WHEN the Dr Harty Cup final is played in the spring of 2018, it will be 12 years since a Cork school got its hands on it.
That was back in 2006 when a very well constructed Midleton CBS team took down a much more fancied St Flannan’s side in the final in Cashel.
That Midleton team had Paudie O’Sullivan, Luke O’Farrell, Brian Lawton, Paul Haughney and Rob White backboning it.
A couple of Cork schools have reached the final since, St Colman’s Fermoy last season, Rochestown College prior to that in 2015 and Charleville CBS a number of years ago.
However, the plate has remained empty since that Midleton CBS success which, of course, is in stark contrast to bygone days.
The old trophy was once almost the sole preserve of Cork schools.
Admittedly, that was a long time ago when the North Mon and Farranferris won 26 titles between them, 19 for the Mon and seven for the now out of existence Farna.
St Colman’s have won it on nine different occasions, the last time in 2003 when they completed three-in-row.
Midleton CBS have won it three times while Chriost Ri and Iognaid Ris have one each.
But that was then and this is now and there is cautious optimism that the famine might be nearing its end.
A few seasons passed not that long ago when Cork could not even get one school into the knockout stages but now two have already made it into the last eight, Midleton CBS and St Colman’s.
At the time of writing, CBC hadn’t qualified but they were confidently expected to defeat Castletroy CS yesterday to go through as well.
And it could get a lot better next month if Gaelcholaiste Mhuire defeat Doon CBS and the belief there is that they will have a great opportunity in that encounter.
The Northside school have the excellent Daire Connery and Robert Downey as key players.
That would give Cork four of the last eight which would be an excellent return.
Midleton CBS and Ardscoil Ris were involved in a great battle last Wednesday before the Limerick school prevailed to win by a point.
Leaving Boherlahan that day, the thinking was that these two might well meet up again in a semi-final or final.
It was a splendid game that went right to the wire and little or nothing between the teams.
Midleton CBS have some of their best players for quite some time with Ger Millerick, Aaron Walsh-Barry, Sean O’Leary-Hayes, Liam O’Shea and Joe Stack backboning the team.
This is considered to be one of the best balanced Midleton teams for quite some time, maybe going back to 2006 and opportunity is knocking for them now.
St Colman’s are considered to be very strong too with Brian and Eoin Roche key players and a very good goalkeeper in Eoin Davis.
Of course, going forward there are no guarantees and the title holders, Our Lady’s Templemore are safely berthed in the quarter-finals too after three straight group wins.
Nenagh CBS and Thurles CBS remain in the equation in the same group as Gaelcholaiste Mhuire and Doon and nothing will be finalised there until December 6th and you could have a situation where three teams could finish on four points, Nenagh, Thurles and the Cork school.
The last eight in the New Year might look like this: Ard Scoil Ris, Our Lady’s Templemore, Midleton CBS, CBC, John the Baptist CS, Nenagh CBS, Gaelcholaiste Mhuire, St Colman’s.
The emergence of CBC as a formidable force is a great story given that up to a few years ago this was a mostly rugby playing school only.
They used to participate in the old Lord Mayor’s Cup but now through the excellent work of Donal O’Mahony and Tony Wall, they are a force to reckon with.
A Cork victory in the competition would further enhance the current standing of underage hurling in the county following the All-Ireland Under-17 success and the minors finishing up as All-Ireland runners-up.
There’s sure to be a lot of good hurling to be played in the early new year and, hopefully, when it’s done and dusted the old Harty Cup will be back on Leeside.