Sixmilebridge aiming to make home advantage pay against Na Piarsaigh
Na Piarsaigh manager Seán Stack will be bound to feel mixed emotions when he takes on his old club Sixmilebridge in the Munster club hurling final on Sunday. Photograph: Meabh Horan/Inpho
They’ve been on a roll since the summer and luckily or otherwise, Clare have now won the right to host Sunday’s Munster club hurling final – adding to Cratloe’s progression to a first Munster club football final.
The Munster Council agreed Clare champions Sixmilebridge and Limerick counterparts Na Piarsaigh could toss for home advantage, even though recent finals have typically gone to a neutral venue; in winning the toss Sixmilebridge have opted for Cusack Park in Ennis (throw-in 2pm), rather than their own home ground, O’Garney Park, which wasn’t deemed suitable for a provincial final.
This follows the mildly surprising Sixmilebridge victory over Cork champions Midleton at Páirc Uí Chaoimh on Sunday, just seven days after the club scored a county final win over Newmarket-on-Fergus.
“We’re thrilled to have it at home,” said Sixmilebridge manager John O’Meara. “It has to give you some bit of advantage. We’ve played a good few championship matches there this year and we’d definitely be accustomed to the place.”
Sunday’s showdown with the Limerick champions will see Sixmilebridge looking to win a first Munster club hurling title since 2000, with several members of that team still in tow, including 37-year-old Niall Gilligan – whose performance on Sunday was described by O’Meara as “outstanding”.
There will be an interesting mix of emotions for Na Piarsaigh manager Seán Stack, one of Sixmilebridge’s most decorated hurlers, although not for the first time. In 1993, Stack lined out for Sixmilebridge in the Munster final against Tipperary champions Toomevara, who he was coaching at the time.
Meanwhile Cratloe’s first Munster football final appearance has been set for the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick on Sunday week, December 1st, where they’ll face Kerry champions Dr Crokes, who are looking to win a third consecutive Munster football title.
Only a major upset will likely deny the Kerry champions, although Cratloe are already enjoying a fairy-tale season: on Saturday afternoon they beat Doonbeg to win a first Clare football title, and just 24 hours later earned a two-point victory over Waterford champions Ballincourty, thus setting up a first provincial football final.
Cratloe, who are managed by new Clare football manager Colm Collins, actually ended up with eight members of Clare’s All-Ireland winning hurling panel on the field - including Pádraic “Podge” Collins, Conor McGrath, Conor Ryan, Brendan Bugler, Cathal McInerney and Liam Markham.
Finally, the Ulster club football final between Glenswilly and Ballinderry has been fixed for Healy Park, Omagh on Sunday week, with a 3pm start.