Primed to be pinned on Midleton wall of fame

The walls outside Mr Murphy’s classroom are postered with newspaper cuttings.

Primed to be pinned on Midleton wall of fame

Harty Cup final - Ardscoil Rís v Midleton CBS

Today: Mallow, 1.30pm

Referee: Fergal Horgan

Harty Cup match coverage from various reports stretch all the way back to the winter of 2005. That was a particularly memorable couple of months for Midleton CBS.

A red marker highlights the opening three games of the 2005/06 campaign, wins over Nenagh CBS, Coláiste Iósaef and Rice College garnered.

‘Majestic O’Sullivan the inspiration for Midleton’, read the headline in the Irish Examiner

the day after their quarter-final victory over Our Lady’s Templemore. The O’Sullivan being referenced here is team captain and centre-back Paudie.

And by sheer coincidence, Paudie is present in the canteen at the bottom of the corridor on the Friday we visit the school. He’s chatting away to a handful of the current team, as well as members of the past pupil’s union who have convened in advance of today’s final.

Conversation centers on bridging the 12-year gap to Midleton’s most recent Harty success. Too long, the common consensus.

Traffic on memory lane is busy this evening, past pupils pouring back over the all-conquering campaign from the middle of the last decade. The turning point en route to glory in the spring of 2006, it is said, was the semi-final win over Thurles CBS. We stumble upon a match programme from that game outside Mr Murphy’s classroom. Easily known why those in the canteen are recalling this particular fixture. The Thurles team-sheet shows Pádraic Maher at full-back, Michael Cahill at centre-back, James Barry at right half-forward, Timmy Hammersley in the corner and Pa Bourke at full-forward.

Aylwin Kearney had the job of containing Bourke that afternoon in Fermoy. At 16, the transition year student was one of the youngest members of Sean Hurley’s team. This afternoon, he’ll patrol the sideline alongside fellow joint-manager Tim Collins.

“That Harty Cup final against St Flannan’s was 100% the highlight of my time as a student in this school,” remarks the Technology teacher.

“Unlike the current team, we won nothing on the way up. In my fourth year, we had a team that just clicked. It was a huge achievement and something I’ll always remember. I know the current lads would trade everything they’ve won with this school in recent years for the Harty. The Harty is the big one.”

Not far inside the main entrance of Midleton CBS hang three photos. Side by side are the Harty Cup heroes of 1988, 1995 and 2006.

Further down the way are three laminated pages listing the students who played minor hurling for Cork. Brian Corcoran’s name features under the ‘1988’ heading. It reappears beside 1989, ‘90 and ‘91. Donal Óg Cusack pops up at the bottom of the first page beside the year 1994. Joe Deane, 1995, tops the middle page.

It’s a fairly sizeable group, those who pulled on the red and white of Cork upon leaving this school. Far smaller is those who walked out the main doors with a Harty medal in their pocket.

“We try and remind the lads how rare Harty successes are,” Kearney continues.

“This competition has been around for 100 years and there have only been three CBS teams who’ve done it. We tell that to the lads not to put pressure on them but to get across how rare the opportunity is.

“It’s nice to get on the wall. The first thing Paudie did when he came back was look at the wall. It brings back a lot of memories.

“We want to get CBS back to where we believe it should be, contesting, at the very least, semi-finals every year. That will only come with hard work. This group has worked incredibly hard. Our best lads who’d be in with Cork never missed a training. There was never any excuses. Every one of them deserves a [Harty] medal, but they’ll have to perform to get it.”

Today represents a fourth final of note in seven months for joint-captain Sean O’Leary Hayes.

Last July, the Midleton teenager captained Cork to their first Munster minor crown in nine years. But since then, the centre-back has endured his fair share of heartache; losing out to Galway in the All-Ireland final and Glen Rovers in the county minor decider.

He’s due a break.

“It should be coming, or else I don’t know what I’ll do,” he quips.

The earlier mentioned Mr Murphy, by the way, is science teacher Seamus Murphy. He’s been involved with many a Harty team down through the years. And should you find yourself in Mallow today, listen out for the chant, ‘put ‘em up on Seamie’s wall’.

Come Monday morning, O’Leary Hayes and his friends hope to find on Mr Murphy’s wall headlines similar to those written 12 years ago.

“Straightaway in first year, you notice the pictures, you see the big names that went before. I’m still looking at the Harty pictures even though there are only three of them. You know all the team, simply because they won the Harty. Whenever you see them around town, you know that is the fella who was on the Harty team. Ever since first year, the goal has been to win a Harty.

“The first year I played Harty, there was nothing said about it. But last year and this year, the trainers really got it going and have built a culture around it.

“To get up on the wall is the big motivation. This would be the ultimate way to finish. We’ve all played together since first year. It would be so incredibly special to finish the six years together as winners.”

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