Our Lady’s looking for duals to land crown

Dual All-Ireland minor medallists are rare, making it an even smaller club those to have achieved that as well as winning a Dr Harty Cup.

Nemo Rangers and Cork star Brian Murphy, the gold-standard against which to measure dual success, has won a Corn Uí Mhuirí medal with Coláiste Chríost Rí and so did Tony O’Sullivan, with Cork and North Mon.

John McGrath and Colin O’Riordan will enter into that select bracket on Sunday if they help Our Lady’s Secondary School of Templemore to victory against Dungarvan Colleges in the Harty final. Martin Burke, assistant manager to Tom Byrnes, acknowledges the benefits of having two players with such experience.

“We’re lucky to have two dual stars like that,” he said, “they’re leaders on and off the field.

“They have been great for us throughout the competition and Sunday is another test now. Seeing them do it week in and week out inspires the rest of the team, but we have a great spine overall.

“It’s rare that you have two players with All-Ireland hurling and football medals and hopefully they can add another one on Sunday.”

Winners of the competition in 1978 as Templemore CBS prior to amalgamation, Our Lady’s were beaten finalists in 2000 and ’02.

Before this year’s competition, they were probably seen as being behind Thurles CBS and Nenagh CBS in terms of Tipperary sides likely to contend, but travelling under the radar has suited them just fine, in Burke’s opinion.

“We have been underdogs in every game, so that has helped us,” he said.

“Maybe it was the case of John and Colin getting the limelight, but there have been others, like Pádraig Hogan, Michael Campion and Tommy Nolan, who have been just as good.

“This team lost a Pearse Cup [U15] final to Blackwater and won the Kinnane Cup [U16½ B] and only last week we won the Corn an Uachtaráin [senior B football] against Abbey CBS, so big games aren’t anything new for the team.”

Emerging unbeaten from Group B served to provide even more belief.

“When the draws were made, we’d have been looking at second place,” Burke said. “The Blackwater game was obviously the key match, we out-hurled them for 30 minutes and though they came back at us we held out.

“That was the catalyst to go on, and we kept improving. Even though we drew with Ardscoil Rís in the semi-final the first day, it might have been in the back of my mind that our chance was gone, but the players came back in the replay and made sure they finished the job.”

Now, it is a clash with the reigning champions, and Burke knows that it is the biggest test.

“We were in Dungarvan’s group last year, and they beat us comprehensively,” he said. “Dungarvan CBS on their own have won the B title and this team are going for two-in-a-row, but we have a chance. There are only about five of our team underage again next year, it’ll be many fellas’ last-ever Harty match so they’ll want to make the most of the opportunity.”

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