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Sixmilebridge chairman Paddy Meehan congratulates man of the match Niall Gilligan following the senior county championship win over Clonlara at Cusack park. Photograph by John Kelly.

Gilligan inspires ‘Bridge to another title

Sixmilebridge 1-21 Clonlara 0-15

A haul of 0-13 from Niall Gilligan played a key role in Sixmilebridge winning back the Canon Hamilton trophy after a lapse of one year, as they overcame Clonlara in the Clare senior hurling championship final at sunsplashed Cusack Park on Sunday afternoon.

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The Sixmilebridge veteran, who won the first of his five Clare senior championships 20 years ago in 1995, was presented with the man of the match award at the end of a game his side won convincingly

While Sixmilebridge carried the favourites tag into this game, much was expected of Clonlara but their fans went home disappointed at the end of a contest in which Clare All-Ireland winning heroes from 2013, Colm Galvin, Darach Honan and Domhnaill O’Donovan failed to make an impression and this was a big talking point after the game.

Disappointed with the result, Clonlara manager Sean Stack accepted thst there was no argument about the outcome. “They were the hungrier and sharper team throughout and we failed to match their commitment”, he said

According to winning manager John O’Meara, assisted this year by newly appointed Offaly manager Eamonn Kelly, “we were very disappointed last year after going out of the championship so early. We just made up our minds early in the year that we would do everything it took to bring the Canon Hamilton back to the ‘Bridge. I drilled it into the boys that its a great team that wins a second one. When you come a second time the feeling of satisfaction and fulfillment runs a lot deeper and for a lot longer”. John O’Meara said

The winners, who are unbeaten in competitive action this season, got off to a dream start, going 1-3 to 0-0 ahead after just eight minutes. Three Gilligan frees were followed by the only goal of the game, which was scored by Alex Morey. That goal separated the sides at half time when the score was 1-8 to 0-8.

Six unanswered points in a 10 minute spell midway through the second half sealed victory for the ‘Bridge, who will be back in action in two weeks time when they face their Limerick counterparts in the opening round of the Munster championship. The Clare champions will have home advantage for that tie

There can be no denying the merit of Sixmilebridge’s victory on a day when Seadna Morey, Brian Carey, and Jamie Shanahan gave most support to Gilligan. They are also through to the Clare Champion cup (senior league) final where they will play Crusheen on a date to be confirmed

Cillian Fennessy, John Conlon, both in defence and attack, Cathal O’Connell and Micheal O’Loughlin did best for Clonlara for whom there was some consolation when their corner forward Micheal O’Loughlin won the championship top scorer award.

Elsewhere, Kilmaley’s impressive form at underage level contnued as they scored a four point win over their neighbours Ingh-Kilnamona in the final of the under 15 A championship, a game played at Shannon

By Seamus Hayes, sports editor

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