THERE is seldom room for too much sentiment in the cut and thrust of hurling championship action, but if there was surely most neutrals would have a soft spot for St Ita’s.
Based in picturesque Pilmore in the shade of Youghal and Killeagh and across the water from Fr O’Neill’s territory, St Ita’s have some big-hitters in their neighbourhood.
But they too, have their own big hitter in Seamie Harnedy, who has thrust this small junior club into national prominence with his heroics for the Cork senior hurling team since his debut year in 2013.
Back home, Seamie has done his utmost to drive his beloved club to the promised land of East Cork Championship glory. In recent years they have always been thereabouts, but never quite there.
Hope springs eternal and after seeing Russell Rovers and Lisgoold win their first junior A grade titles in recent times, St Ita’s will again harbour their hopes that this could be their year.
They have had chances in close matches to get over the line, but after two final losses to future provincial champions Dungourney and Russell Rovers coupled with another few near misses, Ita’s know they are not too far away. It’s all about trying to win the Jamsey Kelleher Cup, said club secretary Siobhán Foley following the virtual AGM.
We have been close before and this year we hope to have a few players returning and also have a few more coming up from juvenile.”
Siobhán remains at the top table for another year in the company of club chairman Liam Sloane and new treasurer Michael Cunningham.
However, there is a new look to the management structure with incoming boss Martin Walsh, being joined by Michael Griffin and Pádraig Gould who will look after the coaching duties.
Off the field, the club is planning. Early exploratory meetings have already taken place in relation to forming a plan which will be implemented over the next few years.
Apart from those landmark East Cork final appearances in 2015 against Dungourney and three years later against Russell Rovers, St Ita’s most famous days have all come at junior B level.
They won the second tier of the divisional championship for the second time in 2007 and then climaxed a wonderful few months by being crowned county champions. Victory came in a replayed decider against Castlemagner. Ita’s lost narrowly to Ballingarry in the Munster final.
Fourteen years on, winning the coveted A grade in the hotly contested eastern championship would be the club’s greatest hour. Like all years, such a task will not be easy!