in the 40th and 45th minutes with the Champion reporting that he caused havoc for the Whitegate defence. Sixmilebridge added a further 1-2 after this thanks to a Tim Crowe goal and points from Paddy Deegan and Pat Hassett to seal the win.
Sixmilebridge 1973 U-21 champions. Back row (from left): Tony Keogh, Gerry Nash, Jamesy Keogh, Peter Golden, Sean Stack, Christy Murphy, Christy Murray, Mike Corbett, Paddy Mulready, Michael Quinlan, Tony Reddan, Flan McInerney. Front row (from left): Pat Hassett, Pat Morey, John Crowe, John Fitzgerald, Jim Roughan (captain), Packie Murphy, Paddy Deegan, PJ Fitzpatrick, Tim Crowe.
The paper reports “The full back line and goalie made its mark through the game never giving much away to the Whitegate forward line. PJ Fitzpatrick will certainly be seen as one of the strongest pillars of the Bridge’s defence. He thwarted numerous Whitegate incursions and made valuable clearances over the hour. The half back line and centre field came into their own in the second half. The forwards took quite a while to settle down.” To finish up the report the match reporter states “We can expect to hear a lot more of this talented Sixmilebridge side in the not too distant future.“ It proved to be an inspired piece of writing as four years later the first senior championship arrived to the parish with ten of the successful 1973 U21 panel part of the historic occasion.
Sixmilebridge: Christy Murphy; Chirsty Murray, Jamesie Keogh, P.J. Fitzpatrick; Peter Golden, Jim Roughan (captain) (2-0), Tony Keogh; Gerry Nash, Sean Stack (0-2); Tim Crowe (1-1), Pat Morey, Paddy Deegan (0-1), Paddy Mulready (0-3), Tony Reddan, Packie Murphy.
Subs: Pat Hassett (0-1) for Reddan. Michael Quinlan, Mike Corbett, John Fitzgerald, John Crowe, Flan McInerney, Syl O’Connor.
Management included: Tim Crowe (trainer).
1979 - Start of the three in a row as Magow creates history
Sixmilebridge 6-10 v 1-6 Ruan (after a replay)
In 1979 Sixmilebridge enjoyed perhaps one of their most successful years ever with a treble of championships thanks to the acquisition of the minor, U21 and senior crowns. For five of the Sixmilebridge team it represented a unique treble with one player namely Gerry “Magow” McInerney starting in all three finals. The other four who featured on these panels were Pat Collins, Enda Quinlan, Paddy Meehan, and Seamus O’Shea. On route to the U21 final victories were recorded over Clarecastle (5-10 v 2-5) and Eire Óg. This gave the Bridge a final appearance with Ruan (defending champions) with the venue being Dr. Daly Park in Tulla. It took two games to find a winner as Sixmilebridge eventually overcame a Cyril Lyons led Ruan team in the final. On the first day out Sixmilebridge were without Leo Quinlan (holidays) and Kieran O’Shea (injured) however they still possessed a strong side. The Clare Champion headline was “Lucky Sixmilebridge live to fight another day”. Ruan seemed to have the Bridge on the rack during the game but a good comeback to leave the sides deadlocked at Ruan 4-8 v Sixmilebridge 5-5 ensured a second chance. Those who played well for the Johnny Moroney managed side were Pat Collins, Christy Connors, Mike Morey, John Brennan, Jim Corbett, Flan Quilligan, Seamus O’Shea, the Meehan brothers and Gerry McInerney.
Sixmilebridge 1979 U-21 champions. Back row (from left): Brian McNamara, Gerry McInerney, Leo Quinlan, John Brennan, Pat Collins, Gerry Meehan, Mike Morey, Kieran O’Shea. Front row (from left): John Hassett, Jim Corbett, Flan McInerney, Pat Corbett, Flan Quilligan, Seamus O’Shea, Tommy Morey (captain).
Sixmilebridge: Pat Collins; Jim Corbett, Christy O’Connor, Brian McNamara; Mike Morey, John Brennan, Enda Quinlan; Flan Quilligan (0-1), Tommy Morey (captain) (RIP); Pat Corbett, John Hassett, Gerry McInerney (1-3); Seamus O’Shea (2-0), Gerry Meehan (2-0), Paddy Meehan (0-1).
Subs: Flan McInerney for Quinlan, Jimmy Morey for Tommy Morey, Gerry Corry for Hassett.
