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The absence of Sixmilebridge captain Paidi Fitzpatrick was a big blow to the team. Photograph by John Kelly.

A bridge too far for Clare champions

Champion Chatter

Ballygunner, Waterford 1-18 Sixmilebridge 1-17

Sixmilebridge’s dream of contesting the Munster senior club hurling final ended at Walsh park in Waterford this afternoon when they went under by the minimum margin to a fancied Waterford side, Ballygunner/

It was a heartbreaking defeat for the Clare champions who, when the review the game, will reflect on missed chances and on whether or not they could have made changes which would have benefited the team.

As reported last week, the Clare champions went into this game without their injured captain Paidi Fitzpatrick and while he took part in the team pre match warm up on the pitch, he played no part in the game. His absence was a blow to the team’s hopes of progressing to the final.

What was mainly a crossfield breeze helped the visitors in the opening half but they finished the half strongly to led by five points, 0-11 to 0-6, when the half time whistle sounded. Their lead could have been greater at this time as they had hit six wides in that opening period, three more than their opponents.

Ballygunner obviously got a stern talking to at half time and they returned in a very determined mood. Points were exchanged in the opening two minutes before the home side hit five in a row to level the game at 0-12 each with just nine minutes played in this period.

A great run through the heard of the Ballygunner defence ended with All-star goaklkeeper Stephen O’Keeffe making a tremendous save from Shane Golden. At the turn of the final quarter Billy O’Keeffe gave the Waterford champions the lead for the first time but Jamie Shanahan and Brian Corry responded for the visitors who led by the minimum with ten minutes to play.

A brace from Pauric Mahony had the home side back in front with five minutes to play but two superb strikes from Jamie Shanahan saw the lead switch back to the Claremen with three minutes to play.

The decisive score came a minute later when J.J. Hutchinson, in the Ballygunner team for the injured Brian O’Sullivan, struck for the winner’s goal. Billy O’Keeffe and Hutchinson followed with points and the winners led by four with two of the scheduled three minutes of ‘added time’ played.

Sixmilebridge now had Seadna Morey in the attack and he kept the hopes of their followers in the official attendance of 2,492, alive when he goaled. However time was up and following the puckout Limerick referee Johnnie Murphy sounded the final whistle.

Ballygunner; Stephen O’Keeffe; Eddie Hayden, Barry Coughlan, Ian Kenny; Philip Mahony, Wayne Hutchinson, Shane Walsh; Harley Barnes, Shane O’Sullivan (0-1); Peter Hogan, David O’Sullivan, Pauric Mahoney (0-11); Conor Power, J.J. Hutchinson (1-3), Billy O’Keeffe (0-3)

Subs; Barry O’Sullivan for S. Walsh; David Walsh for Hogan;

Sixmilebridge; Derek Fahy; Noel Purcell, Seadna Morey (1-0), Barry Fitzpatrick; Caimin Morey, Aidan Quilligan, Evan McInerney; Jamie Shanahan (0-9), Conor Deasy (0-1); Cathal Malone (0-1), Niall Gilligan (0-2), Shane Golden (0-1); Brian Corry (0-1), Alex Morey (0-1), Alan Mulready (0-1);

Subs; Kevin Lynch for Mulready; Brian Carey for McInerney

Referee; Johnnie Murphy, Limerick

By Seamus Hayes

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