After 101 years of waiting, the Christian Brothers College supporters weren’t in any rush to leave a damp Kilfinane on Saturday.
They were celebrating their return to a Dr Harty Cup final having lost the first decider in 1918 to Rockwell College.
That their opponents will be Midleton CBS, adds to the intrigue. The all-Cork showdown is sure to attract a bumper crowd on Saturday, February 16. Not since 1994 (North Mon defeated Midleton CBS) has two teams from the county contested the final.
“It is our fourth year back in the competition and we have got to two quarter-finals, a semi-final, and now a final,” manager Tony Wall said. “This was a big step ... but the bigger step will be the next day. I am delighted for the school and Dr Jordan who took a huge gamble in bringing hurling into Christians, and for principal David Lordan, and Donal O’Mahony who was ploughing a lone furrow for a long time. In the last few years a few more of us have got involved and it is going well.”
It wasn’t until the very end they could relax. Thurles CBS – who were already beaten by CBC in the group stage – had the wind to their backs for the first 30 minutes, after which they led by two points. With a quarter of an hour remaining, it was level pegging. CBC then made sure of victory with Blarney powerhouses Pádraig Power, Declan Hanlon and captain Shane Barrett firing them to safety.
Conditions were difficult, but it didn’t stop CBC’s Jack Cahalane from scoring a brilliant solo goal after just three minutes. Thurles CBS recovered, needless frees conceded by CBC were arrowed over by Devon Ryan. Winning their share of the midfield battles, the Tipp side moved 0-6 to 1-1 ahead.
CBC cut the arrears to a point on two occassions. But their opponents responded through Paddy Creedon and Keith Ryan to lead 0-9 to 1-4 at the break. The difference could have been bigger, had they been more ruthless with their shooting.
CBC restarted with their second goal when Barrett made the vital breakthrough racing though the Thurles defence; that strike levelled matters. They were level twice more before the Cork side found an edge. Five points from the 49th to the 55th minute put them in control.
Devon Ryan pulled one back, his team now behind by four. There was still time for late drama as Thurles came close to goaling nearing full-time. Kieran Moloney’s effort came off the woodwork and when Eoin Purcell followed up from the rebound, goalkeeper Cian Long had to be at his best to deny him. Power then nailed his seventh free in the second minute of stoppage time. “They made us battle for every ball. We deserved to win but at the same time we rode our luck at times. There are areas we need to improve on,” added Wall.
Scorers for CBC: P Power (0-8, 0-7 frees), S Barrett (1-2), J Cahalane (1-0), D Hanlon (0-2).
Scorers for Thurles CBS: D Ryan (0-9, 0-8 frees), L Cashin (0-2), P Creedon and K Ryan (0-1 each).
CBC: C Long (Glen Rovers); C Murphy (Sarsfields), D Barry (Sarsfields), P Hennessy (Mallow); G Mulcahy (Glen Rovers), I Daly (Lismore), C O’Donovan (Douglas); D Hanlon (Blarney), K Finn (Midleton); S Barrett (Blarney, Capt), N Hartnett (Douglas), P Power (Blarney); O McCarthy (Inniscarra), P McBarron (Carrigaline), J Cahalane (St Finbarr’s).
Subs: J O’Kelly (St Finbarr’s) for P McBarron (40), C Daly (Lismore) for C O’Donovan (49), J Scally (Bishopstown) for J O’Kelly (62).
THURLES CBS: K Bracken (Thurles Sarsfields); P Melbourne (Moycarkey Borris), J Kirwan (Moycarkey Borris), J Hickey (Emeralds, Urlingford); E Morris (Holycross Ballycahill), K Hayes (Moycarkey Borris, Capt), J Ryan (Holycross Ballycahill); M Hackett (Moycarkey Borris), K Moloney (Thurles Sarsfields); K Ryan (Uperchurch Drombane), D Ryan (Knockavilla Kickhams), E Purcell (Thurles Sarsfields); P Creedon (Thurles Sarsfields), D Flood (Moycarkey Borris), L Cashin (Roscrea).
Subs: J Leamy (Golden) for D Flood (45), E Ryan (Holycross Ballycahill) for L Cashin (53), J Synott (Roscrea) for P Melbourne (55), J Taylor (Moyne Templetuohy) for P Creedon (57).
Referee: Mike Sexton (Limerick).