The all-Cork Harty Cup final will be a special occasion for the Leeside hurling faithful

The all-Cork Harty Cup final will be a special occasion for the Leeside hurling faithful
Christian Brothers College coach Donal O'Mahony with captain Shane Barrett. Picture: George Hatchell

WHEN there a winless run becomes too lengthy, the landmarks become like millstones.

During Arsenal’s sequence from 2005-14 when the club failed to land any silverware, pretty much every live game broadcast from the Emirates Stadium would pan around the signage on the top tier, which listed every trophy claimed since their first FA Cup in 1930. 

As 2005 disappeared in the rear-view mirror, the routine nearly became a parody, but everybody remembered just how long it had been since the club had won anything.

Perhaps it’s a personal sense of injustice, but we don’t recall the same deal being made of the fact that Tottenham Hotspur haven’t won a trophy since the 2008 league cup, or that Liverpool’s claiming off the same competition four years later remains their last gong. 

Similarly, when it comes to Cork there is never a shortage of material.

In the same 2005 that Arsenal won the FA Cup, Cork made it two consecutive senior hurling All-Irelands but, despite reaching the final the following year as a three-in-a-row was claimed, the clock remains stopped on 30 wins, with the current drought the longest the county has ever experienced (1954-66 was the previous longest).

When listing all of the many factors that have caused the stagnation, the county’s lack of Dr Harty Cup success is also cited. Paudie O’Sullivan has almost become the most famous Harty-winning captain by virtue of leading Midleton CBS to the title in 2006, which has remained Cork’s last win.

Paudie O'Sullivan lifts the Harty Cup. Picture: Dan Linehan
Paudie O'Sullivan lifts the Harty Cup. Picture: Dan Linehan

Thankfully, he will be succeeded on that front next Saturday as Midleton go head-to-head with CBC in the first all-Cork decider since 1994, when North Monastery won their last title, beating Midleton. 

In addition, the B championship, the Corn Thomáis Mhic Choilm – named for the late Tom Colum, the long-serving efficient servicing officer for second-level competitions – is also an all-Leeside affair as Bandon’s Hamilton High School clash with St Francis College of Rochestown. 

While it won’t automatically result in Cork domination at adult level, to have such a strong state of affairs at schools level can only bode well, all the more so when only Midleton would have been historically considered a powerhouse in Munster.

Christians lost the first Harty final to Rockwell College in 1918 and since then rugby has become the priority for the Sidney Hill outfit. However, in 2014-15 they reached the B final and moved up to the tier for the following campaign, marking their return with a group-stage over CBS High School Clonmel.

Then, as now, current Cork senior selector Donal O’Mahony was involved and, after that win in Clashmore, he was pleased with how things had gone.

“We wanted to see if we could be competitive or not, that was our goal,” he said.

“To compete at this level, that’s a big step up for us and that was our aim going in. You could see there that we have a good bunch of fellas who are going to give it everything they’ve got.

“Thankfully, we came out on the right side of the result today, it could have gone either way there halfway through the second half. We got the momentum and we drove on so we’re delighted.”

The 19 Christians players who saw game-time that day – including Robbie O’Flynn – were drawn from 11 different clubs, but getting them to gel together wasn’t a problem.

Eoin McGrath of St Colman's, going high for the ball with Robbie O'Flynn of Christians. Picture: Denis Minihane.
Eoin McGrath of St Colman's, going high for the ball with Robbie O'Flynn of Christians. Picture: Denis Minihane.

“It was a good team performance, that’s what we’re all about,” O’Mahony said.

“We have a great spread of clubs and we had had a few practice games which went reasonably well for us. We want to send the players back to their clubs as better players and playing at the top level in Munster is going to do that.”

Since then, the progress has been incremental, going further each year than in the campaign before. Their semi-final win over Thurles CBS – Harty royalty with eight wins since 1933 – was a prime example of how to manage a game in tough conditions and getting over such a test will ensure that nobody is overawed for the big occasion.

Against that is the fact that Midleton have impressed throughout the campaign and while their semi-final with Waterford’s De La Salle wasn’t easy by any means, they still retained enough belief that Ryan McCarthy was able to fire in a late winning free to ensure that two Cork teams would be clashing in the decider.

It promises to be a great occasion.

Midleton CBS's Jason Hankard about to catch the sliothar over De La Salle's Tom Gallagher. Picture: Sean Byrne
Midleton CBS's Jason Hankard about to catch the sliothar over De La Salle's Tom Gallagher. Picture: Sean Byrne

 

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