For the replay, on Sunday the 28th of October, Quinlan and O’Shea were back in the Bridge side with Paddy Meehan out through a thumb injury. To quote the match reporter “ Sixmilebridge made no mistake second time out to record a unique treble”, indeed the eventual winners were in control 3-3 to 1-3 at the break. In the second half they kicked on to record a further 3-7 to run out 6-10 to 1-6 winners at Dr. Daly Park. According to the match reporter Kieran O’Shea was a major difference at the back, Mike Morey at wing back was inspired, Tommy Morey and Flan Quilligan ran the show at midfield while up front Seamus O’Shea, Leo Quinlan, Gerry Meehan and Gerry McInerney were to the fore. After the game county hurling board chairman Andrew Curtin presented Bridge captain Tommy Morey with the Blake Memorial cup.
Sixmilebridge: Pat Collins; Brian McNamara, Jim Corbett, Kieran O’Shea; Mike Morey, John Brennan, Flan McInerney; Tommy Morey (captain), Flan Quilligan (0-1); Leo Quinlan (0-4), Seamus O’Shea (0-1), Pat Corbett (1-0); John Hassett, Gerry Meehan (3-3), Gerry McInerney (2-1).
Subs: Christy O’Connor for John Brennan, Sean Corbett for Pat Collins and Martin Corry for P.Corbett. Other sub’s included: Paddy Meehan, Enda Quinlan, Jimmy Morey, Gerry Corry, Tom Sheehan, Dermot Murphy, Sean Keane, Jim Brennan.
Management: Johnny Moroney (manager), Pat Kearney (RIP), Pat Morey and Kevin Toomey (RIP).
1979 Bridge U-21 captain the late Tommy Morey receives the U21 Cup from hurling board chairman Andrew Curtin.
1980 – Second half dominance gives victory to Sixmilebridge
Sixmilebridge 5-12 v 1-7 O’Callaghan’s Mills
A fourth U21 crown came this side in 1980 as near neighbours O’Callaghan’s Mills were overcome in the final. En route to the penultimate stage the opposition of Eire Óg and Scariff were marshalled to set up this clash of neighbours. The match was played at Cusack Park on Sunday the 28th of September before the Éire Óg Dal gCais and Newmarket-on-Fergus senior final. In the end it proved to be a good victory for the reigning champions with the headlines in the following week’s Clare Champion headlining that “Second half dominance gives victory to Sixmilebridge”. The Bridge were a goal to the good in a tightly contested first half 1-4 to 0-4 before running out seventeen point winners with a flurry of goals and points in the second period. After just five minutes the ‘Bridge were 0-4 to 0-0 up before the ‘Mills came back into the tie. On the restart Leo Quinlan joined Flan Quilligan at midfield in a period described in the report as “disappointing” as the champions took complete control. According to the report by Seamus Hayes a goal from a miss hit Leo Quinlan 20 metre free in the second half ended this tie as a contest as it put the champions up by twelve points. The Mills got their goal from a 20 metre free two minutes from time and had two penalties saved in the final moments.
Sixmilebridge 1980 U-21 champions. Back row (from left): Pat Corbett, Jim Brennan, Kieran O’Shea, Leo Quinlan, Dermot Murphy, Gerry McInerney, Gerry Meehan, Michael Morey, Paddy Meehan, John Brennan, Enda Quinlan, Jim Corbett. Front row (from left): Brian McNamara, Seamus O’Shea, Tom Sheehan, Sean Keane, Martin Corry, Flan Quilligan (captain), Pat Collins, Flan McInerney, Jimmy Morey, Gerry Corry, John Lynch.
According to the match report “Pat Collins, Jim Corbett, Kieran O’Shea, Mike Morey, Leo Quinlan, John Lynch and Seamus O’Shea all had their moments.” Current ‘Bridge senior selector Mike Deasy lined out at wing back on the ‘Mills team. Deasy was also on the ‘Mills team the following year in 81 when they again had to give second best to Sixmilebridge.
Sixmilebridge: Pat Collins; Brian McNamara, Jim Corbett, Kieran O’Shea; Mike Morey, John Brennan, Enda Quinlan; Leo Quinlan (2-7, 1-5 frees), Flan Quilligan (captain); Martin Corry (0-1), Paddy Meehan, Seamus O’Shea (0-1); Gerry McInerney (1-0), Gerry Meehan (1-0), John Lynch (1-3).
