When Sixmilebridge won the county title in 2013, they bridged an 11-year gap since their last victory on county final day.
The man in charge two years ago was John O’Meara and after a disappointing defence of the title, his charges have come back stronger than ever this year.
They now lie on the cusp of a Senior Hurling double and talking to The Clare Herald, O’Meara said that the disappointing 2014 was part of the reason they’ve come so good this year.
“We were disappointed last year. I suppose the only consolation was that the two teams that came out of the group went on to play each other in the county final. We went back training and wanted to make sure we made a good account of ourselves.
“We take each game, since early in the year, as it comes. The focus now is on the county final. It’s a huge day for the club, the parish and for the people of Sixmilebridge.”
The underage structure in the club is another factor that has enabled them to compete at Senior level. Over the last decade, the O’Garney men have claimed championship honours four times at U21 level along with one minor title, four U16 championships in a row from 2008-2011 along with a brace of titles in both the U14 and U15 championships.
An impressive feat for any club but all the more illustrious looking when you take into account that each of these titles have been done at ‘A’ level.
O’Meara acknowledged how important the underage structure within the club is when it comes to keeping the club at the high end of the Senior competition year in, year out.
“There was a couple of great years there at Minor, U16 and U21. Now a lot of those lads are forming the back bone of the Senior team. It’s great for the club that they are able to make it at Senior level.”
Standing between the ‘Bridge and a second title in three years are the star-studded Clonlara team who boast a number of the Clare Senior and U21 hurling panels within their ranks. The Sixmilebridge manager is under no illusion as to what kind of threat Clonlara will pose.
“Huge threat, they have a lot of the household names in Clare hurling. They’ve been putting up huge scores to date. Some of their lesser lights have been hurling well too. The first name that springs to mind would be Michael O’Loughlin. If you were to pick a player of the championship at the moment, it would be him. He’s been man of the match in four of the six games they’ve played so far.”
O’Meara and his players will hope to be the toast of Sixmilebridge again on county final night and will be looking to ensure that it’s not a certain other ‘Bridge man going home with the Canon Hamilton.