The current crop of Sixmilebridge Seniors are aiming to repeat the feat completed at the turn of the millennium by the last generation, win two titles in three years.
Back then, the man leading the victorious teams of 2000 and 2002 was Christy Chaplin. He spoke to The Clare Herald in the run up to this weekend’s marquee match.
The only difference the All-Ireland medallist from 1995 and 1997 can find between the county title winning teams he lead and this year’s panel is that there is a greater element of youth this year.
“I would say the only difference, a lot of us probably in 2000/2002 were older. I think the Bridge team at the moment are younger. There’s a mixture of some of the older lads still there maybe but the team is actually a lot younger than we were”.
With plenty of big days under his belt as a hurler with his club, Chaplin is well positioned to lend advice to some of those younger members of the team for Sunday.
“The biggest advice you can give them is to treat it as another hurling match. You know, there’s no point in getting too worked up over it. All they have to do is go out there and treat it the same as any other game, not to get too carried away in the hype.”
According to Christy, the atmosphere around the village is as excitable as always for a county final weekend with the yellow and blue colours on every corner.
“There’s a good atmosphere around it. Ah sure, the usual flags, the bunting, the whole lot are going up and there’s great talk about the match and great interest and looking forward to it.”
With that said, there is one house in Sixmilebridge that will have allegiances in both camps on Sunday with Bridgeman Sean Stack on the side line for Clonlara.
However, Rusty as he is more commonly known as in the Bridge doesn’t feel that it will have any major impact on the atmosphere surrounding the game as Stack is no stranger to coming up against his own club by now.
“Sean has his job to do with Clonlara like he had before with Na Piarsaigh and Toomevara. We’ve played them down the years. I don’t think that will have anything to do with the game on Sunday.”
Like most around the county, the manager of the Sixmilebridge side who were defeated in the 2011 County Final predicts an extremely close encounter but his heart tips it in favour of Sixmilebridge clinching the victory.
“I’m hoping the Bridge will win it but it’s going to be tough. I don’t think there’s going to be too much either way. I think there’s going to be a puck of a ball in it.”
He also highlighted how important the individual match-ups across the field could be in determining the end result.
“Looking at the two teams, there’s great talent on both sides and I think the match-ups could have a lot to do.
“I think the big match-ups, who takes who and if we can control (Darach) Honan and a few of them up front and maybe they’ll be saying the same. They’ll have to try and cover Gilly and Shane Golden so I think that could decide a lot on the day” he concluded.