Subs: Gerry Corry for Seamus O’Shea, Jimmy Morey for M.Corry, Flan McInerney for E.Quinlan, Tom Sheehan, Dermot Murphy, Pat Corbett, Sean Keane, Jim Brennan.
Management: Johnny Moroney (manager), Kevin “Trixie” Toomey (trainer), Pat “Bo” Kearney and Pat Morey (selectors).
1981 –Tock captains ‘Bridge to a first ever three in a row
Sixmilebridge 6-12 v 1-1 O’Callaghan’s Mills
Sixmilebridge went into 1981 with a three in a row of U21 titles within their reach. First up for the reigning champions, who had a bye in round 1, was a clash with Eire Óg at Tulla in the semi final on the 20th September. Sixmilebridge were well on top throughout this game and qualified for a third final in a row thanks to a 2-10 to 1-1 win. This victory set up a repeat of the 1980 final with Sixmilebridge and O’Callaghan’s Mills doing battle at Tulla on the 11th of October. The report of the game in the Clare Champion described the final with the following words “Overall it was one of worst finals seen in the county for some years. The Bridge backboned by eleven of their senior panel were always in controland they proved much too strong for the Mills”. The winners were well on their way to victory by half time as two John Lynch goals gave the three in a row seeking Sixmilebridge a 2-8 to 1-0 interval lead. Further goals in the second half from Lynch, Enda Quinlan, Paddy Meehan and Gerry Corry ensured a convincing twenty-six point win.
Sixmilebridge 1981 U-21 champions. Back row (from left): John Lynch, Kieran O’Shea (captain), Seamus O’Shea, Martin Corry, Enda Quinlan, Michael Morey, John Brennan, Jim Corbett. Front row (front left): Brian McNamara, Gerry McInerney, Gerry Corry, Pat Collins, Danny Chaplin, Flan McInerney, Jimmy Morey.
In what was described in the headline of the report as a stroll in the park “Mike Morey, Martin Corry, John Lynch with 3-3, Gerry Corry with 1-4 and Gerry McInerney” stood out for the winners. This ensured a third title on the trot with Kieran “Tock” O’Shea the winning captain.
Sixmilebridge: Pat Collins; Brian McNamara, Jim Corbett, Kieran O’Shea (captain); Enda Quinlan (1-0), John Brennan, Flan McInerney; Mike Morey, Martin Corry; Jimmy Morey, Gerry McInerney (0-5), Gerry Corry (1-4); Danny Chaplin, Seamus O’Shea, John Lynch (3-3).
Subs: Paddy Meehan (1-0) for S.O’Shea, Sean Keane for Chaplin, Tom Sheehan for J.Morey. Other sub’s included: James “Ribs” Mulready (RIP) (who came on in the semi final) and 1981 Clare minor Noel O’Gorman.
Management: Johnny Moroney (manager), Kevin “Trixie” Toomey (trainer), Pat “Bo” Kearney and Pat Morey (selectors).
1986 – Sixmilebridge put an end to Feakle’s five in a row dream
Sixmilebridge 2-17 v 3-6 Feakle
A dominant force in Clare hurling particularly at U21 grade in the early to mid 80’s was the Feakle team. It was in those years that the East Clare side captured four U21 titles in a row, indeed they proved to be a bit of a bogey team for Sixmilebridge with the latter losing three finals in a row (1983-85) to the Tommy Guilfoyle and Val Donnellan inspired side. Thus the final in 1986 had shades of Kerry in 1982 and Kilkenny in 2010 in it as Feakle aimed for a record breaking five in a row. In the lead up to the final Sixmilebridge had the unique destination of receiving two walkovers from Eire Óg and Tulla before defeating Clarecastle (3-10 v 1-3) in the last four. Such was the dominance of both the ‘Bridge and Feakle in this grade that between them they had won seven titles on the trot. In the match preview in the Clare Champion the Bridge were tipped to end Feakle’s reign. This prediction proved to be correct with the headline in the following week’s paper reading “Title for ‘Bridge after great fightback” Feakle led at the interval by 2-5 to 0-9 but two goals in the second half from a John Chaplin penalty and Colm Reidy along with Declan McInerney top scoring with 0-11 ensured a first championship since 1981. After the match a jubilant Bridge captain Seamus Cusack accepted the trophy on behalf of his side and paid tribute to the management team of Kevin “Trixie” Toomey, Tim Crowe, Pat Morey, Johnny Moroney and Paddy Casey. Those signalled out in the report as having played well were Brendan Flynn, John O’Connell, Noel Casey, Seamus Cusack, John Chaplin and man of the match Declan McInerney.
