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Minor County Finals - Down Memory Lane
Wednesday, 9th November 2011
Submitted by Senior Club PRO

The Bridge have won 12 Minor A hurling titles since their first in 1970. The last title was won 10 years ago in 2001. The Bridge have lost the last 3 Minor finals and face Ballyea in this years final on Saturday where they will be hoping to win the Willie Chaplin Cup. Willie was a Bridge stalwart and father of the current Senior manager Rusty.

1970 – Cra Captains Bridge To Historic First
 
Sixmilebridge 3-8 v Smith O’Brien’s 1-5
 
History was made in 1970 when the minor hurlers of Sixmilebridge reached new ground by clinching a very first minor A championship.  This made up for the near misses over the past including the 1969 defeat as this side banished those memories with a fine performance as the match reporter in the Clare Champion tells us.
 

“So near and yet so far in recent years, the Bridge had their hour of glory at Dr. Daly Memorial Park, Tulla on Sunday, when they beat Smith O’Brien’s (Killaloe) just as convincingly as the 3-8 to 1-5 scoreline suggests to win the 1970 Clare Minor hurling championship”

 
The report tells us that the ‘Bridge held a 0-4 to 0-2 upper hand at the half way stage despite Martin McKeogh and Paul Moloney enjoying their share of possession for the Killaloe side at midfield. Sixmilebridge really upped the performance in the second half with an early goal from Tony Reddan setting them on their way.
 
“The second half saw a complete transformation as the Bridge, urged on by an early goal from Tony Reddan, got on top in all sectors and with Dan Collins and Reddan obliging again, the Bridge were well on their way to victory by the turn of the last quarter”
 
Paul Moloney, now operating in the forwards, got a late goal for Smith O’Brien’s to give them a slight chance but points from Michael Corbett and Clonlara man Colm Honan, with the report stating Honan came into his own in the second half, ensured the win. Chirsty “Cra” Murray accepted the Minor A cup after the match from Dan Cunningham (Feakle) Vice-Chairman, Bórd na nÓg as the ‘Bridge team returned home from Tulla as champions.

Christy Murray receives the cup from Dan Cunningham
 
Sixmilebridge: Christy Murphy; Christy Murray (Capt), PJ Fitzpatrick, Flan Lynch; Tommy Collins, Eamonn McInerney, Tony Keogh; Colm Honan, Sean Stack; Michael Corbett, Flan Collins, Jim Roughan; Tony Reddan, Patsy Casey (RIP), Paddy Mulready.
 
Sub: John Frost.
Other Subs Included: John Crowe, Tim Crowe.
 
Management: Pat Lonergan (RIP), Mickey Murphy (RIP), Ted Deegan (RIP), Fr. James Minogue
 

SIXMILEBRIDGE – 1970 Minor County Champions. 
 
* Not everyone could be identified in the above picture so until a full list of the above is got then it wont be put up. Anyone that can identify anyone from the picture above, please email mailto:pro.sixmilebridge.clare@gaa.ie. Also if there is anyone missing from the picture please let us know.
 
 
1976 – Bridge Pip Clarecastle
 
Sixmilebridge 1-8 v Clarecastle 1-7
 
The year of 1976 saw Christy O’Connor emulate Christy Murray in captaining a ‘Bridge minor team to “A” glory. They beat Clarecastle in a closely fought final with the headline of the Clare Champion report declaring “Bridge pip Clarecastle in brilliant minor final”. The match reporter must have held this game in high regard as they described it as one of the best ever-minor finals of all time.
 
“THE GENERAL consensus after Sixmilebridge’s one-point win over Clarecastle at Tulla on Sunday was that this game was one of the most memorable finals of all time. The hurling was fast and furious and the result was hanging in the balance right up to the dying moments of the game”
 
The ‘Bridge played with the aid of a strong breeze in the first half and led 0-6 to 0-1 at the break before Clarecastle used this breeze to their aid in the second half. It appears from reading the report that first time ground hurling was plentiful in this final and thrilled the sizeable attendance at Tulla. The Magpies were soon within striking distance of their opponents after the restart only for Seamus O’Shea to hit an important goal for the ‘Bridge. While, Clarecastle did get a goal and a point to make for an interesting final few minutes the ‘Bridge held on. The match reporter states the following on those who played well
 
“For the champions Christy Connors at full back was really in great form and so also was Leo Quinlan. Quinlan experienced considerable difficulty in curtailing the activities of young Clarecastle wing forward Michael Healy in the opening half, but he came into his own as the game progressed. Flan Quilligan was playing a major part in keeping pressure on the Clarecastle defence, operating from mid-field. Substitute Seamus O’Shea scored a memorable goal in the second-half and was in hard luck for another. Tommy Morey at centre back for the ‘Bridge was a tower of strength”.
 
Sixmilebridge: Sean Corbett; Jim Corbett, Christy O’Connor (Captain), Brian McNamara; John Brennan, Tommy Morey, Mike Morey; Leo Quinlan, Flan Quilligan; Paddy Meehan, Jim Loughnane, Gerry McInerney; Pat Corbett, Gerry Meehan, John Hassett.
 
Sub: Seamus O’Shea for Hassett.
 
