MONDAY: All-Ireland Colleges SHC semi-final: Presentation College, Athenry v Midleton CBS, Kilmallock, 2pm.
THE Dr Harty Cup is in safe keeping in Midleton CBS but the year is far from done and on Bank Holiday this great hurling academy will hope to take a giant leap towards adding the All-Ireland title to that success.
Presentation College Athenry provide the opposition in the semi-final and, by all accounts, they are going to be formidable opponents.
The sides met earlier in the season in a challenge but both were minus key players. That game will be of no relevance on Monday and, according to Midleton CBS mentor, Ian Cooney, they are under no illusions surrounding the task confronting them.
“They were beaten in last year’s final and, by all accounts, they are a good team with five or six starters from last year plus panel members.
“They also won the under 16 and a half All-Ireland final this year, beating Thurles in the final so, obviously, hurling right now is very strong in the college.
“But we are looking forward to the game, we have a lot of games behind us but the boys have miles put up as well so they might be a bit fresher than us.’’
The CBS mentor has been delighted with the way the players have reacted to a few of the precarious positions that they have found themselves in over the course of the campaign thus far.
“Yes, we have been in a few tight situations, finding ourselves needing late goals in a few matches.
“We’d, obviously, prefer to have the games put to bed earlier but, at the same time, the players have shown great resilience and character.
“We dig deep and it has got us results.
“I suppose the Harty was the big thing for us but we haven’t been in an All-Ireland semi-final since 1995.
“We’d love to make a bit of history by getting to our first final but we are certainly not looking beyond this game on Monday.
“Our best display I would say so far was against St Flannan’s, that was a complete performance and you’d be aiming for something like that again."
Midleton CBS will be looking again to the players who brought them Harty Cup glory and that starts with Jack McGann in goal who has been in terrific form.
Ciaran Joyce has been a pillar of consistency in defence as has Darragh Moran and Dylan Hogan. Ryan McCarthy has delivered big scores, one of them being the late, late goal that saw off De La Salle Waterford in the Harty semi-final.
Joe Stack was marked absent for the All-Ireland quarter-final against Colaiste Eoin from Dublin with a hand injury but his return will boost the attack considerably.
Jason Hankard is another player with great aerial ability and if this team puts it together for an hour, they’ll be hard to stop.
For Stack, it’s a huge week as he is a vital member of the school’s soccer team that competes in the All-Ireland senior colleges final on Wednesday.
Athenry were much too strong for Gort CS in the Connacht final, winning on a scoreline of 1-14 to 0-10 and they have 11 players who featured in the extra-time final defeat to St Kieran’s last season in action here.
This will probably be Midleton’s biggest test up to now and they’ll need to be fully tuned in from the off.
They’ll not be beaten easily here and our belief is that they won’t.
Next Wednesday it will be the turn of CBC to try and reach the All-Ireland final.
They face the might of St Kieran’s Kilkenny who will start as favourites but the Cork school have their own fine pedigree coming into this game.
They have a fine win over Gort CS behind them from the quarter-final and won’t be overawed.
It all makes for two big days for two Cork schools in their bid to enhance the game on Leeside.
Both Midleton CBS and CBC have big hurdles to surmount but an all Cork final and a repeat of the Harty final remains a possibility.