Sixmilebridge: Brendan Flynn; Leo Mulready, Mike Toomey, Noel Casey; Joe Joe Murphy, John O’Connell, Kevin McInerney; Seamus Cusack (captain) (0-1, ‘65), John Chaplin (1-1, 1-0 pen), Mike Corry (0-2), Brian Barron; Kevin Murray (0-1); Colm Reidy (1-0), Eamonn Healy (0-1), Declan McInerney (0-11, 10 frees).
Sub: Sean Flynn for Barron. Other sub’s included: Michael Casey, Michael Sheedy, Henry Hehir, Ian Mulready, David Fitzgerald, David Murray, Richard Flynn, James McInerney, Conor Loughnane, Christy Morey, Corey Downes.
Management: Kevin “Trixie” Toomey, Tim Crowe, Pat Morey, Johnny Moroney and Paddy Casey (RIP).
1988 – Skillful McInerney leads ‘Bridge to title
Sixmilebridge 3-10 v 1-7 Clarecastle
Sixmilebridge won another U21 title in 1988 by virtue of beating Clarecastle in the final. The passage to this final was granted thanks to a quarter final victory over Kilmaley followed by a 3-12 to 1-8 defeat of the holders Scariff in the semi final. Some of the highlights of this game included the inspired from of John Chaplin and Declan McInerney, and Henry Hehir’s goal where he doubled on a “low” John Chaplin sideline cut to blast to the net. The Clare Champion report of the final summarises the game quite well “Inspired by superb team captain and full forward Declan McInerney, who contributed 1-8 of their total. Sixmilebridge deservingly won the under 21 A hurling championship title when overcoming Clarecastle at Cusack Park on Sunday last. In a game which produced some good passages of play and in which a player from each side received marching orders following a second half flare up, the all round strength of the winners proved decisive as they won back a title they last held in 1986.”
Sixmilebridge 1988 U-21 champions. Back row (from left): Michael Sheedy, Joe Joe Murphy, John Chaplin, Henry Hehir, Leo Mulready, Mike Toomey, Kevin McInerney, Christy Chaplin. Front row (from left): Conor Loughnane, Christy Morey, James McInerney, Brendan Flynn, Declan McInerney (captain), Noel Casey, Mikey Casey.
At half time the winners led 1-6 to 0-5 while the flare up in the 19th minute came as a result of a late challenge on Bridge keeper Brendan Flynn as he was clearing his lines. Seamus Hayes of the Clare Champion states in the report that “When referee Seanie McMahon resumed play he sent off Clarecastle substitute Noel Considine, on the field less than a minute, and Sixmilebridge’s Conor Loughnane. He also booked Padraig Russell (Clarecastle) and Michael Casey (Sixmilebridge). “ Sixmilebridge had the better of the second half outscoring their opponents by 2-6 to 0-3 to clinch the title. Those to play well is summed up in the report “McInerney got good support from Mike Toomey, Noel Casey, Kevin McInerney, JJ Murphy, John Chaplin, James McInerney and Michael Casey.”
Sixmilebridge: Brendan Flynn; Leo Mulready, Mike Toomey, Kevin McInerney; Conor Loughnane, Noel Casey, Christy Chaplin; John Chaplin, Joe Joe Murphy; Henry Hehir, Christy Morey, James McInerney; Mike Sheedy, Declan McInerney, Michael Casey.
Sub: Ian Mulready for Sheedy. Other subs included: Martin McAuley, Frank McAuley, Sean Flynn, Padraig McNamara (RIP), David Fitzgerald, Corey Downes, Geoffrey Flynn.
Management: Gerry Meehan, Brian Corbett, Kevin “Trixie” Toomey
* In the semi final Martin McAuley started at corner forward while Frank McAuley lined out at midfield before picking up an injury to be replaced by Christy Chaplin
1997 – First U21 title in nearly ten years
Sixmilebridge 2-13 v Clarecastle 1-6
Sixmilebridge qualified for the 1997 U21 final with a number of the successful underage sides of the 90’s coming through. First up for the Pat Corbett managed side was a joust with Eire Óg with a 0-13 to 1-5 victory being recorded. This win set up a semi final clash with Whitegate where the East Clare side were put to the sword on a 1-14 to 2-9 scoreline therefore enabling a first U21 final appearance since 1988. Standing between the Bridge and glory was a quality Clarecastle side that were going for a three in a row at this grade. The final showdown took place on Saturday the 3rd of May at Cusack Park, Ennis. In a tightly contested first half at the park five Martin Conlon frees along with two efforts from team captain and Clare senior Niall Gilligan gave the contenders a 0-7 to 1-2 interval lead. After the break two crucial goals for the eventual winners from Mark Donnellan and an excellent Brian “Nails” Casey effort teed Pat Corbett’s troops up for a first U21 title in nine years.
Sixmilebridge 1997 U-21 champions. Back row (from left): Kieran O’Shea (selector), John Corbett (selector), Stiofán Fitzpatrick, Declan Sheedy, Barry Downes, Pat Hayes, Errol Tuohy, Eddie Russell, John Reddan, Noel Flannery, Declan Murphy, Ollie Fitzpatrick, Jim Spaight, Dr. Padraic Quinn (team doctor), Paddy Meehan (selector). Middle row (from left): Pat Corbett (manager), Mark Donnellan, Brian Casey, Kevin Phelan, John O’Meara, Martin Conlon, Niall Gilligan (captain), Cathal Walsh, Kevin Fitzpatrick, Johnny Swords, Brian O’Loughlin, Noel Murphy (selector). Front row (from left): Paul Corbett (mascot), Paul McNamara, Colm O’Loughlin, Colm Noonan, Jude Kearney, Fergal Landy, Adrian Chaplin, Ronan O’Shea (mascot).
Best for the winners included Declan Murphy, Pat Hayes, John Reddan, Stiofán Fitzpatrick, Martin Conlon, Niall Gilligan and Brian Casey. After the match Niall Gilligan accepted the trophy on behalf of the panel of players and team management. A few months later Gilligan added Munster and All-Ireland senior medals to his collection, thanks to Clare’s double victory over Tipperary, to go along with his club All-Ireland from 1996. Two other players from, this group also won All-Ireland club medals in ’96 namely Martin Conlon and Pat Hayes. Another three players from this team tasted All-Ireland minor success in September 1997 when John Reddan captained the Clare minor hurlers to the title with Stiofán Fitzpatrick and John O’Meara also playing important roles.
Sixmilebridge: Errol Tuohy; Ultan Heffernan, Declan Murphy, Cathal Walsh; Kevin Phelan, Pat Hayes, John Reddan; Barry Downes, Stiofán Fitzpatrick; Martin Conlon (0-9, 9 frees), Niall Gilligan (captain) (0-2), John O’Meara (0-1); Noel Flannery, Mark Donnellan (1-0), Brian Casey (1-1).
Sub: Johnny Swords for Flannery. Colm Noonan, Adrian Chaplin, Jim Spaight, Fergal Landy, Eddie Russell, Paul McNamara, Brian O’Loughlin, Colm O’Loughlin, Jude Kearney, Declan Sheedy, Ollie Fitzpatrick.
Management: Pat Corbett (manager), Kieran O’Shea, Paddy Meehan, John Corbett and Noel Murphy (selectors).
1998 - Murphy captains Bridge to tenth U21 title
Sixmilebridge 4-9 v 1-9 St. Joseph’s Doora/Barefield (after a replay)
In 1998 it took two games to separate Sixmilebridge and St. Joseph’s Doora/Barefield in the U21 hurling final. In reaching this stage the Bridge beat a fancied Clarecastle and town side Eire Óg to reach the decider. The first match took place on Sunday the 10th of May with the headline in the following week’s Clare Champion reading “A fitting result to an exciting final”. Seamus Hayes states that “having been level on seven different occasions during the course of this game it is fitting that they will have to meet again to decide the destination of the U21 A championship”. It was St. Joseph’s who enjoyed the better of the opening half and led by a goal at the short whistle (3-3 to 1-6). However, Sixmilebridge who last won this championship prior to this in 1988 fought back to level the match (1-12 to 3-6). Hayes records that “It was a day when the “big guns” did not stand out although some of them got through some good work”. Best for the Bridge were Cathal Walsh, Barry Downes, Errol Tuohy, Noel Flannery and especially Johnny Swords got through some good work for the defending champions. John Reddan and Stiofán Fitzpatrick had their moments in the second half”.