Other Subs: No subs were listed but some of those would have included the likes Kieran O’Shea, Mike Fitzpatrick, Enda Quinlan, Tom Sheehan, Martin Corry, Dermot Murphy, Jim Brennan, Sean Keane and Mark Hassett.
 
Management: Pat Chaplin (manager), Noel Murphy (RIP), Flan McInerney, Tim Crowe.
 
 
1977 – ‘Bridge Retain Minor Title In Thriller
 
Sixmilebridge 2-4 v 1-5 Newmarket
 
The year of 1977 was an historic one for the club with a first ever-senior crown. Underage success gave members of that team a platform for success and the continued good crop of youngsters coming through the ranks claimed another championship at the expense of Newmarket.
 
The report in the Clare Champion had the headline “’Bridge Retain Minor Title In Thriller” as the ‘Bridge beat the Blues in Dr. Daly Park, Tulla. The reporter had this to say about the game “This game produced some great passages of hurling and in fairness it must be said that the ‘Bridge were a little lucky to retain the title as a draw would have been a more fair result on the day”.
 
In a closely contested first half Sixmilebridge held a narrow one-point lead at the short whistle. Newmarket took an early lead with a point before the ‘Bridge responded in the best possible manner with a green flag. This came about after a Leo Quinlan penalty, which the reporter advises us was miss hit, provided the ‘Bridge with the opening goal and more importantly the lead. The team captain’s penalty was saved by the Newmarket defence but they failed to clear their lines and in popped Gerry McInerney who rattled the ‘Blues net to give his team a 1-0 to 0-1 lead. Both teams traded scores from here to the break with the defending champions 1-2 to 0-4 ahead.
 
The topsy turvy nature of the game is perhaps best described in the reporters analysis of the second half “The winners increased their lead with a point from a ’70 against the breeze by Flan Quilligan early in the second half. Shortly afterwards Newmarket took the lead when full back John Ryan crashed a 21 metre free to the net. However, the lead was short lived as Gerry McInerney scored another opportunist goal to restore the advantage to the winners. In the final ten minutes Newmarket tried extremely hard for the winning goal but the winners defence stood firm”.
 
In finishing the report there was special praise for a number of ‘Bridge players “For Sixmilebridge Flan Quilligan was unquestionably the man of the match. He really gave an outstanding performance and all during the game he was here there and everywhere to lend assistance to his team mates. He received most assistance from goalkeeper Pat Collins, Martin Corry, John Brennan, Gerry McInerney and Leo Quinlan. “ The reporter also has special praise for Newmarket’s Seanie McMahon and states that if there was a man of a match award it would have been between Quilligan and McMahon. After the game Bord na n-Óg chairman Mr. Des Crowe (Ruan) presented the trophy to Leo Quinlan the ‘Bridge captain.
 
It does not list the ‘Bridge team or the scorers but a number of the 1976 team would have featured in this success. Indeed, below we can get an example of what the panel might have been from taking into account the 1980 U21 winning team. No doubt there were others who were part of this minor success.
 
Sixmilebridge: Pat Collins, Brian McNamara, Jim Corbett, Kieran O’Shea, Mike Morey, John Brennan, Enda Quinlan, Leo Quinlan (Captain), Flan Quilligan, Martin Corry, Paddy Meehan, Seamus O’Shea, Gerry McInerney, Gerry Meehan, John Lynch, Gerry Corry, Jimmy Morey, Flan McInerney, Tom Sheehan, Mike Fitzpatrick, Dermot Murphy, Pat Corbett, Sean Keane, Mark Hassett, Jim Brennan.
 
Management: Kevin “Trixie” Twomey (manager) (RIP)
 
* Anyone with more information on the panel, management or even if someone has a picture of the team then please let us know
 
1979 – Bunda And Company Deny The Townies
 
Sixmilebridge 3-6 v 2-3 Éire Óg
 
Again just like two years previously the last year of the 70s proved to be one of the most successful with three championships being obtained at minor, U21 and senior. Five players were to play their part in these successes namely Gerry McInerney, Paddy Meehan, Enda Quinlan, Pat Collins and Seamus O’Shea. While, seven players including McInerney, Quinlan and Collins along with Martin Corry, Flan McInerney, Jimmy Morey, and Gerry Corry tasted Harty and Croke success with St. Flannan’s. Magow captained that particular side while his team mate Enda “Bunda” Quinlan captained the ‘Bridge to minor glory the same year.
 
In the final they beat Éire Óg by six points with an impressive display paving the path to glory. Clare Champion journalist Austin Hobbs points to the deciding difference in settling this tie “The main difference between the sides was in the overall balance of the teams. While Eire Og had easily the greater individual players, it was the Bridge who dominated through the fielding of a well blended and skillful side, all of whom are cogs in a well primed hurling machine. Nevertheless the different styles of each teams gave rise to some delightful play in spite of a very greasy surface and intermittent rain. Exchanges were fast and furious, but in the main clean and sporting.”
 
