IT’S been too long, 25 years to be exact since we had an all-Cork pairing in the Dr Harty Cup final.
Well, maybe the wait will have been worthwhile because we have one now, Midleton CBS, who formed part of the final day back in 1994 against North Mon, against CBC, making their first final appearance in over 100 years.
Of course, that should be put in context, CBC has had its sporting emphasis on the oval ball for most of the period between that final appearance in 1918 up to the present day.
It’s only in recent years that hurling has become an important presence in the school again and that it is a force to be reckoned with.
Their return to the top table of colleges schools hurling is another illustration of how the sporting landscape continues to change.
Let’s put it like this if someone had said 10 years ago that CBC would be contesting a Harty Cup final there’s a likelihood that the men in white coats would be called for. CBC simply wasn’t a hurling school in those days.
It is now and the people who have made it so deserve immense credit, from the Headmaster down to the pupils who are playing the game.
Rugby has lost none of its status in all of this and, in fact, CBC are one of the fancied teams again for the Munster senior cup, a competition that is of paramount importance in the school.
So, everyone is a winner in the school now, rugby continues to thrive and will for many a long day while the game of hurling will continue on its own upward trajectory.
In all of this, we must mention Donal O’Mahony for the role he has played in bringing the game to the level that it is now at, Tony Wall from the Glen too for his input and Dr Larry Jordan for his support.
They are fortunate too that some of the best, young hurlers in the county are attending the school, players who will wear the red of Cork in the future.
A lot of hard work has gone into the project, it has been a gradual process and it’s now beginning to yield a dividend.
Midleton CBS was the last Cork school to win the Harty, going back to 2006 when they defeated St Flannan’s on an emotion-filled day in Cashel.
Sean Hurley was the man who led that team from the sideline back then and it must be strongly emphasised the part that he played in the sport in the school.
They are back in the final again, 12 months after being well beaten by a strong Ard Scoil Rís team and there is a fierce determination in the school to make amends for that loss and to bridge that 13-year gap since Paudie O’Sullivan led the trophy parade in Cashel.
They got a bit lucky last Saturday in the Fraher Field with a late, late goal. A team has to be deemed lucky when they get a score in those kinds of circumstances.
On the other side, it could be said that they exhibited great character in securing the winning score, fortunate though it may have been.
Overall, it should be noted that the real winner in all of this is Cork hurling and the fact that the Harty will have a Cork home for the next 12 months.
Thirteen years without is too long in a competition that was once dominated by Cork schools.
But that’s all about to change in a few weeks and when the time comes it will be very difficult to make a call on the outcome.
Of course, there was an added plus for Cork colleges hurling with two Cork schools contesting the B final as well.
Rochestown College will play Hamilton HS Bandon in that final and that game for those schools will be just as important as the Harty final will be for Christians and Midleton.
So, it’s good news all around for Cork schools, a far cry from the not too distant past when we had no participant in the last eight of the Harty.
And it must be noted that all four finalists are going to be involved in the All-Ireland series.