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Down Memory Lane - County Finals of the 00s
Friday, 21st October 2011
Submitted by Senior Club PRO

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 To Glory

 

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 Conlon.

 

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.

 

Sixmilebridge: David 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.

 

Subs: Adrian 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.

 

Management: Paddy Meehan (manager), Noel Murphy, Kieran O’Shea and  Leo Quinlan (selectors).

 

 

2002 Reddan Inspires ‘Bridge To A Tenth Title

 

Sixmilebridge 3-10 v 2-8 Clarecastle

 

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.

 

Sixmilebridge: David 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.

 

Subs: John 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, Padraig Flannery.

 

Management: Paddy Meehan (manager), Danny Chaplin, Kieran O’Shea, Leo Quinlan (selectors).

 

About the Author - Senior Club PRO

Caimin Barrett became PRO of Sixmilebridge GAA Club in 2011. He has hurled for the Club all his life and won a Junior B Championship medal in 2010. To contact him regarding the website or any other PRO activities, please email Caimin

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