Sixmilebridge enjoyed the better of the opening moments with Martin Corry opening the scoring after five minutes. This was followed by a goal from a 20 metre free by Gerry McInerney before he added a point soon after. However the Townies fought back and withheld pressure from their opponents and got an important goal before half time to leave them 1-4 to 1-2 behind at the half way mark. Just two minutes into the second half Éire Óg goalie Eoin McMahon produced a marvellous save but on hand was ‘Bridge sub John Kelly who razor sharp tapped the ball into the net. Indeed, it would not be the last time he would rattle the Townies net on the day, as he was to get the defining score on 45 minutes. However before then both sides traded scores with Pat Collins also making a great save from a rocketing 30-metre strike from Noel Galvin. Hobbs tells us that Kelly’s smartly taken goal with fifteen left to play was the deciding score as he beat McMahon to the ball and flicked it to the side with his hurley before shipping the ball over the line. Éire Óg fought back and got the goal of the game through Pat Lynch but Sixmilebridge held on for a six point win
 
In wrapping up the report Hobbs gives praise to the following “The most impressive players for Sixmilebridge were wing forward Gerry Corry, Enda Quinlan (capt.), Flan McInerney, Martin Corry, Jim Morey and Gerry McInerney. Substitute Jack Kelly also impressed”
 
Team captain Enda Quinlan received the cup from Michael McTighue, the hurling board secretary, after the game.
 
Sixmilebridge: Pat Collins; Peter Quinn, James “Ribs” Mulready (RIP), Aidan McNamara; Noel O’Gorman, Enda Quinlan (Captain), Flan McInerney; Martin Corry (0-1), Paddy Meehan; Gerry Corry (0-1), John Lynch, Jimmy Morey (0-1); Gerry McInerney (1-2), Seamus O’Shea (0-1), Sean Keane.
 
Subs: John Kelly (2-0) (RIP) for Keane.
Again as no further information could be got it makes it almost impossible to get a full panel list. However, we can safely assume that a number of the 1980 panel were part of this success as well. Again, anyone with more information is invited to contact us.
 
Management: Kevin “Trixie” Twomey (manager) (RIP), Mike Morey
 
SIXMILEBRIDGE – 1979 Minor Hurling Champions. Back (left to right): John Lynch, James Mulready (RIP), Aidan McNamara, Paddy Meehan, Martin Corry, Gerry McInerney, Seamus O’Shea, Noel O’Gorman. Front (left to right): Pat Collins, Jimmy Morey, Sean Keane, Enda Quinlan, Flan McInerney, Gerry Corry, Peter Quinn.
 
1980 – ‘Bridge Retain Minor Crown
 

Sixmilebridge 3-14 v 1-2 Feakle

 
Following on from the previous years final victory this side claimed the minor title in style after a comprehensive win over Feakle. The Clare Champion report by Seamus Hayes captures the one sided nature of this contest in the following paragraph
 
“Holders, Sixmilebridge, easily retained the Clare minor hurling title when they proved far too strong for Feakle at Dr. Daly Park, Tulla on Sunday. The winners were the classier side throughout and but for a number of good interceptions by Seamus McGrath at full back for the losers, it is fair to say that the ‘Bridge would have had much more to spare in the end”
 
Indeed, such was the ‘Bridge dominance that they held their opponents scoreless until the last six minutes of the match. The score was 2-5 to no score at the break with Hayes praising Feakle for their defending, but it was two goals neat the break that put the reigning champions in pole position. After twenty-four minutes the first arrived
 
“Noel O’Gorman won possession at midfield and raced through the Feakle defence to crash the ball to the net. Disaster struck for Feakle two minutes later when one of their defenders deflected a cross from Brian O’Shea to the net and indeed this goal was the real “Killer” for the losers.”
 
 
              

SIXMILEBRIDGE – 1980 Minor County Champions

 
Pat Collins got the first score of the second half for Sixmilebridge before they went on to add 0-8 in the next fifteen minutes “one of these was a tremendous score from 15 year old wing back Seamus Cusack, who had a tremendous game. With just six minutes to go the winners had their third goal from Brian O’Shea gained possession from a Seamus Cusack free and crashed the sliotar to the net.”
 
Feakle had their scores from Val Donnellan who netted their goal before Tommy Guilfoyle and Donal McGrath added points. In finishing the report Seamus Hayes states 
 
“The Bridge were a far superior side on the day and deserved their success. They had a very strong half back trio of Seamus Cusack, Danny Chaplin and Flan McInerney who were on top throughout. Young Cusack was particularly prominent and certainly must have a bright future. Noel O’Gorman and Jimmy Morey had their moments at midfield while up front Gerry Corry, Pat Collins, John Kelly and John Lynch were always dangerous”
 
The Clare Champion journalist also felt that Seamus Cusack was a little unlucky not to have picked up the man of the match gong with Seamus McGrath of Feakle getting the award.
 
Sixmilebridge: Eamonn Healy; Derry McNamara, Peter Quinn, Pat Quinn (RIP); Seamus Cusack (0-1); Danny Chaplin, Flan McInerney; Noel O’Gorman (1-0), Jimmy Morey, Gerry Corry (Captain) (0-7), Pat Collins (0-1), John Kelly (0-3) (RIP); Brian O’Shea (2-1), Liam Maxwell, John Lynch (0-1).
 
Subs: Anyone that can identify anyone from the picture above, please email mailto:pro.sixmilebridge.clare@gaa.ie.Apologies for quality of picture!
 
Management: Joe O’Halloran (manager) (RIP), Paddy Meehan, Kevin “Trixie” Twomey (RIP).
 
