Thurles CBS's Joe Egan celebrates scoring a goal for the Tipperary minor hurlers. Ken Sutton/INPHO

The All-Tipperary Harty final: Thurles tradition against newcomers Cashel

A first all-Tipp final in 106 years features the county’s premier hurling school against first-time finalists, with All-Ireland winners on both sides and a Tipperary legend on the sideline

FOR THE FIRST time in the 106-year history of the TUS Dr Harty Cup, two Tipperary schools will meet in the final.

While only separated by 20 minutes of motorway, those two schools come from opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to their history of competing for the biggest prize in Munster schools hurling.

Thurles CBS are the Premier County’s premier hurling school; their eight Harty titles as many as all the rest combined.

Cashel CS are appearing in their first final, having played their hurling in the B grade until their Harty return last season.

“It’s something we’ve been dreaming of for years, playing Harty and getting to the knockout stage of it,” says Cashel manager Brendan Ryan.

“Even though we weren’t playing Harty, we were going to Harty matches in January and February every year looking in and just wishing to be part of these days.

“Unfortunately, we fell back into the B for a while then and the B is just so difficult to come out of. There’s less and less teams every year in the Harty so the B is becoming really competitive.

“You’ve Doon, Hospital, Charleville, Dungarvan CBS. These are all huge schools, these are all Harty schools, and now they’re all back in B.

“To come out of B now is a lot bigger of a challenge than it used to be.”

In 2005, the last time Cashel reached a quarter-final prior to last year, Ryan and Éamonn Buckley were in charge of the two schools, as it will be again on the sideline this Sunday. Cashel took a 1-4 to nil half-time lead that day but Thurles held them scoreless in the second half, replying with an unanswered 1-10.

For all their tradition, none of this Thurles team has experienced the build-up to a final in their time in the school but the links are there, with ’05 finalist Pádraic Maher double-jobbing on the sideline: Tipperary selector for their League opener on Saturday, Thurles CBS selector on Sunday.

padraic-maher Tipperary and Thurles CBS selector Pádraic Maher. Lorraine O'Sullivan / INPHO Lorraine O'Sullivan / INPHO / INPHO

“Pádraic said he’d come on board and then when I saw that he was getting involved with the Tipp seniors, I was dreading it. I was looking at the phone saying please don’t see his name popping up,” says Buckley with a smile.

“But in fairness to Pádraic, the first thing he said to me was: ‘If I’m getting involved here, I’m getting my hands dirty. I’m all in.’

“He was going to club matches over the summer, watching these lads playing under 17, under 19. He wanted to know their names for when he came in, in September.

“He’s just brilliant to have involved and his experience now leading up to a big game like this will be brilliant for the lads to learn off and hopefully it will benefit the whole group.”

The two teams are equipped with different strengths on the field too. 

Thurles have been electric in attack, scoring 13-98 in five games, an average of over 27 points per game. Their average winning margin has been 13 points.

Buckley, who started off with this team in first year and followed them up the grades, has fielded 29 different players during their Harty Cup run. It’s a young team by Harty standards, with five 18-year-olds and the rest of the team aged 16 or 17.

Their 3-20 to 2-7 semi-final victory over Midleton CBS surprised Buckley as much as anyone else.

“Nobody could have predicted the result.

“The thing that we forget sometimes is a lot of these lads are 16, 17 years of age. Any chap that age can have their good days and their bad days. In that last 40 minutes, everything we hit went over the bar and everything they hit didn’t.

“We couldn’t believe, in our wildest dreams, going down to Mallow and getting a result like that.

“The good thing about our forwards is it’s been different lads every day that step up to the mark. We’re getting a good spread of scores and the lads are good to give the ball. If the score is on, they’ll take the score but if the pass is on, they’ll give the pass, so that’s good to see.”

Cashel are built upon their rock-solid defence. 

Last year, they bridged a 17-year gap to return to the knockout stage. Again, Thurles were the quarter-final opposition and won by 3-16 to 0-13. Eleven of Cashel’s starting team played that day (compared to six from Thurles), including joint-captains Ronan Connolly and Ben Currivan and All-Ireland minor-winner Jack Quinlan.

In knockout hurling this year, they’ve conceded just 0-27 in two games, including a semi-final clean sheet against All-Ireland champions Ardscoil Rís.

Cashel were also boosted by another All-Ireland minor champion Adam Daly transferring from Rockwell College, where his dad is a teacher. Daly struck the 62nd-minute winner against Ardscoil to stamp their final ticket.

adam-daly-scores-the-winning-penalty Adam Daly celebrates scoring the winning penalty in Tipperary's Munster Minor Hurling final victory over Clare. Evan Treacy / INPHO Evan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

“Adam won his All-Ireland minor title and then he decided he really is determined to make it to the top with Tipp. He wanted to move in and play Harty Cup,” says Ryan.

“If we hadn’t been playing Harty Cup, maybe he’d have looked elsewhere. That’s one of the good sides of playing Harty Cup.”

There will be all sorts of family and club connections between the two teams on Sunday. Daly is among the Knockavilla Kickhams crew aiming to put goals past his clubmate and All-Ireland-winning teammate Eoin Horgan. Boherlahan-Dualla and even Cashel King Cormacs have players on both squads.

Ryan’s 16-year-old nephew Robbie, another All-Ireland-winner, is corner-forward on the Thurles team. He scored 1-5 against Midleton in the semi-final, with Jimmy Lahart (2-2), Joe Maher, and Robbie Stapleton (0-4 each) also scoring heavily.

“If we concentrate on any one Thurles player, someone else will leave us with regrets. We have to perform to the best of our ability,” says Ryan.

“This time last year, we had lost to Thurles, they beat us comfortably in a quarter-final, and Ardscoil got a good start on Thurles in a semi-final [winning by 15 points].

“There was a lot of talk then that Tipp were way behind in terms of these age groups and that we had a lot of work to do to catch up with the Corks and Limericks but James Woodlock and the lads went on to win an All-Ireland minor title, and now you have two Tipps schools in a Harty final. It’s great.

“If we don’t win on Sunday, look, there are Tipp winners and I’m sure Thurles will be the same.

“We will be doing everything we can to perform and hopefully see where that takes us but there’s going to be be young lads around Tipp that are Harty Cup champions.

“Isn’t that better than it being from Cork or Limerick?”

Get instant updates on the Allianz Football and Hurling Leagues on The42 app. Brought to you by Allianz Insurance, proud sponsors of the Allianz Leagues for over 30 years.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel