Today is the final day of our trip down memory
lane. We start off with 2000 when Sixmilebridge beat Eire Og, Ennis in the
final. From here we progressed to Munster and clinching the cup with a defeat
of Mount Sion before losing out in the All-Ireland semi-final to
Graigue-Ballycallan after a replay. The following year we again reached the
final but lost out to St. Joseph's Doora/Barefield before winning our last
title in 2002 with the Christy "Rusty" Chaplin led team beating
Clarecastle in the final.
2000 – Gilligan Fires ‘Bridge
Sixmilebridge 4-9 v
1-8 Eire Og
Hopes were high of success in the late 90’s/early
00’s with a number of the 1996 All-Ireland club champions blending their
experience with the youth from the 1997-98 U21 title winning teams. In 1999
they got to the final only to be beaten by All-Ireland club champions St.
Joseph’s Doora/Barefield so one sensed the ‘Bridge were on the way back once
more. This proved true in the Millennium year as they beat Eire Og of Ennis in
the final. First, let us look at the path to the final. As a result of
receiving a bye in round one we advanced to the quarter-final where we overcame
a Barry Murphy led Scariff (3-12 to 3-3) before facing Kilmaley in the
semi-final. In what was a repeat of the previous years’ clash we narrowly edged
out the Kilmaley men by 2-15 to 1-16 thanks to goals from Robert Conlon and
John Chaplin to advance to a meeting with the Townies. Anytime the ‘Bridge and Eire
Og clashed in a senior final there was always a tight tussle so nothing less
than that was expected on county final day.
The headline in the paper the following Thursday
read “Gilligan’s Brilliance Leaves Eire
Og Reeling” with Sixmilebridge
clinching a ninth ever senior title. Our Ennis opponents were aiming for a
unique double having a week earlier won the senior football crown by seeing off
Doonbeg in the final. However, once Davy Fitzgerald sent a 14th minute penalty crashing to the back of the Eire Og net
to send the ‘Bridge into the lead, the tide was with the ‘95 champions and they
kept the advantage until the end with Niall Gilligan in scintillating form.
Former Kildangan, Tipperary club man and present Clooney-Quin hurler Cathal
Egan got the games opening score from a free before Fergus Flynn added to it.
Then the foul on Martin Conlon gave Fitzgerald the penalty, which he
dispatched, before Gilligan hit four in a row to rattle the Townies. They
fought back gallantly with efforts from Fergus Flynn and Tomas Corbett (2) to
leave them trailing by a goal at the break, 1-5 to 0-6.
SIXMILEBRIDGE – Clare Senior Hurling Champions 2000. Back (left to right): Kevin McInerney, Declan Murphy, John O’Connell, Pat
Hayes, Brian Culbert, Davy Fitzgerald, Colm Fitzgerald (mascot), John Reddan,
Alan Mulready, Wayne Kennedy. Front (left to right): Martin Conlon, John Chaplin, Christy Chaplin
(captain), Eanna Chaplin (mascot), Brian Kennedy, Niall Gilligan, Robert
Unfortunately for them just after the restart Niall
Gilligan raced past a number of defenders before rattling the net. It got
better for the Paddy Meehan managed ‘Bridge six minutes later when Brian Kennedy
goaled from thirty yards before three minutes after Martin Conlon netted. These
crucial goals put their side in the driving seat and from here on in there was
no doubt as to the destination of the Canon Hamilton trophy. Still, the Ennis
men battled to the end and saw Davy Fitzgerald save a Fergus Flynn penalty on
40 minutes as further scores from Gilligan put twelve between the teams before
All-Ireland winner Stephen McNamara grabbed a late consolation goal four
minutes from time.
Clare Champion reporter
Seamus Hayes had praise for a number of ‘Bridge players in his report “Overall, they were never in trouble after the first
quarter, and in addition to the brilliant Gilligan, they had good performances
from Davy Fitzgerald, Pat Hayes, Declan Murphy, Martin Conlon, Christy Chaplin
and Alan Mulready.”
After the game Clare county board Chairman Fr.
Michael McNamara presented the Canon Hamilton trophy to ‘Bridge captain Christy
“Rusty” Chaplin. Interestingly “Rusty” emulated his brother John and Sean Stack
in captaining the club to success on two occasions.
Fitzgerald (1-0; 1-0 pen); Kevin McInerney, John O’Connell, Wayne Kennedy; Alan
Mulready (0-1), Pat Hayes, Declan Murphy; John Reddan (0-1), Christy Chaplin
(Capt); Brian Kennedy (1-0), Martin Conlon (1-0), Robert Conlon; Brian Culbert,
Niall Gilligan (1-7; 0-5fs), John Chaplin.
Chaplin for Mulready, Rory Liddane for R.Conlon, Cathal Walsh, Stiofán
Fitzpatrick, Gerry O’Halloran, John O’Meara, Paul Fitzpatrick, Noel Flannery,
Danny Chaplin, Tadgh Keogh, Darragh O’Loughlin.
Meehan (manager), Noel Murphy, Kieran O’Shea and Leo Quinlan (selectors).
2002 Reddan Inspires ‘Bridge
To A Tenth Title
Sixmilebridge 3-10 v
A third final on the trot ended in defeat to St.
Joseph’s Doora/Barefield in 2001 with the ‘Bridge reaching a fourth final in a
row for the first time in the history of the club. Paddy Meehan’s troops
started out with two opening victories over Eire Og (2-16 to 1-8) and O’Callaghan’s
Mills (2-15 to 0-11). Round 3 saw a repeat of the 2001 final with a brilliant
performance seeing us defeat the Parish by 4-14 to 1-12, as we qualified for
the last eight. This set up a clash with Whitegate where a narrow 2-10 to 2-8
win was recorded with John Chaplin hitting an incredible 2-8 from his centre
back position. Then at the semi final stage an old rivalry was reawaken as we
faced Newmarket, here after a tough contest we qualified for the final thanks
to a 2-13 to 0-11 win. Our opponents in the final were Clarecastle, a third
ever final meeting between the two.
In what was a first final meeting of these two
great rivals in thirteen years a dominant first half ended with wind assisted
Sixmilebridge ahead by 2-8 to 0-3. While this to the naked eye might appear to
be a comprehensive lead the report informs us that a quick 2-1 in the last two
minutes of the half gave the ‘Bridge a commanding lead.
“Two goals in the last two minutes of the first
half had a major bearing on the outcome of this game. Given the strength of the
wind, which blew, directly down the field from the town end, Clarecastle would
have been quite pleased to go to the break trailing by five points. This was
the position with just two minutes to go in the opening half but then Cyril
Crowe and substitute John O’Meara struck and from here on Clarecastle had a
mountain to climb.”
The mountain was made more of a challenge seven
minutes after the break when top scorer John Reddan goaled with a magnificent
strike. Clarecastle battled away and with two minutes remaining they were
eleven adrift. However two goals from the Fitzgerald’s – Dermot and Robert
along set up a tight finish but time was not on the Magpies side.
Seamus Hayes concluded with the following
assessment. “Sixmilebridge were worthy
winners on a day when their defence did very well throughout with Pat Hayes
magnificent at full back and Cathal Walsh doing very well on the wing. As
always, Christy Chaplin got through a lot of work at midfield while John Reddan
and Niall Gilligan were always prominent up front with Cyril Crowe making a
very valuable contribution.“
SIXMILEBRIGDE – Clare Senior Hurling Champions 2002. Back (left to right): David Fitzgerald, Kevin “Socks” McInerney, Tommy
Morey, John O’Meara, Paul Fitzpatrick, Stiofán Fitzpatrick, John Reddan, Alan
Mulready, Gerry O’Halloran, Wayne Kennedy, Pat Hayes, Mark Culbert, Brian
Culbert, Cyril Crowe, Ronan Hayes, Michael Liddane, Declan Murphy. Front (left to right): Sean Chaplin, Joe O’Halloran, Brian Kennedy, Ronan
Keane (team attendant), Christy Chaplin (captain), Cathal Walsh, Adrian
Chaplin, Tadgh Keogh, John Chaplin, Niall Gilligan, Jonathan Downes, David O’Connor
and Paudge Flannery.
After the match captain Christy “Rusty” Chaplin
fittingly called on the ‘01 captain Davy Fitzgerald to raise the cup aloft with
him as both were presented the trophy by the late Fr. Michael McNamara, the
then chairman of the county board.
Fitzgerald; Wayne Kennedy (0-1), Pat Hayes, Tadgh Keogh; Alan Mulready, John
Chaplin (0-1), Cathal Walsh; Mark Culbert, Christy Chaplin (Capt); Cyril Crowe
(1-1), John Reddan (1-3), Stiofán Fitzpatrick; Brian Culbert, Niall Gilligan
(0-4; 0-1f), Adrian Chaplin.
O’Meara (1-0) for A.Chaplin, Paul Fitzpatrick for M.Culbert, Jonathan Downes,
Sean Chaplin, Michael Liddane, Brian Kennedy, Ronan Hayes, Kevin McInerney,
Tommy Morey, Declan Murphy, David O’Connor, Gerry O’Halloran, Joseph O’Halloran,
Meehan (manager), Danny Chaplin, Kieran O’Shea, Leo Quinlan (selectors).