GIVEN the current state of no play, it was inevitable that this season’s Dr Harty Cup would not be happening.
Those charged with administering second-level school competitions held out for as long as they could before drawing the curtain on the season.
The loss of this season’s Harty is a huge blow and for some students, it may well have been their last opportunity of winning one of the most prized possessions in school’s sports.
Being in possession of a Harty Cup medal is a huge achievement that one can look back on many years later and, of course, it’s a stepping stone to greater riches for many players.
Down through the years, this observer has been privileged to report on numerous finals, finals containing a Cork representative or representatives.
The road to a Harty Cup final can be very difficult, getting through the preliminary stages onto the business end of the campaign.
Wednesday afternoons were mostly set aside for the opening rounds and in days gone by you could have a few thousand in attendance in popular cup venues like Emly, Ballyagran, Feenagh, Kilmallock and so on.
Games were played in very poor weather conditions but great rivalries were forged down through the years, particularly between the most successful school in the competition, St Flannan’s and St Colman’s Fermoy.
Between the years 1998 to 2003 the old trophy was the sole preserve of the two, Flannan’s winning in the years 1998, 1999 and 2000. But the pendulum swung very much in favour of the Fermoy school for the next three years and they did their three-in-a-row in 2001, 2002 and 2003, defeating the Ennis school in the final on two of those years.
Those were monumental occasions with the final venue bursting at the seams.
Probably one of the best Harty Cup players of all time, Andrew O’Shaughnessy from Kilmallock starred in those St Colman’s victories, delivering 2-6 in the final of 2001.
That St Colman's team was superbly managed by Denis Ring who got the very best out of the players at his disposal.
Nine times out of ten when Flannan’s contested a final they were installed as hot favourites as they were in 2006 when they faced Midleton CBS in the decider in Cashel.
The game was fraught with tension throughout but the feeling among the huge attendance was that when push came to shove, Flannan’s would have the edge.
But Midleton CBS dug as deep that day as any team from that school ever did and emerged victorious to send their huge East Cork following into raptures.
Here is an abbreviated report from that final...
Midleton CBS shocked Harty Cup favourites Flannan's to land the title at Cashel yesterday.
Flannan's looked set for victory at half-time as they led Middleton 0-9 to 1-1 and only for a brilliant save by Midleton keeper Ciaran Cronin just before half-time St Flannan's would have been beyond reach.
However, the Cork side were transformed in the second half. They scored 1-7 to Flannan's 0-3 and were deserving winners when the final whistle sounded.
R White 0-6, E O'Keeffe 1-1, L O'Farrell 1-0, P O'Sullivan 0-1.
C Tierney 0-3, R Horan, D Ryan 0-2 each, S Hickey, M Earley C Madden, D Stack 0-1 each.
C Cronin; C Fogarty, A Kearney, A Walsh; S Murphy, P O'Sullivan, P O'Shea; B Lawton, J Keane; E O'Keeffe, R White, E Walsh; D Ahern, L O'Farrell, F Day.
P Haughney for E Walsh.
A number of that Midleton CBS team went on to greater glory with Cork in various grades with Paudie O’Sullivan, Brian Lawton, Luke O’Farrell and Paul Haughney lining out at senior level.
The aforementioned goalkeeper, Ciaran Cronin is now the Imokilly senior team manager while Rob White starred for Carrigtwohill in their never to be forgotten Cork County SHC triumph of 2011.
Some of the greatest ever Cork hurlers, among them Brian Corcoran learned their trade in the Harty Cup.
This season’s final would probably have been played around this time but sadly that is not going to happen now.
And that’s a pity for those pupils now in their final year at second level.
But the Harty will be back like all the rest and it will be as competitive as ever even if some of the schools that once were so dominant are not so anymore.