Despite working from a small population, tomorrow’s Dr Harty Cup (Munster PPS U18½AHC) final represents a second appearance in the decider in four years for Our Lady’s Secondary School, Templemore.
The Tipperary school’s clash with Ardscoil Rís in Limerick (Nenagh, 2pm) sees them striving to add to the title won in 1978 as Templemore CBS. While numbers aren’t overly plentiful, a combination of factors help them to overachieve, according to manager Tommy Byrnes.
“We’re competitive every year, especially considering the size of the school we have, there are just over 500 students and only half of those would be boys,” he says.
“We have one or two Junior Cert students and a few TYs (transition year) as well. A lot of the team would have won a Croke Cup, the U15A in Tipperary, and a Rice Cup Shield.
“They’d have a good lot won with their clubs coming up along. We have a couple of lads who’d have played in the All-Irelands last year, the minor hurling and football. They’re used to the big day so I don’t think that’ll faze them, they’re able to take everything in their stride.”
Both Templemore and Ardscoil recorded the only 100% records in the group stages of the competition, with Our Lady’s testing themselves against other contenders for the title early on.
“I wouldn’t say that we were surprised that we won all our games,” says Byrnes.
“We had to take it game by game because we had Charleville in the first match. We knew they were a good side because they won the White Cup, the U15A, a few years ago.
“It was more or less a winner-take-all game because Rochestown were very strong too and we had them in our second game.
“Once we beat Charleville, it gave us a bit of room that even if we drew with or got beaten by Rochestown we’d still be in a good position to get out of the group. Obviously, we were aiming to win every game.
“I suppose Charleville were the unlucky ones, there were three very good teams in our group whereas in all the others it might have been easier to put money down.”
It hasn’t all been plain sailing either, however. With their semi-final against Waterford’s De La Salle deep into injury time, Templemore trailed by three points before a late goal from captain Anthony Ryan secured extra-time, where they won by two.
Byrnes acknowledges that winning in such a fashion can aid confidence, but knows that a better performance will be required against Ardscoil.
“Any team that gets to a final will go in confident anyway that they’ll give it their best shot.
“I suppose we were blessed to get the draw in full-time, but we felt after the game that it should never have gone to that.
“If we had kept it tighter, we would have probably won the game anyway. We don’t really mind who’s favourite, they are and maybe it’s deservedly so. They’ve beaten top-class opposition all along and they’re very big and physical.
“They’ve a lot of hurling in them and they look good.”
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