MIDLETON CBS secured their first Dr Harty Cup on Sunday, April 17, 1988, after they defeated Thurles CBS in Mitchelstown.
A total of 33 years may have passed since that euphoric day, but the memories are still fresh for their talented forward Paudie O’Brien who was a key player in their Munster Colleges Senior A Championship glory.
“We beat Thurles by four points, 2-7 to 2-3. They got a few late scores, but we were well on top. It was a huge win for the school. We got a huge ovation when we came home with the cup that night. There was a parade through the town.
"The years are going too quick."
Midleton CBS who were backboned by the very successful Midleton club team of that era won the Munster Colleges B title in 1985, before qualifying for three successive Dr Harty Cup finals. They lost the first two, before eventually securing Munster glory in 1988.
O'Brien said the squad had great ‘resilience’.
“We lost in 1986 to North Mon and we lost to St Flannan’s College in 1987. We had a serious crop of players. We got to three successive Dr Harty Cup finals which shows the talent in our squad.
“We should have won the Dr Harty Cup in 1986 against North Mon. We then got hammered in the 1987 final.
"The margins are very small. In the 1988 Munster semi-final against St Flannan’s, we were four points down with time almost up.
"I got a goal before Connie O’Regan struck the equaliser to secure a draw. We had huge resilience. We beat them comfortably in the replay.
“John Dillon, David Quirk, Eamon Coughlan and I played in all the four finals. The majority of players were from Midleton. We were very strong at that time. We had nine players on the starting 15.
"We won three minor county titles with Midleton in 1987, 1988, and 1989. We had four lads from Erin's Own who all made huge contributions. We also had club players from Dungourney, Castlemartyr, Killeagh and Carrigtwohill. We all got on great."
Midleton CBS ultimately lost the All-Ireland Colleges final in 1988 after they succumbed to a very talented St Kieran’s team from Kilkenny. The absence of Erin's Own player John Dillon was a big loss.
“We were beaten by a few points. They had DJ Carey in their team. We were missing our captain John Dillon who was a huge loss.
"It was a huge achievement to make the final, but to lose it was so disappointing. I suffered defeat against Kilkenny opponents in both the 1988 All-Ireland Colleges final and the All-Ireland minor final.”
Midleton CBS were guided to Dr Harty Cup glory by a very strong management team.
“We had good mentors. We had Donal Power, God rest his soul, in charge. He was a great man. We had Sean Hurley, Mick Hennessy and Liam O’Brien also involved.
"They all worked very well together. Pat Hartnett and John Fenton also gave a dig out in 1988. The Harty is a tough competition and played in tough conditions. You need everything to go your way.”
The last time Midleton CBS won the Dr Harty Cup in 2019, four players from the victorious 1988 team had sons involved.
“Connie O’Regan, Carey Joyce, Niall Walshe and I all had sons on the 2019 winning team. It was unusual but very nice. It was great to play our part in helping to create a strong tradition for the school hurling team.
Cork hurling legend Brian Corcoran operated at corner-back on the successful Midleton CBS team of 1988. He always knew the Erin's Own player was destined for greatness.
“Brian Corcoran was very young playing in the 1988 final. He was a Cork minor at the age of 15.
"He could play anywhere. He was an unbelievable player. He is probably one of the best hurlers I have ever seen. He could do anything.
"He was a serious talent. He is a lovely guy.
"There was no fuss. He loved hurling and he was a special player.”
O'Brien enjoyed a very successful career with Midleton and turned 50 last May, but is still passing on his GAA knowledge in his role as a GDA.
“Sean Crowley and I are currently covering East Cork and the city. We are doing a lot of webinars and coaching sessions over Zoom and on YouTube.
"IT has proved very helpful and time-efficient. Since the primary schools reopened we are back in there working with the pupils once again which is great.”
O'Brien’s love for GAA is infectious. The Midleton man enjoyed a stellar year in 1988.
“I have great memories of a great era. 1988 was a special year. To win a Harty Cup and to captain the Cork minors to Munster championship glory was brilliant.
"I also won a minor and U21 county with Midleton. I am fortunate I have my health. I am now passing on my knowledge and love to the next generation.”