* Interestingly Feakle went on to revenge this defeat courtesy of their U21 final victory over the ‘Bridge in 1983. A number of that side including Val Donnellan and Tommy and Mike Guilfoyle played in the ’80 minor final.
 
 
1983 – ‘Bridge Down ‘Magpies’ To Take Minor Double

 

Sixmilebridge 3-14 v Clarecastle 3-5

 
After a lapse of three years the minor cup returned to the parish thanks to a commanding victory over Clarecastle. In his match report of the final Clare Champion journalist and Sixmilebridge man Gerry McInerney alluded to the dominance of the ‘Bridge midfield in this tie.
 
“A midfield dominance was the launching pad for Sixmilebridge minor hurlers to turn in a rousing second quarter which in hindsight put them on the road to victory as they outpointed Clarecastle to complete the second leg of the minor double at windswept Cusack Park on Sunday evening“
 
This decisive quarter occurred in the first half where they hit 2-7 without reply to gain a foothold on the final and significantly lead 2-10 to 0-1 at the short whistle. As the saying goes “goals win games” and this old adage proved to be true for Sixmilebridge with John Chaplin kick starting the dominant spell when he sent over two points before two goals in two attacks. The first one was a fine solo effort from Mike Corry and the other a speculative 65 metre shot from Henry Hehir that deceived Tommy Hegarty in the Clarecastle goal. On the changeover Declan McInerney had a point to extend the lead to sixteen points before James Lillis scored a goal for the vanquished. While this did give them a small bit of hope it was not long before their hopes were dashed as the final nail was drove into the Magpies coffin when the ‘Bridge got goal number three.
 
 “At the turn of the final quarter the winners had a fortuitous goal when a free from Declan McInerney hit the post and Henry Hehir lashed the ball to the net.“
 
Approaching the final five minutes the ‘Bridge were on their way to success being 3-13 to 2-3 in front before Ger “Sparrow” O’Loughlin hit a quickfire 1-2 for the Magpies but it was too late as title number six was brought back to the O’Garney. In concluding his report the Sixmilebridge man signalled out the following for their performances.
 
 “The Bridge were well served on the day by Brendan Flynn, Seamus Cusack, Henry Hehir, John Chaplin, Brian Barron, Mike Corry, Eamon Healy, Declan McInerney and Colm Reidy”
 
Sixmilebridge: Brendan Flynn; Mike Egan, Seamus Cusack (Captain), Leo Mulready; Henry Hehir (2-0), John O’Connell (0-1), Noel Casey; John Chaplin (0-2), Brian Barron; Mike Corry (1-2), Colm Reidy, Kevin Murray; Eamon Healy (0-2), James Collins (0-1), Declan McInerney (0-6).
 
Subs: Pat Keane for Healy. Gerry Keogh, Mike Twomey, Sean Flynn, Richard Flynn, Mike Sheedy, Kevin McInerney, Seamus Hennessy.
 
Management: Christy Murray (manager), Eamon Keane, Paddy Meehan, Joe O’Halloran, Seamus O’Halloran.
 
 
SIXMILEBRIDGE – Minor Champions 1983 – Back (left to right): Colm Reidy, Mike Twomey, Pat Keane, James Collins, Eamonn Healy, Kevin Murray, John O’Connell, Brian Barron, Leo Mulready, Mike Egan, Seamus Hennessy, John Chaplin. Front (left to right): Gerry Keogh, Richard Flynn, Kevin McInerney, Sean Flynn, Henry Hehir, Brendan Flynn, Seamus Cusack, Declan McInerney, Mike Corry, Noel Casey, Pat Sheedy.
 
1984 – Bridge Retain Title
 
Sixmilebridge 2-7 v Wolfe Tones 1-8
 
A two in a row for this bunch of players was there for the taking when they squared up to Wolfe Tones in the 1984 final. In what was tight affair the ‘Bridge came away with a two point win and of course the cup. The Clare Champion journalist Austin Hobbs advised in his report that Wolfe Tones made little headway up front highlighted by their 0-1 from play over the hour. He had this to say about the ‘Bridge forward division
 
“The champions had not too much to be elated about in the way of forward play either with the exception of the performance of corner forward, Declan McInerney who scored 1-5 of Sixmilebridge’s total. McInerney hurled magnificently particularly in the second half when, in a three minute spell, he scored three points and laid on a goal to put the ‘Bridge into control”. From reading the report this final match up had all the ingredients of a local derby, with the following paragraph highlighting the less than savoury particles of this contest.
 
“One of the most unsavoury aspects of the game was the number of off the ball incidents, most of which went unchecked by referee Michael Clohessy, though to be fair players were booked. Players on both sides quite openly used the hurleys on their opposite number and two in particular should have received their marching orders”.
 
As for the match itself, Sixmilebridge got off to the best possible start with an early goal from James Collins before Liam Alford hit over three frees for the Tones by the 17th minute. There was a flurry of scores in the final five minutes of the half with Declan McInerney and Michael Corry scoring for the ‘Bridge and Alford getting two for the Shannon side. This left the sides deadlocked at the interval, 1-2 to 0-5. Liam Alford sent Wolfe Tones into the lead with a pointed free on the resumption. McInerney then sprung the ‘Bridge into life with two points before setting up Michael Corry for the goal. This gave them a four point lead and soon after the ‘Bridge corner forward pointed again. Alford, who finished with 1-7, replied back for his side only for McInerney to reply in kind.
 
