Though they lost, Michael recalls that game with great fondness: “No one gave us a chance yet we almost caused the shock of the year. We had a goal disallowed while Flannan’s scored a dubious goal which many people in the crowd felt was thrown into our net rather than hit.
“Like Flannan’s, De La Salle was a boarding school in those days and we got players in from Tipperary, Wexford, Kilkenny and Waterford, four traditional hurling counties, and our coaches Donal Kavanagh, a Kilkenny man from Rower Inistioge, and Mick Golden succeeded in putting a very good team together.
“In those days it was straight knock out and after drawing with St Colmans in the semi-final, we beat them by four points in the replay to set up a final meeting with Flannans. They hadn’t won the title since 1958 while we had never won it, so it made for an interesting final.
“We had a great team that included Seamus Daly from Ballyduff. He was outstanding at centre back. “Top” Hackett from Killenaule in Co Tipperary, Liam Conran (Wexford), John Brennan (Kilkenny), Donal Fitzpatrick (Ferrybank, Waterford) who was our main scorer, and Michael Whelan (Ballygunner) were among our best players, while “Del” Kirwin was our captain.
“There was huge interest in the game in Waterford and the school travelled in their thousands to the Tipperary venue, in the hope of pulling off a shock win. It all appeared to be going according to plan when Gerry Kirwan crashed home a goal which gave us the lead in the second half, but Flannans who had lost five finals previously, had a couple of very shrewd mentors in Fr Willie Walsh, Fr Seamus Gardiner and Fr Hugh O’Dowd.
“They were known as the Holy Trinity and must have had some divine inspiration because they made a crucial switch which won the game for them. They moved Jarleth Colleran from midfield back on Liam Conran and it worked extremely well in that it succeeded in taking the sting out of our attack.”
The Waterford minors avenged the defeat in the Munster minor championship later that year, beating Clare with six De La Salle players.
Michael Power is hoping his son Stephen can win that coveted Harty Cup medal.
“There is a lot more riding on the result than people think. A DLS win would be a tremendous boost to under age hurling in both the college and county, and Waterford needs that.
“The present DLS team is far more skilful than we were. It’s a very balanced side with excellent backs and some very good forwards, but it is going to take a massive effort to bridge that 41-year gap.
“The one advantage they have is that most of them have been used to playing in county finals and have experienced the highs and lows. Coupled with that, several of them are current Waterford minors, so they’ll have no fear of Flannans despite their great tradition in this championship.”
This is Flannans ninth final in 10 years — they were beaten by Our Ladys in the quarter-final of the 2002 championship. They have won five of them, the last in 2005, and have 21 titles. DLS on the other hand have never won the Harty Cup. This is only their third final appearance, their first since 1976 when Flannans provided the opposition in Bansha.
Two years ago DLS had Flannans on the rack up in New Inn but lacked the know how to kill them off and eventually failed by two points; the Clare college went on to win the title.
It’s generally accepted that this present Flannans side is not as good as in previous years, but often a team with no real stars can step up on the day. Defensively they are very good, with Sylvie Óg Linane (son of former Galway stalwart of the same name), the Glynn brothers Brian and Eamon, and Ivor White unbeatable against Waterford colleges in the semi-final. DLS will earn every score off this quartet.
Kevin Heagney should ensure Flannans win their share of midfield possession while Donagh Stack — a Cork minor last year — Eamonn Callinan and John Conlon will pose problems.
However DLS displayed great quality to see off Thurles CBS in the second semi-final. Four points down early in the second half, they put in a storming finish to win by two, thanks to two superb frees by substitute Adam Brophy.
The Waterford side have tremendous physical presence and provided the occasion and the hype of the game doesn’t affect them, they have every chance of winning.