The echos of the final whistle around an empty Cusack Park had barely dissipated when Sixmilebridge manager Tim Crowe was already looking to what might come next.
Victory over O’Callaghan’s Mills saw them claim a 15th Clare senior hurling title, but as ever, Crowe, who has led his club to consecutive titles for only the second time in their history, was not content to stand still.
Always an innovator, the former PE teacher, who was one of the first in the country to take up that profession, is urging the provincial council to ensure that there will be Munster club action to round off the 2020 season.
He feels there is time in the spring to accommodate the competition and says any impact that may have on inter-county action is worth it to crown provincial champions.
“I feel it is important to keep the tradition of Munster club. I think there is no reason why it cannot be played in February. They could give the clubs a month to prepare for it. Athletics Ireland held their championships this year for the 137th time because they wanted to keep that tradition. I would appeal to the Munster Council to look at it because tradition is very important in the GAA. All the other clubs who have won their county titles have requested it and I am adding our voice to that. The National League is preparation for the championship but I think we have seen this year that the club has established itself as the number one. We have developed players, like every other club, for our club and they have stepped up then to the county. Up to recently, they were county players rather than club players and we would see them two weeks before the championship. Over the last eight weeks, having our county players at every session has elevated the standard and that is how it should be. If they have to miss a league match to keep the tradition of the Munster club alive, it is a very small price to pay” he stated.
In the year of the Covid-19 championship, Crowe gave special mention to the work of Clare GAA in getting competitions played while also praising the referees in the county for the manner in which they applied themselves this year.
In just his second year at the helm alongside Davy Fitzgerald, they are yet to taste defeat in putting titles back to back. Crowe outlined that this group of players deserve great credit for what they have done, and also praised the impact of his coach.
“I think our players today deserve huge credit and I hope they get it. To win five out of eight championships in Clare is outstanding. They are a brilliant bunch of players, and the eldest guy is 31. This is their eighth final and some of them now have five championship medals. We have a great coaching set up but in Davy Fitz we have an ace of hearts. He is a top class coach at intercounty level and is coaching his own club. What he brings to us is unbelievable and you saw it there today. It was a masterclass in tactics. People talk about us going through a championship without scoring a goal, but up to today our average concession from play was seven points. That is down to fantastic coaching by Davy and he has devised a system that has worked for those lads so it is some ace of hearts for us to have in our hands. He has great coaching up back up with the lads involved and they are all vital parts in it too. I would also like to compliment our chairman Paddy Meehan. He is some leader and some driver and he is a fierce Sixmilebridge man. He has made so many things happen over the last ten years so to have guys like Davy and Paddy in our set up is a huge advantage” he noted.
Crowe outlined that the work and preparation in the lead up to Sunday’s final paid the ultimate reward, and highlighted the success this current group of players have brought to their club.
“It was our best performance of the year simply because we respected the Mills. I have great admiration for them in terms of where they came from and the year that they have had. It is great to see them at the top table and deservedly so. I think it is fair to say that they did not play well today and while there might be pressure on champions and favourites, there is also pressure on underdogs. I don’t think they did themselves justice today. Davy had them so well analysed and set up that it was very difficult for them to break that down and allow them to play. It is some achievement in Clare and I think this group of players deserve everything they are going to get now in the acknowledgement of that. I told them at the start of the year that the team of the ’70’s won two championships, the teams of the 80’s and 90’s won three, the team of the 00’s won two and this team have now won five. It is just phenomenal” he stated.