Last year, Dungarvan Colleges, composed of Dungarvan CBS and St Augustine’s, won a second consecutive title, but no amalgamated sides are in this year’s competition. The CBS, however, won the Munster and All-Ireland B championships last year and so they will now compete in the Harty under their own banner.
“It’s the first year in recent times we have competed on our own,” said Pat Collins of Dungarvan CBS, “you’d be going back as far as the 1950s and 60s.
“A lot of the players would have been on last year’s Harty panel, I’d say five of the starting team are still with us.
“We won the U15A Munster championship four years ago and we played Blackwater in the Dean Ryan final two years ago. For the last 25 years, we have been in the Waterford A championship, playing De La Salle on a regular basis and winning titles there as well.”
Dungarvan, who play Blackwater CS in Group 2 at Fraher Field today, can call on Kevin Daly and Patrick Curran, who were part of the Waterford team which won the All-Ireland minor title against Galway earlier this month. Their Lismore opponents have four of that team –Colm Roche, Shane Bennett, Cian Leamy and Michael Kearney – and Collins is aware of how tough a challenge awaits.
“Blackwater have four of the Waterford minor All-Ireland-winning team and have a Cork minor too,” he said.
“It’s probably a 50-50 game. ”
Group 2 is completed by Nenagh CBS, Midleton CBS and St Francis College, Rochestown. Nenagh and Midleton clash in Charleville today, with the Cork school aiming for a repeat of the victory which secured them a quarter-final spot last year.
In Group 1, Thurles CBS – beaten by Dungarvan in last year’s semi-final – will hope to get their campaign off to a winning start as they meet Castletroy College in Seán Treacy Park in Tipperary town. The other game in that section sees Gaelcholáiste Mhuire AG (the North Monastery’s Irish-speaking arm) play St Fintan’s CBS of Doon in Fermoy
Ardscoil Rís, the champions in 2010 and 2011, play Bandon’s Hamilton High School in Group 3 with Mallow the venue, and at Cashel the competition’s most successful side, 21-time winners St Flannan’s College from Ennis, play Waterford’s De La Salle, victorious in 2007 and ’08. St Colman’s are the fifth team in that group.
Like Group 1, there are just four teams in Group 4, where last year’s beaten finalists, Our Lady’s Secondary School of Templemore, face Charleville CBS at Claughaun in Limerick city. In the other game, Pobalscoil na Tríonóide from Youghal, making a return to the Harty after an absence of a few years, begin their campaign against CBS High School Clonmel in Cappoquin.