Sixmilebridge: Gerry O’Halloran; Jim Spaight, Declan Murphy (captain), Cathal Walsh; Kevin Phelan, John Reddan (0-1), Barry Downes; Johnny Swords (0-2), Fergal Landy, Noel Flannery (0-7, 6 frees), Brian Casey (0-1), Errol Tuohy (1-1); Padraig Flannery (0-1), Stiofán Fitzpatrick, Adrian Chaplin.
Sub: John O’Meara for Chaplin.
Sixmilebridge 1998 U-21 champions. Back row (from left): Stiofán Fitzpatrick, Kevin Phelan, John Reddan, Noel Flannery, John O’Meara, Gerry O’Halloran, Jim Spaight, Barry Downes. Front row (from left): Errol Tuohy, Johnny Swords, Adrian Chaplin, Fergal Landy, Brian Casey, Cathal Walsh.
The replay was not played until Sunday the 4th of October where on that occasion Sixmilebridge dominated proceeding after a getting a few early goals. There were a number of positional changes to the defending champions side with John O’Meara the only forward to line out in his selected position. The eventual winners got off to a blistering start and were 2-5 to 0-1 up after just six minutes with the St. Joseph’s defence unable to cope with John O’Meara and Brian Casey. Further scores saw the half time score 3-7 to 1-3 in favour of the Bridge. Try as they might there was to be no way back for St. Joseph’s as they lost out on a score line of 4-9 to 1-9. Those mentioned in the report as having played well are as follows “Declan Murphy was an inspiring captain for the winners at full back, Gerry O’Halloran did well between the posts while elsewhere Stiofán Fitzpatrick, John Reddan, John O’Meara, Noel Flannery and Brian Casey were always prominent”. Also in 1998 the club fielded a second side, which were unlucky to be defeated by Kilnamona in the U21 C final.
Sixmilebridge: Gerry O’Halloran; Jim Spaight, Declan Murphy (captain), Cathal Walsh; Kevin Phelan, John Reddan (0-1), Barry Downes; Johnny Swords (1-0), Fergal Landy, Errol Tuohy (0-1), Brian Casey (2-2), John O’Meara (0-2); Noel Flannery (1-3), Stiofán Fitzpatrick, Adrian Chaplin.
Subs: Padraig Flannery for N. Flannery, Colm Noonan, Eddie Russell, Brian O’Loughlin, Ollie Fitzpatrick, Jude Kearney, Mark Lynch, Robert Conlon, James Liddane, Kevin Fitzpatrick, Paul Fitzpatrick, Paul McNamara, Declan Sheedy.
Management: Pat Corbett (manager), Kieran O’Shea, John Corbett, Paddy Meehan, Noel Murphy.
* The U21 C side that reached the final included a number of the substitutes from the A side along with players such as Gregory Earls, Mikey Corbett, Gerry Maxwell, Johnny Corbett, Tadgh Keogh, Kieran and Rory Liddane, Tom Keogh, Damien Loughnane and Michael O’Halloran. The captain of the C side was Declan Sheedy, a video of this match can be seen in full on YouTube.
2002 - Chaplin the hero as Sixmilebridge win U21 championship
Sixmilebridge 1-11 v 3-4 Cratloe
In 2002 a good crop of players many of whom were on the senior championship winning team off the same year defeated near neighbours Cratloe in the final. Sixmilebridge were handed a bye in round 1 with a quarter final tie against the winners of Newmarket and Wolfe Tones. This game was actually played in O’Garney Park and ended in a hive of controversy with Wolfe Tones going through to meet the ‘Bridge. First day out the ‘Bridge v Tones game ended in a draw (1-5 to 0-8) before the Tagdh Keogh captained side got the better of the Shannon men in the replay. This game saw Sixmilebridge prevail by three points (0-16 v 2-7) with Gerry O’Halloran producing a few crucial saves. Next up were Clooney-Quin in the semi final where according to the Clare Champion report of the game Clooney were unlucky to come out the wrong side of a 3-9 to 3-7 scoreline. This set up an exciting final clash with neighbours Cratloe who just the year prior had won the U21 B.
