HARTY CUP hurling is all about mastering the weather.
While skill is usually rewarded in the greatest field game of them all, a tough edge is vital when the pitches are so heavy they’re a throwback to Christy Ring’s era.
Gaelcholáiste Mhuire AG — An Mhainistir Thuaidh needed that combination of heart and talent to keep their hopes alive in this season’s Harty in wet and wild conditions against Blackwater on Monday.
After a loss in their opening group game, another defeat would have ended the AG’s campaign.
Yet the northside school found a way to win against a side featuring six Waterford minors from the past two years. The AG have only one Leaving Cert starting in what is a very young unit, but despite a nightmare start — down 1-3 to no score — they rallied to an eventual 1-16 to 2-10 triumph.
It means the storied hurling academy will now meet St Flannan’s from Clare next Wednesday with the victor progressing the last eight after Christmas.
Cork minor Luke Horgan showed just why he’s been marked down as one to watch since his Glen Rovers group captured the Féile in 2016 by slipping over four points from play, while his Blackpool comrade Dylan Long nailed seven points.
Long is renowned as an ace underage free-taker, but also nabbed 0-2 from play and cut a soaring sideline between the posts from 50 metres when the game was on the line.
Blackwater were on the front foot when Ryan Bennett stitched a sweet goal, followed by points from the impressive Aaron Ryan, Oisín O’Gorman, and Jamie Power.
A well-turned out Killeagh was the venue for this clash and conditions were ever changing between all four seasons for the game and conditions underfoot reflected this.
Some calmly-converted Long frees settled the Cork outfit and the turning points came when Na Piarsaigh’s Caoimhín Ó Muimhneacháin, another former Cork minor, caught the sliotar and buried it.
They tightened up at the back with Micheál Ó Maoláin leading with both possessions and turnovers. Sam Bairéid, Scott Ó Cróinín and Caoimhín Ó Síocháin were impenetrable in the full-back line. Shane Ó Mathúna and Donagh Ó Cochláin, two of the younger players drove upfield time and again from the half-back line, and they were one up at the break.
Facing into a second-half gale, the AG’s work-rate was ferocious. Adam Ó Lordáin dominated at centre-back while Whitechurch’s Ronán Ó Murchú and Donal Ó Murchú got a grip at midfield.
Horgan’s sharpshooting was critical against the wind and when Blackwater trimmed the gap to two, Nathan Ó Gabhláin slammed over a fine score to seal the deal.