The reporter goes on to tell us that Wolfe Tones made little headway against the ‘Bridge defence “Though they played their hearts out they could not make any headway against a defence which was well controlled by Noel Casey from the centre-back position”. Things got exciting approaching the final moments with a fifty fifth minute free from Alford going all the way to the ‘Bridge net. This goal reduced the gap to one but John Chaplin eased the pressure with a pointed free before he had a goal near the end disallowed due to another ‘Bridge player causing an infringement in the square.
 
In concluding the report Hobbs signalled out the following for special praise “Man of the match, Declan McInerney and other players to perform were Noel Casey, Michael Corry.” Team captain Eamon “Wanger” Healy was presented with the cup after the game.
 
 
Sixmilebridge: Brendan Flynn, Leo Mulready, Mike Twoomey, Sean Flynn, Henry Hehir, Noel Casey, Kevin McInerney, John Chaplin (0-1f), Brian Barron, Michael Corry (1-1), Christy Morey, Mike Sheedy, Eamon Healy (Captain), James Collins (0-1), Declan McInerney (1-5).
 
Subs: Michael Casey for Sheedy. Conor Loughnane, Richard Flynn, Declan Cullinan, Martin Mc Auley, David Murray, John Flynn, Joe Joe Murphy.
 
Management: No details on the management team could be found but it is possible the 1983 management team was still in place.
 
 
1985 – Three In A Row
 
Right from the outset the 1985 minor team were installed as favourites to capture the minor crown for the third year in a row. This prediction was to prove true as they annexed a first ever three in a row for the club at this grade. They had a good win over Clarecastle (3-8 to 0-7) to set up a final duel with Newmarket. The Clare Champion preview of the minor final against our near neighbours stated the following:
 
“The Bridge appear to be the more experienced side and their line-up will include John Chaplin, Declan McInerney, Mike Twomey, Henry Hehir, Brendan Flynn and Noel Casey all of whom were on the county minor team earlier this year. It is expected to be a very close encounter with little separating the teams at the final whistle.”
 
With six county minors at their disposal the ‘Bridge faced a Newmarket team including a number of their championship winning 1984 U16 team, who beat the ‘Bridge in that final, but the final line in the preview of the duel was to prove to be untrue. This was because the ‘Bridge dominated from start to finish as captured in the heading of the match report in the following week’s Clare Champion. It read “Easy for ‘Bridge” with the 1-14 to 0-2 win seeing them accomplish a first ever three in a row.
 
The report itself does not mention who got the ‘Bridge scores or who played well but it describes the game “AS the scoreline suggests, Sixmilebridge had no trouble in retaining the Clare minor A hurling championship title when they had an easy win over neighbours Newmarket in the final played at Cusack Park on Saturday last. The winners led at the break on the score of 1-10 to 0-1 having played with the aid of the breeze and they would not have been flattered had this lead been greater. In the second half the Newmarket side hit back but they found the winners defence in excellent form and there was simply no way through. It was very impressive performance by the Bridge team who have now completed three in a row at this grade.”
 
 
SIXMILEBRIDGE – Minor Hurling Champions 1985. Back (left to right): Pat Kearney, Martin McAuley, Niall Keogh, Mike Twomey, Kevin McInerney, Joe Joe Murphy, Ian Mulready, John Chaplin, Henry Hehir, Corey Downes, Sean Flynn. Front (left to right): Mike Sheedy, Conor Loughnane, Noel Casey, James McInerney, Brendan Flynn (Captain), Declan McInerney, Mikey Casey, Christy Morey, Leo Mulready.
 
Sixmilebridge: Brendan Flynn (Captain); Kevin McInerney, Mike Twoomey, Leo Mulready; Henry Hehir, Noel Casey, Ian Mulready; J.J. Murphy, Conor Loughnane; Mike Sheedy, John Chaplin, James McInerney; Mikey Casey, Christy Morey, Declan McInerney.
 
Subs: Sean Flynn, Pat “Bo” Kearney, Martin McAuley, Niall Keogh, Corey Downes.
 
Management: No details on team management could be found but it is possible the 1983 management team was still in place
 
 
1994 – Hayes excels as ‘Bridge take title
 
Sixmilebridge 3-9 v 2-6 Clarecastle
 
After a lapse of nine years the Minor A trophy returned to the parish after this victory over rivals Clarecastle. Both sides met on a number of occasions down the years and always played out entertaining games. This meeting was set up thanks to the ‘Bridge beating Éire Óg in the last four by 2-9 to 0-4. The Clare Champion report of this final picks out centre back Pat Hayes for special mention with the headline reading “Hayes excels as ‘Bridge take title”. The reporter states the following:
 
“A POWERFUL performance from centre back Pat Hayes as the highlight of Sixmilebridge’s win over Clarecastle in the final of the Minor “A” hurling championship at Newmarket on Saturday evening. This was a very entertaining game, which produced some excellent passages of play. At the end of the sixty minutes Sixmilebridge were deserving winners having pulled away in the final twenty minutes.”
 
