The Harty Cup has been competed for since 1918 so it’s hardly a surprise that there have been eight one-county derby finals.
The first was in 1936 when North Mon beat Coláiste na Mumhan of Mallow 4-3 to 2-6 and the last was in 1994 when the famed Mon was again triumphant, this time against Midleton CBS, 1-9 to 0-4.
In fact of those eight previous occasions the famed northside Cork city school were involved on five occasions and won each one. Other same-county derbies saw St Finbarr’s (Cork) beat Coláiste Chríost Rí (1969), while the other two occasions involved Clare schools when Rice College beat their more renowned Ennis schoolmates St Flannan’s in 1962, and Flannan’s themselves then overcame newcomers Shannon Comprehensive in 1989 (0-9 to 0-5). Which brings us to today, the Gaelic Grounds, and recent Limerick city powerhouse Árdscoil Rís against Scoil Na Troinóide Naofa from Doon. With Limerick minors paving the way in Munster for their senior counterparts last year and being unlucky in their All-Ireland semi-final loss to Galway when a perfectly good point was disallowed by Hawk-Eye, is it a sign of the upsurge in underage hurling in the county?
Certainly Doon manager Diarmuid Carr seems to think so.
“There’s no doubt about it and at school’s level Árdscoil Rís are the benchmark and have been for the last number of years [Harty Cup winners in 2010 and ’11],” he said.
“Huge credit too though has to go to the clubs. They’re putting in an enormous effort. I see that myself with the clubs around here. The Munster final win was a huge boost, beating Waterford in a replay, but even the semi-final win over Tipperary, that was a massive.
“I’m probably biased [as a member of the Golden-Kilfeacle club across the border] but I’ve often felt that Limerick have felt inferior to Tipperary. It was a monkey they needed to get off their backs and credit to them. They put in the work at underage, got a system, and it has paid off.
“They’ve developed a lovely style of hurling and I see it in the lads here. They go into development panels at 15 and 16 come back not just physically developed but more mature in their attitude, in their hurling. The way they look at the game... they have a very mature outlook.
“When we get them in for a team talk a lot of the time we don’t have to say anything they’re actually saying everything we were going to say. It’s a fantastic thing to see in lads of 16, 17, 18 that they’re looking at a game with that kind of maturity and objectivity.”
As with Árdscoil Rís, Doon draws many of its students from across the border. It’s Clare in the case of Árdscoil but Tipperary for Doon. In fact when Limerick and Tipperary met in that Munster semi-final last year each side was captained by a student from Doon CBS, Richie English for Limerick and Tom Fox for Tipperary.
“We have players from Pallasgreen, Cappamore, Murroe-Boher, one guy from Caherline, a small club,” Carr said.
“From Tipperary we get players from Cappawhite, Annacarty and Seán Treacy’s, a good mix. Most of it though is driven by the lads from Doon. Over the years we’ve been blessed in the school with fellas Richie English, Dean Coleman, Darragh O’Donovan, Pat Ryan and them. Fantastic lads who came up through the Doon ranks.
“From Pallasgreen we had goalkeeper Colin Ryan, from Annacarty we had Tom Fox, Seán Ryan from Cappawhite. In the last two or three years it’s really gone up a notch, the hurling in the school. We won the Corn Pádraig three years ago against a very fancied Dungarvan team, then said we’d go back up to Harty Cup and see how we’d get on. Got a very heavy defeat against Árdscoil Rís last year in the quarter-final in Bruff with a lot of these lads but said we’d give it another go this year.
“We’re blessed with the run we got and avoided all the so-called big guns. Having said that, both Charleville and Rochestown provided very good opposition in the quarter-final and semi-final. It’s probably unique in terms of that, that all the big guns ended up one side and knocked each other out.
“And that’s what we’ve said to these guys – take this opportunity. Obviously we need things to go our way and these things happen.
“You hope for a day like that because they do happen just for the boys more than anything.
“Our mantra all year has been that it’s their team, their time, their chance. A lot of them are in sixth year and won’t hurl for the school again. We’ll [teachers] be there again and again, this is their opportunity, it’s up to them to seize it. They’ve really bought into that, taken ownership and come off the field with no regrets. That’s our aim, that they do themselves justice, because they deserve that at least.”
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