By Brendan Larkin
CHAMPIONS St Flannan’s face arch rivals St Colman’s in an enthralling Dr Harty Cup (Munster Colleges SHC A) semi-final pairing at Claughan tomorrow (2.30pm).
Motivation will not be a factor.
"If you have to motivate a player to play Harty hurling, he is no use to you," said Flannan’s coach James O’Connor. "A player gets the chance to play Harty hurling for three years at most. He’ll give everything to win a medal. Playing Colman’s tomorrow will only motivate our lads further.
"We have a score to settle. We lost by a point to them in the Round Robin series and have been itching for a rematch. I felt we were a bit too cocky and paid the price.
"We went on to qualify but we haven’t been as good as we can be. Maybe the lads are holding something in reserve.
"There is great Harty tradition in both schools and I expect tomorrow’s game to go right down to the wire.
"People will point to the fact that chasing our third title in-a-row as a great incentive for us, but team selections differ from year to year and the only thing that matters is winning."
Colman’s coach Garvan Queeny agrees. "What has happened in the past is of no relevance. Even our first meeting this year counts for nothing. We came very close to going out to Nenagh in the quarter-final, a game we were expected to win. We didn’t perform in the drawn match and were fortunate to get the second chance.
"We’re going into tomorrow’s game knowing it will take a massive effort to beat Flannan’s. We respect them but don’t fear them. We are at full strength, have prepared well and there will be no excuses if we are beaten."
These sides have dominated the competition for the past decade. Tomorrow’s winners will again be favourites to continue that trend.
When these teams met in the second round back in October, Colman’s produced a marvellous display to win (2-15 to 2-14).
Surprisingly they almost crashed out to Nenagh in the quarters, surviving thanks to a last-minute point from Adrian Mannix to force a replay which they won comfortably.
Without playing to their potential Flannan’s have got this far and appear to offer more. With seven of last year’s All-Ireland winning team, the prospect of making it three Harty wins in a row and the chance to atone for the second round defeat should give the Ennis college an advantage. But it could take another meeting to decide the issue.