The teams were very evenly matched in the opening half and at half time the winners led by 2-5 to 1-5. Darragh O’Loughlin and Niall Gilligan had the ‘Bridge goals while John Pyne had a goal for the Magpies. The report tells us that the sides were evenly matched in the early stages of the second half before Gilligan scored his second goal and with good points from team captain Martin Conlon they went on to open a seven point gap.
 
The following were mentioned as having played well:
 
“Pat Hayes was outstanding for the winners and Clarecastle had no answer to his powerful play. Cathal Walsh and Gregory Deegan were others to do well in defence. Team captain Martin Conlon had a fine game at midfield while up front Niall Gilligan was in great form finishing with a total of 2-2 to his credit. “
 
Meanwhile, in the 1994 Sixmilebridge parish magazine it states the following:
 
“The Bridge regained this title after a nine year wait and on the night found heroes all over the field with Declan Murphy, Cathal Walsh, Pat Hayes, Gregory Deegan, John Reddan and Martin Conlon particularly impressive”
 
The following year Hayes, Conlon and Gilligan were part of the senior ‘Bridge winning panel that beat Scariff in the final and went on to clinch the Munster title by defeating Éire Óg, Nenagh. In 1996 all three played important roles in the All-Ireland Club winning performance over Dunloy on St. Patrick’s Day.

 
SIXMILEBRIDGE – 1994 Minor Hurling Champions. Back (left to right): Darragh O’Loughlin, Barry Downes, John O’Meara, Declan Murphy, Eoin Gavin, Pat Hayes, Martin Conlon (Captain), John Reddan, Stiofán Fitzpatrick (injured). Front (left to right): Cormac Heffernan, Cathal Walsh, Niall Gilligan, Greg Deegan, Mattie Mullins, Mark Donnellan, Noel Flanney.
 
Sixmilebridge: Mattie Mullins; Cormac Heffernan, Declan Murphy, Cathal Walsh; Eoin Gavin, Pat Hayes, Gregory Deegan; John Reddan, Martin Conlon (Captain) (0-6); Barry Downes, Mark Donnellan, Noel Flannery (0-1); John O’Meara, Niall Gilligan (2-2), Darragh O’Loughlin (1-0).
 
Subs: Errol Tuohy, Cliff O’Halloran, Jude Kearney, Pat Hogan, Mikey Corbett, Gerry Maxwell, Tom Keogh, Jim Spaight, Ian Chaplin, Patrick Lonergan, Siofán Fitzpatrick.
 
Management: David Fitzgerald, Sean Corbett, Pat Corbett, Paddy Meehan, Mike Tuohy.
 
1996 – Third Title In Four Years
 
Sixmilebridge 1-12 v 3-3 St. Joseph’s Doora/Barefield
 
Having suffered the disappointment of being beaten by Clarecastle in the 1995 final after a replay, this side went one step better with a second title being claimed in three years. Sixmilebridge qualified to meet St. Joseph’s Doora/Barefield in the final with hopes high of success.
 
In what was a keenly contested final the ‘Bridge were down by one at the interval, 2-2 to 0-7, despite dominating the first twenty minutes of the half. This powerful opening twenty minutes saw us 0-7 to 0-2 up. However, an inspired second half performance was kick started when Noel Flannery levelled matters when he pointed after the interval with John Reddan now operating at midfield. They regained the lead soon after thanks to an effort from Johnny Swords. St. Joseph’s were now going down without a fight and they netted their third of the hour through Declan Dixon only for Mark Lynch to reply with a similar score for the ‘Bridge. Fergal Landy then put Sixmilebridge ahead with a good score before points from Brian “Nails” Casey and John O’Meara ensured a third title in four years.
 
The Clare Champion report of the final points to some outstanding individuals displays “Team captain John Reddan was outstanding throughout for the winners and his first half performance at centre back will long be remembered. Johnny Swords was tremendous throughout as was full forward Brian Casey who caused all sorts of problems for the losers’ backline. Stiofán Fitzpatrick was another to get through a lot of work.“
 
Sixmilebridge: Colm Noonan; Ultan Heffernan, Cathal Walsh, Nigel Quane; Eddie Russell, John Reddan (Captain), Adrian Chaplin; Stiofán Fitzpatrick, Johnny Swords (0-1); Mark Lynch (1-1), Fergal Landy (0-1), Colm O’Loughlin; Noel Flannery (0-3), John O’Meara (0-1), Brian Casey (0-5).
 
Subs: Damien Lonergan for O’Loughlin. Colm O’Loughlin, Gearoid Lyons, Brian Murphy, Alan McAuley, Kieran Liddane, Rory Liddane, Gerry O’Halloran, Tristan Chaplin.
 
Management: Pat Chaplin (manager), Mike Swords, Noel O’Gorman, Pat Corbett, Kieran O’Shea, Maurice Landy (selectors).
 
SIXMILEBRIDGE – 1996 Minor Hurling Champions.. Back (left to right): Pat Corbett (sel), Michael Swords (sel), Gerard Lyons, Cathal Walsh, Eddie Russell, Colm Noonan, Fergal Landy, Rory Liddane, Gerry O’Halloran, Kieran Liddane, Noel O’Gorman (sel), Pat Chaplin (manager), Maurice Landy (sel). Front (left to right): Stiofán Fitzpatrick, Alan McAuley, Tristan Chaplin, John O’Meara, Noel Flannery, John Reddan, Brian Casey, Johnny Swords, Ultan Heffernan, Nigel Quane. Kneeling: Colm O’Loughlin, Damien Lonergan, Adrian Chaplin, Mark Lynch, Brian Murphy. Missing from picture: Kieran O’Shea (sel).
 