Sixmilebridge 2002 U-21 champions. Back row (from left): Damien Loughnane, Ruairí Walsh, John Fahy, Cyril Crowe, Joseph O’Halloran, Rory Liddane, Michael Liddane, Gerry O’Halloran, Brian Culbert, Mark Culbert, Padraig Flannery, Tadgh Keogh (captain), Dermot Conlon, Damien Murray, David O’Connor. Front row (from left): Ciaran Dunne, Anthony Liddane, Martin Mulready, Paul Fitzpatrick, Brian Glynn, Ronan Hayes, Tommy Morey, Robert Conlon, Jonathan Downes, David O’Meara, Sean Chaplin, Daniel Collins, Ronan Keane.
The venue was Cusack Park, Ennis on Sunday the 28th April with the Cratloe men having the better of the exchanges in the first half. The Bridge had two changes in personnel to what was listed in the programme with Cyril Crowe match fit to take his place on the team and Tommy Morey coming into the team in place of David O’Meara. Cratloe led 2-3 to 1-2 at the break with Padraig Flannery the Bridge goal scorer. The favourites came back in the second half and eventually went on to win the contest thanks to a match winning point from substitute Sean Chaplin two minutes from time.
Opposing captains Tadgh Keogh (Sixmilebridge) and David O’Gorman (Cratloe) pictured with referee Seanie McMahon.
According to the Clare Champion report of the game Sean Chaplin’s two points were crucial with Tommy Morey, Paul Fitzpatrick, Mark and Brian Culbert, Robert Conlon, Tadgh Keogh and Padraig Flannery all playing well.
Sixmilebridge: Gerry O’Halloran; Michael Liddane, Tadgh Keogh (captain), Brian Glynn; Tommy Morey, Paul Fitzpatrick (0-3, frees), Jonathan Downes; Mark Culbert, Joe O’Halloran (0-1); Robert Conlon (0-2), Rory Liddane, Ronan Hayes; Brian Culbert, Cyril Crowe (0-1, free) and Padraig Flannery (1-2).
Sub: Sean Chaplin (0-2) for Brian Glynn. Ciaran Dunne, David O’Meara, Damien Loughnane, David O’Connor, Daniel Collins, Damien Murray, Dermot Conlon, Martin Mulready, John Fahy, Ruairí Walsh and Anthony Liddane.
Management: David Fitzgerald, Sean Stack, John O’Meara, Danny Chaplin.
* Paul Murphy featured as a sub in the first game with Wolfe Tones.
2003 – Bridge lower the Magpies
Sixmilebridge 1-10 v 1-9 Clarecastle
The year of 2003 brought another U21 title back to the parish and another two in a row. First up for the reigning champions was a quarter final duel with Tubber where a late David O’Connor free was needed to secure a draw (0-9 v 0-9) with the North Clare team. The replay a week later was a one sided affair as the ‘Bridge made no mistake this time out with a convincing 4-11 to 2-4 victory. Standing in the way of the ‘Bridge and another U21 final appearance was Cratloe in a repeat of the 2002 final. Here after an epic sixty minutes the sides were deadlocked before Sixmilebridge got over the line after extra time by 1-12 to 1-11. A worrying side to this match was the ankle injury Brian Culbert picked up in the game however by the time the final came around the team captain was able to take his place in the starting line up. Thanks to this victory a chance of a two in a row loomed on Sunday the 4th of May 2003 as Sixmilebridge squared up to Clarecastle in the U21 final.
Programme of 2003 final
The final saw one change to the Bridge side with Cyril Crowe recovering from injury to start instead of Damien Murray, and Brian Culbert and Sean Chaplin switching positions. The match itself was a tight affair with captain Brian Culbert’s goal being crucial along with Cyril Crowe’s point scoring. Sixmilebridge had good performances from Brian Glynn, Tommy Morey, Jonathan Downes, the Culbert’s, Anthony Liddane, Sean Chaplin and Cyril Crowe ensuring victory and title number eleven.
Sixmilebridge: Paul O’Halloran; David O’Meara, Brian Glynn, Michael Liddane; Anthony Liddane, Tommy Morey (0-1), Jonathan Downes; Mark Culbert, John Fahy; Daniel Collins, Brian Culbert (captain) (1-1), Damien Keogh; Cyril Crowe (0-6), Sean Chaplin, David O’Connor (0-2).
Subs: Ruairí Walsh for Collins, Aidan Quilligan for Keogh, Ciaran Dunne, Damien Murray, Patrick Punch, Dermot Conlon, Roy Kennedy, Kenneth McGrath, Martin Mulready.
