SIXMILEBRIDGE 3-10 ; CLARECASTLE 2-8 Clare SHC Final A MAGICAL three-minute spell, just before half-time, which yielding two goals and a point, paved the way for Sixmilebridge to capture their tenth Clare senior hurling title at Cusack Park yesterday.
In that short space of time, the 'Bridge went from being 0-7 to 0-3 ahead to being 2-8 to 0-3 clear, leaving their young Clarecastle opponents with a mountain to climb in the second half.
Although the 'Magpies' hit back with two good points after the interval, an opportunist goal by John Reddan after six minutes effectively sealed victory for the 'Bridge.
Late goals from the Fitzgerald brothers Dermot and Robert put a more respectable look on the scoreline, but there was no disguising the fact that Clarecastle were outwitted and out-hurled.
The tactic employed by the Clarecastle mentors of playing one of their half forwards as a sweeper in defence did not have the desired effect. It left 'Bridge star John Reddan on his own for much of the game, allowing him to mop up loose ball and mount numerous counter attacks.
Clarecastle only led once at the very start when they replied to a Niall Gilligan point with scores from midfielder Gary Farmer and a John Casey free.
Sixmilebridge soon settled into their rhythm and hit five unanswered points before going for the kill before half-time.
Cyril Crowe started the scoring rush with a point and moments later the 18-year-old collected a sweet cross-field delivery from Reddan, beat corner-back Ger Canny and blasted past Clarecastle 'keeper James Healy.
Seconds later, Gilligan sent a long ball to Brian Culbert who was denied by a fine save from Healy, but sub John O'Meara was on hand to tap home the rebound. The game was definitely over as a contest when Reddan scored Sixmilebridge's third goal after the break, pouncing on a Gary Farmer mistake on the '40' and racing through before burying it in the Clarecastle net.
In the dying moments, Sixmilebridge lost concentration and conceded two goals. The first came from Dermot Fitzgerald who blasted past his namesake Davy, while the second came courtesy of his brother Robert who flicked the sliotar home following a free by 'keeper James Healy.
SCORERS Sixmilebridge: J Reddan 1-3, C Crowe 1-1, N Gilligan 0-4 (1f), J O'Meara 1-0, W Kennedy 0-1, J Chaplin 0-1 (f). Clarecastle: D Quinn 0-5 (2f), D Fitzgerald 1-0, R Fitzgerald 1-0, G Farmer 0-1, S Sheedy 0-1, J Casey 0-1 (f).
SIXMILEBRIDGE D Fitzgerald; W Kennedy, P Hayes, T Keogh; A Mulready, J Chaplin, C Walsh; M Culbert, C Chaplin (capt); C Crowe, J Reddan, S Fitzpatrick; B Culbert, N Gilligan, A Chaplin. Subs: J O'Meara for A Chaplin, P Fitzpatrick for M Culbert.
CLARECASTLE J Healy; G Canny, M Sheedy, R Concannon (capt); O Plunkett, S Sheedy, M McNamara; A O'Loughlin, G Farmer; C Plunkett, E Flynn, F O'Loughlin; J Casey, S Moloney, D Quinn. Subs: R Fitzgerald for F O'Loughlin, D Scanlan for Flynn, D Fitzgerald for Casey, T Kearse for Moloney.
G Hoey (Killenena)