1997 – Fitzpatrick Captains ‘Bridge To Glory
 
Sixmilebridge 1-5 v 0-7 St. Joseph ’s Doora/Barefield
 
1997 was a special year for Clare hurling with success for the county minor and senior hurlers. Three minors from the club featured in that excellent minor All-Ireland success, John Reddan captained the side from centre back, Stiofán Fitzpatrick was at midfield while John O’Meara saw action as a second half substitute in the final. Interestingly, current ‘Bridge player Wayne Kennedy also lined out for Clare in that line, back then he lined out in the colours of his native Parteen. Having won the 1996 minor title hopes were high of doing the double and some impressive displays on the way helped them to a final appearance with St. Joseph’s standing in their way of a first double since the 1980s.
 
Sixmilebridge beat Clarecastle in the semi final to qualify for their fourth final in a row with Dr. Daly Park in Tulla playing host to this tie, which took place on Saturday the 6th of December.  The Clare Champion headline reads “Missed chances costly for Doora/Barefield” with our opponents guilty of missing some good chances over the hour.
 
It reads further “Sixmilebridge retained the Minor A hurling championship title when they pipped Doora/Barefield in the 1997 decider at Dr. Daly Park in Tulla on Saturday, this success meant the club’s third title in this competition in four seasons which is certainly an impressive record”
 
At half time Sixmilebridge led 1-2 to 0-1. Sixmilebridge had an early goal through Robert Conlon, which the reporter claimed was “a soft goal”. However the ‘Bridge didn’t mind, team captain Stiofán Fitzpatrick had the two points for his side in this half while his county minor team mate Colm Mullen, operating at midfield for the Parish, had his teams only score of the half. In the second half Fitzpatrick and Mullen traded scores before St. Joseph ’s 14-year-old substitute Damien Kennedy marked his introduction with a good score to reduce the gap. Two further Mullen scores put just a point between the sides before Conlon edged the ‘Bridge into a two point lead. The report states that Barefield had their chances in the second half and coming into the last ten minutes they clawed back the deficit to one before Brian Culbert gave his team breathing space. Another Colm Mullen point set up an anxious last few minutes with St. Joseph ’s hitting four wides in the last three minutes. This was to prove cruel justice for them as Sixmilebridge held on for the win.
 
The reporter goes on to describe the ‘Bridge reaction after the final whistle “There were great scenes of jubilation amongst the Sixmilebridge followers when the final whistle sounded”. They also have special praise for the following players“Clare’s All-Ireland winnng minor captain John Reddan was a power of strength at centre back while club captain Stiofán Fitzpatrick did well at midfield and he contributed three points to the total. Fifteen year old Robert Conlon impressed in the attack as did John O’Meara”.
 
After the game Bórd na Óg Chairman Michael O’Neill together with Sixmilebridge’s Mrs. Ann Chaplin presented the Willie Chaplin cup to Stiofán Fitzpatrick.
 
Sixmilebridge: Gerry O’Halloran; Ultan Heffernan, Rory Liddane, Brian O’Loughlin; Eddie Russell, John Reddan, Adrian Chaplin; Stiofán Fitzpatrick (Captain) (0-3), Fergal Landy; Paul Fitzpatrick, Mark Lynch, Robert Conlon (1-1); John O’Meara, Brian Culbert (0-1), David Lonergan.
 
Subs: Padraig Flannery for P.Fitzpatrick, Kevin Fitzpatrick for Lonergan, Colm Noonan, Alan McAuley, Johnny Corbett, Rory Walsh, Michael O’Halloran, John Twomey, Tadgh Keogh.
 
Management: Kieran O’Shea (trainer), Pat Chaplin, Jamesy Keogh, Maurice Landy, Mike Swords, Tom Sheehan (selectors).
 
 
2001 – Replay Delight For Crowe Inspired ‘Bridge
 
Sixmilebridge 3-9 v 2-12 St. Joseph’s Doora/Barefield
Sixmilebridge 0-17 v 2-8 St. Joseph’s Doora/Barefield (replay)
 
Our last minor championship arrived in 2001 where after two exciting ties with St. Joseph’s the ‘Bridge prevailed. Both sides were impressive on route to the final and a tight encounter was expected. This was evidently true with honours being shared the first day out with St. Joseph’s Geoffrey Molloy proving to be their hero with a last gasp score three minutes into injury time. The report in the Clare Champion by Gerry McInerney tells us St. Joseph’s were going for the minor double as previously they had claimed the football crown. It also shows that the ‘Bridge appeared to be in the driving seat facing into the final quarter.
 
“With the minor football title already under wraps, St. Joseph’s were endeavouring to become just the third club to complete the double. They looked in dire trouble when Roy Kennedy waltzed past a near static defence at the turn of the final quarter to goal and open up a six points advantage”.
 