Management: Pat Morey (management), Pat Chaplin, Sean Corbett, Syl O’Connor.
2009 - Bridge upset the odds to end six year drought
Sixmilebridge 1-14 v Crusheen 0-10
Title number twelve came along in 2009 with an impressive campaign accumulating in final success. The opening round saw the Bridge hammer Wolfe Tones 6-8 to 0-6 at Newmarket before a fine display from Caimin Morey (0-13) along with a crucial goal from Thomas Liddy ensured the Bridge reached the last four thanks to a 1-14 to 1-13 win over Clooney-Quin in an epic game played in Newmarket. This set up a semi final clash with near neighbours Cratloe where a 0-15 to 0-10 victory was recorded at Clarecastle to set up a final duel with Crusheen. With Cusack Park unavailable the final was played in Clarecastle on Sunday the 19th of April with Ger Lyons from Ruan the man in the middle.
Sixmilebridge 2009 U-21 champions. Back row (from left): Corey Downes (selector), Paul Kinnerk (trainer), Caimin Morey, Ronan O’Shea, Declan Morey, Shane Golden, Barry O’Connor, Paidí Fitzpatrick, Eoin Quinn, Barry Deasy, Paul Corbett, Christy Griffin, John Fennessy, Trevor Purcell, Sam O’Sullivan, Darragh O’Connor, Ger Quilligan (vice captain), Noel Purcell, Kevin Phelan (selector), Jude Kearney (selector). Front row (from left): Keith Walker (selector), Ronan Keane (team attendant), Robert McNamara, Ray McNamara, Caimin Barrett, Sean Stack (manager), Ronan Mullane, Thomas Liddy, Rory Shanahan (captain), Derek Fahy, Patrick Sheehan, Stephen Fleming, Kevin Lynch.
A complete team performance along with an excellent Declan Morey goal brought the U21 cup back to the parish for the first time in six years. As for the final itself Sixmilebridge led at the break by two points 0-7 v 0-5 before Morey got the crucial goal midway through the second half when the sides were deadlocked at 0-9 apiece. The Bridge kicked on from here with points from Caimin Morey and substitutes Ronan Mullane and Kevin Lynch which saw them run out 1-14 to 0-10 victors. Those who stood out for the Bridge and got mentioned in the local media for their performances were the Purcell brothers – Noel and Trevor, Eoin Quinn, Barry O’Connor, Paidí Fitzpatrick, team captain Rory Shanahan, Caimin and Declan Morey, and substitute Ronan Mullane.
Sixmilebridge: Derek Fahy; Noel Purcell, Eoin Quinn, Ger Quilligan; John Fennessy, Paidi Fitzpatrick, Trevor Purcell; Barry O’Connor (0-2 (1 lineball)), Shane Golden; Caimin Morey (0-8; 4 frees, 2 65’s), Rory Shanahan (captain), Christy Griffin; Thomas Liddy, Declan Morey (1-1), Sam O’Sullivan.
Subs: Ronan Mullane (0-2) for O’Sullivan, Kevin Lynch (0-1) for Liddy. Stephen Fleming, Darragh O’Connor, Paul Corbett, Ronan O’Shea, Pa Sheehan, Caimin Barrett, Robert McNamara, Barry Deasy, Ray McNamara.
Management: Sean Stack (Manager), Paul Kinnerk (Trainer), Corey Downes, Jude Kearney, Kevin McInerney, Kevin Phelan and Keith Walker.
Team Attendant: Ronan Keane.
Thanks to all who helped in any way. In particular thanks to Tadgh Keogh (2002 photo’s), Tom Keogh (1997-98, 02-03 programmes) and Declan Murphy (website). It is inevitable that there could be inaccuracies in this, anyone that was left out in this please be aware it was not deliberate. Match programmes of 1980, 1997-98,02-03 and 09 were allocated along with some photos with every final being well reported on in the Clare Champion. Unfortunately, as no full team photos or programmes of the remaining years could be located this made it hard to locate information on these years aside from the starting fifteen and sub’s that played.
Sources of information
Various articles from the Clare Champion (1971, 73, 79-81, 86-89, 97-98, 02-03, 09), Clare People match report of 09 final, Clare Courier match report of 09 final, old match programmes, 1997 U21 final video (thanks to Paul Corbett), photographs, Sixmilebridge parish magazines 1991-95, and various Clare GAA yearbooks.