What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?
It’s a paradox that scientists can’t decipher but we’re about to find out in the hurling equivalent at least when neighbours Sixmilebridge and O’Callaghan’s Mills clash for the Canon Hamilton on Sunday.
Sixmilebridge represent the immovable object that have maximised their golden generation to remain the team to beat each year after four crowns in seven years.
Breaking that biennial pattern has proven difficult in title defences but they will be determined to make this golden opportunity count as back-to-back triumphs would ensure their status as Sixmilebridge’s greatest ever team.
Their county final record has also been exemplary since the water polo final with Crusheen in 2011 as four subsequent deciders have yielded as many wins. Clooney-Quin came closest to shredding that pattern in 2017 when almost pulling off the perfect coup before ultimately losing that element of surprise for the replay. However, that aggressive pace-forcing exercise is exactly what O’Callaghan’s Mills require to unsettle their opponents’ heretofore impenetrable fortress.
It’s why Sixmilebridge are deemed that immovable object as they primarily set up to not to lose rather than taking unnecessary risks to win handsomely. Caimin Morey’s holding role is perfectly aligned to add extra experience to the heart of their defence along with allowing Seadna Morey and Pa Mulready the license to power forward and create overlaps for scores.
Surprisingly such a tactic hasn’t yielded a single goal for the champions, only 12 months on from the riches of eight goals by the semi-final stage.
Crucially however, they have also only leaked two goals at the other end and only one from play, which makes them obstinately difficult to outscore.
That’s where the unstoppable force of O’Callaghan’s Mills comes in as with nine goals to their credit so far, an average of just over two per game, they will need that firepower once more if they are to complete their most impressive season on the ultimate high.
Central to their attacking potency are the dynamic inside duo of Colin Crehan (3-18) and Gary Cooney (1-6) while longer range free-taker Jacob Loughnane has also accounted for 1-22.
But with eight different scorers last time out in their late steal over Ballyea, the Mills have several strings to their attacking bow, led by captain Bryan Donnellan who is as adept at dropping deep as a defensive outlet or for puck-outs as he is powering forward for scores.
Their impressive half-back unit of Patrick Donnellan, Aidan O’Gorman and Aidan Fawl are perhaps key to gaining potential success as along with aiding their last line and providing a platform for attacks, they will need to be wary of the Sixmilebridge runners from deep.
The thing is that Sixmilebridge do have all the armoury to really open up teams, but as of yet have just been content to grind out result which, while an impressive trait, does leave the door of possibility open, especially for a never-say-die Mills side that know that this is perhaps their only shot at Canon Hamilton glory.
Alex Morey has accounted for over half their tally but Jamie Shanahan and Jason Loughnane have also caught the eye while there’s no better final performers than Shane Golden and Cathal Malone.
It’s all set up for an intriguing battle of wills, but Sixmilebridge have won every war of attrition so far and consequently it’s difficult to look beyond their physical power, vast experience and winning know-how as an immovable object.