IT'S 105 years since the first Harty Cup was staged, Rockwell College beating Christians in the final, but the competition has lost none of its lustre.
Conditions at Bansha were demanding, to say the least, for the quarter-final meeting of St Colman's and Thurles last week but the players and supporters rose above them. It was classic winter hurling.
The standard was incredible given the heavy surface and howling gale, which the scoreline reflected, Thurles coming through 1-16 to 0-17 after pilfering 1-1 in the dying minutes. There were 13 different scorers from play, and many of those points were sublime.
Tommy Maher buried the decisive goal with aplomb from a free, all the more impressive given Thurles had their issues from placed balls.
Tipp minor All-Ireland winner Joe Egan made some key plays, scoring a point and also getting fouled for three frees, wing-back Stephen Walsh bombed over two super points and Robbie Ryan clipped over some gems on his way to 0-6 but Colman's had a host of excellent performers too.
Midfielder Ronan O'Connell was tremendous all through, with 0-3 from play and multiple possessions, while David Barry, Michael O'Driscoll and Óisín Fitzgerald were brilliant.
What was galling for Colman's, with former Limerick hurler Andrew O'Shaughnessy who fired them to three Hartys in a row from 2001 to 2003 on the sideline, was the absence of Cillian Tobin. The Bride Rovers club man was crucial for the Cork minors in winning the 2021 All-Ireland and helped his club to a county final that season. Cruelly injury limited his contribution against the Glen two seasons ago and while he came on in Bansha, he couldn't get to the pitch of the game.
The atmosphere was electric, despite the weather.
The Colman's crew massed together in a sea of green and white on the bank. Thurles' pupils packed into the stand and nearly took the roof off it when the sliotar exploded in the net in added time.
A minute's silence for the late, great Paudie Palmer was impeccably observed, which was fitting as the Cork broadcasting legend promoted schools GAA passionately. Paudie would have been impressed by the refereeing of Aghada's Cathal McAllister, who left the game flow yet only had to flash one yellow.
Colman's lifted the trophy for the first time in 1948 and again in '49, picked up the title again in 1997, before a golden era from 1992 to 2003 when they won five in 10 seasons. Despite their best efforts this season, the wait for a 10th Harty goes on.
Thurles have made the final 18 times, winning on eight occasions, the last coming in 2015 when they edged out Rochestown College after a replay. To make another decider they'll have to beat another Cork school in the semi-final on Saturday, Midleton CBS.
Like Thurles, who have Pádraic Maher involved in their management, Midleton struck late in their quarter, Jack Leahy and Ben Walsh goals denying De La Salle Waterford.