Seadna Morey pulls no punches or offers no clichés about Sunday’s county hurling final appearance being something that Sixmilebridge targeted being involved in.
The Garney side club are set to end a decade that has already seen them contest four showpiece events with another march behind the band, and the omens are in their favour if that is something you believe in.
2011, 2013, 2015, 2017 and now 2019 have all seen the Bridge in Cusack Park on the biggest day in the Clare club hurling calendar, and only the first year of that run has seen them come away without the Canon Hamilton trophy.
Morey admits they were eager to get back there once more.
“We would be lying if we said that we didn’t target this at the start of the year and it really is something that we were aiming for. We wanted to build our performances throughout the campaign to get to the county final and we are just delighted to be back in it now and looking forward to another big day. We are hoping to put in a big performance too because we feel like over our last two games that we haven’t really played the way we can and hopefully we can hit those heights on Sunday” he noted.
The fact that is has been all the odd years of the decade that has seen Sixmilebridge reach this point of the championship is not something that is lost on the vice-captain but it is not something he is paying too much heed of either.
“We will have to do a review I think of what happened to us in the even years to see what went wrong” he joked.
He continued: “It just shows the level of competition in the championship here in Clare though. Crusheen are still the only team to have put titles back to back over the last few decades so that shows how hard it is to do that and how savagely competitive it is. We had a bit of an off-year last year but now we are back where we feel we belong and we have that chance to put it right and get that performance to get us over the line”.
John O’Meara was the man who oversaw one of the most successful periods in the club history as three titles were garnered in 2013, 2015 and 2017, and the void left by him was always going to be difficult to fill. The club did not have to look too far away for a successor, as club veteran Tim Crowe was appointed manager with another club veteran in the form of Davy Fitzgerald coming as coach alongside club chairman Paddy Meehan as selector. Morey feels they have hit the ground running under their stewardship.
“It has been brilliant and in particular the work that Fitzy has put in along with bringing Wexford to an All-Ireland semi-final is spectacular. The work and analysis he puts in for us is brilliant and it is great to have him on board. A lot of people have bought in to what he is doing and they way he wants us to play and it has clearly been of benefit because we have gotten this far. Tim and Timmy have been brilliant for the group too particularly in the early part of the year. They put in a huge shift in getting the fitness levels up and that is standing to us. We are able to keep going in the latter stages of games where some teams might be struggling so that is down to the work they have put in with us” said the 2013 All-Ireland winner.
Sixmilebridge’s win over Inagh-Kilnamona was not just of significance in terms of their record this decade, but it also marked another major milestone for one of the all-time greats. Niall Gilligan’s introduction in the closing stages marked a 24th consecutive senior championship appearance for the 43 year old and Morey says having his influence around the squad is of benefit to everyone.
“It is incredible to have him around and even his presence in the dressing room alone is amazing, particularly for the young lads who are coming through. I remember when I was breaking through onto the senior scene, I looked up to him so much and to have him as that mentor figure is priceless. He has the words of wisdom when they are needed and it is brilliant to have that experience available to us. He is just incredible to still be going at his age. I don’t know how he does, I don’t think I will be able to still be going when I reach his age to be honest” he laughed.
Cratloe and Sixmilebridge have plenty recent history to draw on but another chapter will be written on Sunday when they meet on the biggest day for the first time. Morey is looking forward to what lies ahead.
“We have had great competition over the last few years but never met in the final itself so there is no need to go looking for motivation with that coming down the tracks. It is going to be massive and they are full of confidence at the moment so we know what we are in for. It is going to be a huge battle and we just need to get that performance out of ourselves that we know is there. We are used to these occasions and we are experienced enough not to get caught up in the sideshows that it brings. We are focused on the game and we can’t think of it being anything other than just another game. Cratloe will know how to handle it too so there is no advantage for one side or the other in that sense. We are just really looking forward to it as a group and hopefully we can get over the line” he concluded.