Sixmilebridge 1-17 v 1-13 Midleton
Munster Club Championship
Semi Final @ Pairc Úi Chaoimh, Cork
Report by Caimin Barrett
In their first senior provincial outing since 2002, the ‘Bridge produced another great battling display to defeat a fancied Midleton side yesterday in Pairc Úi Chaoimh. This was a fine team performance with work rate and heart in plentiful supply. Conditions on the day were good for hurling with the weather dry and the pitch in good condition.
The ‘Bridge had two changes from the side that lined out in the county final win the week before with Brian Carey coming in for the injured Tadgh Keogh, an ever present in the side since making his debut in 2001, and Pa Sheehan in for Danny Morey. The Cork champions had one change to the programme with Cormac Lynch in for Declan Ryan. Sixmilebridge, for whom a large number of supporters made the trip, started well with an early score from Niall Gilligan after he pointed a free in the first minute. Both teams took a while to settle after this with Cork star Conor Lehane getting his team off the mark in the 6th minute from a sixty five.
Midelton hit three consecutive wides after their opening score while the ‘Bridge also spurned two scoring chances. In the 14th minute Gilligan was fouled and elected to go for goal from the free just outside the twenty one but Midleton had the goal well lined and blocked the shot. Seadna Morey did well to set up Pa Sheehan on the quarter hour mark with the latter sending over a fine score with a crisp shot. Lehane cancelled it out with a quality score from play a minute later to tie the game. The ‘Bridge defence and midfield were battling to good effect during this period with Noel Purcell, Paidí Fitzpatrick, Caimin Morey and the hard working duo of Kevin Lynch and Jamie Shanahan getting through some good work while Rory Shanahan made a couple of great catches.
Sixmilebridge struck for an important score immediately after when Derek Fahy did brilliantly to pick out Jamie Shanahan from the puck out. Shanahan then sent in a precision like pass to Alan Mulready who caught the sliotar before turning his man and giving Tommy Wallace no chance to rattle the onion bag. While this score drew an immediate response from the ‘Magpies with midfielder Peter Dowling on the mark, it sparked a spell of dominance for the ‘Bridge. In the 20th minute Midleton captain Padraig O’Shea limped off to be replaced by Declan Ryan as Kevin Lynch and Caimin Morey fired over fine scores from distance to put the champions of Clare 1-4 to 0-3 ahead after twenty two minutes. Cormac Walsh replied for his side before further scores from Shane Golden and Alan Mulready extended the ‘Bridge lead to five.
While the Aidan Quilligan captained ‘Bridge should have pushed on further at this stage it was the Cork side who finished the half strongly as they hit 1-2 in reply to 0-1. Luke O’Farrell evaded the clutches of the hard working Quilligan in the 24th only for Gilligan to send over a class score over his shoulder out near the sideline. However, Lehane struck for a goal and a point between the 27th minute to half time. The goal came about after his free from outside the twenty one was well saved by Derek Fahy before Lehane was quickest to slam the rebound into the net. Then in injury time Brian Hartnett was fouled by Brian Carey before the Cork panellist fired over the bar only for Johnny Ryan to award a free in instead which Lehane tapped over. This left the half time score 1-7 to 1-6 in favour of the ‘Bridge with Midleton hitting eight first half wides.
The second half started well for Sixmilebridge as they struck the opening two scores. The first score came from the impressive Pa Sheehan. Indeed, this score started in defence with Derek Fahy who picked out John Fennessy who in turn struck the ball up into the half forward line with Seadna Morey flicking it into the path of Gilligan who showed excellent vision to pick out Sheehan. The ‘Bridge suffered a blow when Kevin Lynch went off injured in the 34th minute, up until then Lynch was having a fine game in midfield with Sam O’Sullivan replacing him. Gilligan converted a free in the same minute to put three between the sides.
Lehane did well to set up Paul Haughney in the 36th minute with the midfielder making no mistake in splitting the posts. The resulting puck out was hit into the path of Haughney who again made no mistake to punish the ‘Bridge with the gap now down to one. A minute later and the sides were level when Aidan Ryan sent over a good effort. However, the ‘Bridge with Caimin Morey dominating at centre back replied back with Pa Sheehan sending over another fine score after good work from Gilligan. The impressive Jamie Shanahan then put two between the sides when he fired over a free in the 39th minute. Midleton goalie Tommy Wallace then sent over a long range free in the 41st minute despite protests from the ‘Bridge support, who were adamant the shot stopper had switched the sliotar.
Jamie Shanahan sent over two more points, one from play, by the 46th minute before inter county colleague Seadna Morey put four between the sides soon after. Aidan Quilligan produced a great block to deny Luke O’Farrell a point only for the Cork side to work the sliotar out to Aidan Ryan to fire over to set up a tense final ten minutes when Lehane manoeuvred a goal chance. Luckily for the ‘Bridge his shot went inches wide and into the side netting. Conor Deasy then came on for his senior debut in the 52nd minute in place of Rory Shanahan as the latter’s namesake Jamie showed his accuracy from a sixty five. At the other end of the pitch Pa Sheehan suffered a shoulder injury as Lehane (sixty five) and Deasy traded scores before Danny Morey replaced Sheehan in the 58th minute.
Conor Lehane converted another free to reduce the gap to three to set up a nervy finish as Padraig O’Keeffe was introduced for Cormac Walsh with a minute left to play. One minute of stoppage time was signalled as Lehane had a chance from a free outside the forty five but this was blocked down by Caimin Morey and cleared to safety. Brian Corry came on for his senior debut in the first minute of added time in place of Alan Mulready with Jamie Shanahan ensuring the win with a free in the 62nd minute.
The ‘Bridge now advance to a Munster final meeting with Na Piarsiagh of Limerick this Sunday coming at 2 pm in Cusack Park. Interestingly, the Limerick champions are managed by former ‘Bridge star Sean Stack
Sixmilebridge: Derek Fahy; Brian Carey, Paidi Fitzpatrick, Aidan Quilligan (Capt); John Fennessy, Caimin Morey (0-1), Noel Purcell; Kevin Lynch (0-1), Jamie Shanahan (0-5; 0-2fs, 0-1 65); Rory Shanahan, Shane Golden (0-1), Seadna Morey (0-1); Alan Mulready (1-1), Niall Gilligan (0-3; 0-2fs), Pa Sheehan (0-3). Subs: Sam O’Sullivan for Lynch (34 mins, inj), Conor Deasy (0-1) for R.Shanahan (52 mins), Danny Morey for Sheehan (58 mins, inj), Brian Corry for Mulready (61 mins).
Midleton: Tommy Wallace (0-1f); Killian Burke, Patrick O’Mahony, Aylwin Kearney; Seamus O’Farrell, Finbarr O’Mahony, James Nagle; Paul Haughney (0-2), Peter Dowling (0-1); Padraig O’Shea (Capt), Conor Lehane (1-5; 0-3fs, 0-1 65), Aidan Ryan (0-2); Cormac Walsh (0-1), Luke O’Farrell (0-1), Brian Hartnett. Subs: Declan Ryan for O’Shea (20 mins, inj), Padraig O’Keeffe for Walsh (59 mins).
Referee: Johnny Ryan (Boherlahan Dualla, Tipperary).