posted 21 Oct 2010, 11:56 by Unknown user
updated 21 Oct 2010, 11:59 by Denis Tuohy Agricultural Consultant
Sixmilebridge 1-16 Newmarket 0-16
Since he first hit the hurling headlines back in 1997, Niall Gilligan has delivered some outstanding performances for club and county.
Last Saturday’s display by the Sixmilebridge captain in leading his club to the Clare Champion Cup senior hurling league title will rank with the best.
A contribution of 1-12 steered his club to their first league title in six years and to a three-point win over neighbours and great rivals Newmarket.
At the end of what was a closely contested final, they just about deserved the win but Newmarket will feel they should have done better. Three points ahead entering the final quarter, they looked like they might take a grip on proceedings but then Gilligan struck for the game’s only goal, which was followed by four points in as many minutes.
Newmarket tried hard to get back on terms but the ‘Bridge defence held firm and despite finishing with 14 men, after Shane Golden picked up a second yellow card at the very end, the winners held out.
In superb conditions for hurling and on an excellent playing pitch at Clarecastle, this final produced some good performances for the big attendance. The first half saw the scores come from the respective free takers, Gilligan and Colin Ryan. They exchanged points in the opening minutes before Gilligan hit three-in-a-row, one from play, to put his team three clear by the tenth minute.
Two scores from Ryan, the second from a 65, left one point between the sides at the end of the opening quarter. A further five minutes went by before David Barrett hit the equaliser for the Blues, who went in front when Jim McInerney pointed two minutes later.
It was point for point from here to the break with Newmarket ahead by one, 0-8 to 0-7.
Within a minute of the resumption, Gilligan had the sides level for the sixth time before Shane Golden and David Barrett exchanged points.
By now the tempo of the game had increased and this was reflected in the next few minutes as referee Rory Hickey issued a number of yellow cards. Enda Kelly and Gilligan exchanged points before Newmarket had three in two minutes from James McInerney, Enda Kelly and David Barrett.
As the end of the third quarter approached, Newmarket looked to be taking a grip on proceedings but then Gilligan struck a vital blow when, at the turn of the final quarter, he got inside the Newmarket full-back line and blasted to the net to level matters for the ninth and final time.
This score clearly rocked Newmarket but provided a major boost to the winners who followed with four points from Gilligan (2) and Caimin Morey (2).
The winners were back in control and while Newmarket tried hard to regain a grip on proceedings, there was no way back. It was noticeable that in the final couple of minutes, Gilligan played as a sweeper between the half and full-back lines.
The winner’s defence played well as a unit on a day when team captain Niall Gilligan was the undoubted star of the show.
Stephen Kelly, Eoin McInerney, Enda and David Barrett worked hard throughout for Newmarket.
Sixmilebridge: Derek Fahy; Aidan Quilligan, Tadhg Keogh, Ray McNamara; Robert Conlon, John Fennessy, Paudi Fitzpatrick; Shane Golden, Trevor Purcell; Declan Morey, Rory Shanahan, Caimin Morey; Danny Morey, Niall Gilligan, Pa Sheehan.
Subs: Anthony Liddane for Purcell (38 minutes); David O’Connor for Sheehan (41 minutes); Barry O’Connor for Fennessy (61 minutes).
Scorers: Niall Gilligan (1-12, 0-8f); Caimin Morey (0-2); Shane Golden, Danny Morey (0-1 each).
Frees: 11; wides: 4; 65s: 2
Newmarket: Kieran Devitt; Eoin McInerney, Stephen Kelly, Padraig Kilmartin; Shane O’Brien junior, Enda Barrett, Alan Barrett; Colin Ryan, Paudie Collins; Jim McInerney, David Barrett, Michael McInerney; Enda Kelly, James McInerney, Darren Duggan.
Subs: Martin O’Hanlon for Collins (37 minutes); Bernard Gaffney for Duggan (43 minutes); Shane O’Brien for Jim McInerney (52 minutes); Sean O’Connor for M McInerney (55 minutes).
Scorers: Colin Ryan (0-7, 6f); David Barrett (0-4); Enda Kelly (0-2) Michael McInerney, Jim McInerney, James McInerney (0-1 each).
Frees: 10; wides: 13; 65s: 1
Referee: Rory Hickey, Éire Óg.