SATURDAY, Dr Harty Cup final: CBC v St Flannan’s, Mallow, 1pm
GETTING back into the final a year after being runners-up and with nearly a new team represents quite an achievement for CBC.
Only four of the team that lined out against Midleton CBS in Páirc Uí Rinn 12 months ago and one sub who was introduced in that game will be on the starting block against the most decorated school in the history of the competition.
This is very much a final story of a traditional school going in against a school far more renowned for its rugby exploits but one that has made great progress on the hurling front in recent times.
Flannan’s are back where they want to be, contesting a Harty final after being on the outside looking in for the past 15 years.
That’s a famine in this great hurling nursery and they will be all out to set the record straight here.
And they will start as favourites against a side that was not ranked among the leading contenders at the outset.
But CBC have arrived in this final on merit, topping a group that contained Ard Scoil Ris, Rochestown College and Templemore.
The subsequently got through two tough challenges in the quarter-final and semi-final against St Colman’s Fermoy and their conquerors last season, Midleton CBS.
There was certainly nothing easy about that passage to this defining day in Mallow and in the games against St Colman’s and Midleton CBS they had to exhibit true grit and abundant character, winning by the bare minimum in both games.
Coming out on the right side of games like that has to raise their levels of confidence and instill into them extra belief.
St Flannan’s got the better of Clare compatriots St Joseph’s Tulla and Our Lady’s Templemore along their route, the latter by two points in the semi-final.
Their standout players are Cian Galvin at centre-back and Diarmuid Cahill up in attack.
Conner Hegarty and Stephen Casey form a strong midfield partnership while Killian O’Connor and Ashley Brohan are highly-rated in the Banner County too.
However, CBC have really proven themselves, digging deep when that had to be done and knocking out the holders Midleton CBS was a real feather in their cap.
The absence of Denis McSweeney from midfield is a blow for CBC but they coped without him against Midleton CBS.
Daire Burke got a fine goal in that game too while Shane Kingston in defence and James Dwyer in the middle of the field are serious operators too.
Eoghan Kirby and Robbie Cotter are playing their part too while Niall Hartnett can cause problems if he gets the right supply.
Obviously, Flannan’s will be aware of the threat that Cahalane can pose and containing him will be a priority for them.
Likewise, CBC will be mindful of Cahill’s threat and how Cian Galvin can dominate at centre-back.
If tradition stands for anything then St Flannan’s have to be fancied and, by all accounts, a huge effort has been put in in the college to try and get this trophy back with the likes of Tony Kelly and Brendan Bugler involved.
CBC had a good workout after their win over Midleton CBS with Good Counsel from Wexford who ran St Kieran’s from Kilkenny close Having been in a final last time has to benefit them even if the majority of the personnel have changed. It’s a fascinating final because of the colleges backgrounds, a hurling stronghold against a hugely successful rugby school.
But on Saturday they’ll start on equal terms and this CBC team will not be found wanting in the character stakes.
They are slight underdogs but there’s no reason why they cannot come good again.
They have beaten some top teams along the way and this would be the biggest scalp of all. They need a positive start, get some early scores to settle them for an occasion that will be very demanding.
Flannan’s are the slight fancy as stated but CBC can just as easily turn the tables.