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23 years after All-Ireland club win, Clare great brings curtain down on club playing career

Niall Gilligan’s Sixmilebridge career drew to a a close yesterday.

Niall Gilligan has called time on his Sixmilebridge hurling career.
Niall Gilligan has called time on his Sixmilebridge hurling career.
Image: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

THE CLARE HURLING kingpins saw their schedule for 2019 draw to a close yesterday with the lengthy and celebrated playing career of Niall Gilligan coming to an end in the process.

Sixmilebridge bowed out of the Munster club race at the first hurdle, decisively beaten by the reigning champions Ballygunner from Waterford.

The exit marks the close of 43-year-old Gilligan’s club career after he indicated in the wake of their Clare senior triumph three weeks ago that he would be calling time after this campaign concluded.

Gilligan did not see action during yesterday’s game at O’Garney Park but was introduced late on during last month’s Clare county final win over Cratloe. That success ensured he will collect a seventh county senior hurling medal.

An All-Ireland club winner in 1996, Gilligan was part of Clare’s Liam MacCarthy Cup success the following year and won an All-Star award in 1999.

He retired from the Clare senior ranks in January 2010 but went on to wield a considerable influence his decade on the club game.

In 2013 at the age of 37 he shot 1-6 in the Clare senior decider as Sixmilebridge ended an 11-year wait for county glory. In 2015 he surpassed that scoring return by amassing 0-13 in a brilliant free-taking display and winning the man-of-the-match award as Sixmilebridge defeated Clonlara.

pat-o-donnell-presents-the-man-of-the-match-award-to-niall-gilligan Sponsor Pat O' Donnell presents the Man of the Match award to Niall Gilligan of Sixmilebridge in October 2015. Source: Gareth Williams/INPHO

Two years ago he was again involved as Sixmilebridge took Clare honours after a replay against Clooney-Quin and this season after starting out as part of the club’s intermediate squad, he linked up with the senior setup as the 2019 championship progressed.

“It’s the end of an era for Bridge hurling,” remarked Sixmilebridge manager Tim Crowe to the Clare Echo after yesterdays game.

“I presume he’ll get involved in coaching and administration down the line. We in The Bridge and Clare realise he is an outstanding servant.”

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About the author:

Fintan O'Toole

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