A minute later Mark Culbert hit another point but the ‘Bridges failure to score anymore after this meant that St. Joseph’s fought back strongly to force a replay. It was at half time (1-5 to 1-5) with McInerney stating “The opening exchanges were very scrappy and it took almost ten minutes for impressive Sixmilebridge midfielder, Mark Culbert to draw first blood”. Mark Lonergan scored the ‘Bridge goal in this half while Cyril Crowe was reported as to have tried hard to deliver the scores.“Great defensive play by Tommy Morey started the move which led to Mark Lonergan applying the finishing touch at the second attempt”
 
On the turn over Sixmilebridge had scores from Culbert and Crowe only for Molloy to reply back for St. Joseph’s. Then came another important ‘Bridge score with goal number two arriving.
 
“Daniel Collins pushed the ‘Bridge two in front before substitute, Brendan Walsh made an immediate impact with virtually his first touch of the ball. Cyril Crowe and David O’Connor combined down the left flank of the attack to create the opening for Walsh and he gave Paul Madden no chance when he cracked an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net.”
 
St. Joseph’s hit back with points of their own before Roy Kennedy got the ‘Bridge third goal to put them in the driving seat. Then along came the Doora/Barefield rally that forced the replay.
 
Sixmilebridge: Paul O’Halloran; Ronan Donnellan, David O’Meara, Michael Liddane; Jonathan Downes (Captain), Tommy Morey, Billy Maxwell; John Fahy, Mark Culbert (0-4); Roy Kennedy (1-0), Damien Keogh, Daniel Collins (0-1); Cyril Crowe (0-4), Mark Lonergan (1-0), David O’Connor.
 
Subs: Brendan Walsh (1-0) for Lonergan, Sean Chaplin for Morey (injury).
 
The replay took place a week later at Fr. Murphy Park, Newmarket with a 0-13 return from Cyril Crowe proving to be the difference between the two teams. In his report of the game Joe Ó Muircheartaigh, then of the Clare Champion, stated the following
 
“The ‘Bridge should have won the first day out, but made no mistake at the second time of asking. And, they can thank Cyril Crowe for guiding them to this victory. He capped a masterful season as he managed a remarkable 0-13 over the course of the hour”.
 
Sixmilebridge led by 0-10 to 1-5 at half time with the ‘Bridge defence reported as coping admirably against St. Joseph’s. It was no different in the second half with Damien Kennedy ploughing a lone furrow for Joseph’s but they could find no way past a stern ‘Bridge rearguard. “Time after time Ronan Donnellan, David O’Meara and Tommy Morey cleared Sixmilebridge lines”. Indeed, from reading the report the ‘Bridge with early second half points from Crowe and John Fahy looked like they were going to run away with the tie. Credit to their opponents who fought back and in the final minutes Kennedy saw his 25 metre free flash over the crossbar as Crowe put six between them down the other end. Joseph’s did manage a late goal from substitute Richie Kane but it was too late as it was the last puck of the game.
 
In wrapping up his report Ó Muircheartaigh says, “Sixmilebridge fully deserved their victory and afterwards there were no complaints from the St. Joseph’s boys even though their dreams of an historic football and hurling double had died”.
 
Sixmilebridge: Paul O’Halloran; Ronan Donnellan, David O’Meara, Michael Liddane; Billy Maxwell, Tommy Morey, Jonathan Downes (Captain); Roy Kennedy (0-2), Mark Culbert (0-1); Daniel Collins, Damien Keogh, Sean Chaplin; Cyril Crowe (0-13), John Fahy (0-1), David O’Connor.
 
Subs: Ciaran Dunne, Brendan Walsh, Mark Lonergan, Dermot Conlon, Damien Murray, Anthony Liddane, Patrick Punch.
 
Management: Pat Morey (manager), Sean Corbett, Pat Chaplin (selectors)

 
SIXMILEBRIDGE – 2001 Minor Hurling Champions. Back (left to right): Ronan Donnellan, Sean Chaplin, Billy Maxwell, Mark Culbert, Paul O’Halloran, John Fahy, Damien Keogh, Mark Lonergan, Cyril Crowe. Front (left to right): Ciaran Dunne, David O’Meara, Tommy Morey, Jonathan Downes, Daniel Collins, Michael Liddane, Roy Kennedy, David O’Connor. Missing from picture: Damien Murray, Brendan Walsh, Dermot Conlon, Patrick Punch, Anthony Liddane. Management: Pat Morey, Sean Corbett, Pat Chaplin.
 
Many thanks to anyone who helped with providing information on panels, management, programmes and identifying pictures including Pat Chaplin (1976-77, Pat was able to recall the whole 76 team over the phone!), Pat Keane (1983), Henry Hehir (1983 panel), Tom Keogh (1994, 1996-97, 01 programmes) Declan Murphy and John O’Meara (1994 team management), Tom Sheehan (1976-77) and Sean Flynn (1984 panel). Please note anyone omitted from this article it is not intentional and please contact us to ensure your name is included in this article.
 
Sources of information include Clare Champion records 1970-2001. Clare GAA yearbooks and old GAA programmes. It is worth noting that if it were not for the match reports in the Champion from the likes of ‘Bridge man Gerry McInerney, Seamus Hayes, Austin Hobbs and Joe O’Muircheartaigh then a lot of this information would not have been possible to locate. Finally, thanks to the staff of the Clare Local Studies Centre who were very helpful and anyone who helped in anyway with this article.

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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