ONE of the great stories of this year’s Masita All-Ireland Post Primary series is Christian Brothers College’s progression to the last four of the Croke Cup.
They achieved that and booked an All-Ireland Post Primary Schools senior A hurling semi-final date against Kilkenny's famous St Kieran’s College by beating Gort Community School at Kilmallock last Saturday.
“The fact that we have bounced back from losing the recent Harty Cup final is just huge,” says coach and deputy vice-principal, Donal O’Mahony.
We were down for a while after losing to Midleton in the Harty final. We tried to lift the lads, but talk is cheap. What we really needed was to go out there and hurl. Get the demons away.
A goal from Robbie Cotter six minutes after the restart of last Saturday’s Masita Croke Cup quarter-final, allied to a resolute final 30 minutes, saw them run out comfortable six-point winners in the end, 1-13-1-7.
“We just freshened it up,” O’Mahony says.
We brought in three players who didn’t start the Harty final – and we made about three more positional changes too. So, the baggage wasn’t as big as it might have been.
The fact that we were focused on playing a big gun in Gort CS – who have supplied so many brilliant Galway minors in recent seasons – really brought the nature of the challenge home to us.
But I would say that, more than anything, we just focused on finishing off chances. I felt we created lots against Midleton but didn’t take the final pass or finish them off.
We did that on Saturday. It was a tough game with the conditions, but we bounced back and that means a lot to us.
CBC bounced back from a rocky start against Gort but they have been used to lost of ups and downs during their more recent hurling activities.
Still one of the strongest rugby schools in Munster they sit proudly at joint top of the roll of honour with Munster Schools Rugby Senior Cup with 29 titles.
Against Midleton, they played their first Harty Cup final in 101 years and say they have no intention of regressing, after almost 80 years of being in hurling wilderness.
Life was breathed back into the game in the school fields around 20 years ago – and their pulse has gotten stronger every passing year.
Through the likes of O’Mahony and Tony Wall helped the school find a foothold in Lord Mayor’s Cup and in provincial ‘B’ competitions.
“We also had Dr Larry Jordan, our former principal, who is a great GAA man but he was conscious of the school he was in. He was also conscious of the environment he was in but felt there was room in in the market for another hurling school in Cork City. Farranferris was closed, and the North Monastery, which was another powerhouse of Harty hurling, wasn’t as strong,” O’Mahony says.
“We have a good spread of clubs – 10 were represented in the starting 15 in Munster and the idea is hat fellas come here, play Harty Cup and go back to their clubs as better players. They are going to Limerick, Tipperary and Waterford playing the best teams.
“We don’t have any hurlers playing rugby at senior level because it is too challenging. But we have enough students in the school to be able to compete in both codes.
“We came from winning Under 16 ‘B’ competitions to losing two Harty quarter-finals (2016 & 2017) and a semi-final (2018) before getting to the final. We have made progress all the way.
“The great thing is that the road has been paved now and lads ate coming in and driving the game on.
“It was difficult at the start playing traditional schools — Thurles, St, Colman’s, Nenagh CBS – we played them all this year and now it’s St Kieran's in the semi-final but that’s what lads want – to be challenged. To play the best.”
CBC’s first significant breakthrough came in 2015 when they won the Cork Colleges U14A title. The following year they re-entered the Harty and their win against CBS High School Clonmel soon after was their first in the competition in 97 years.
This season players like Iarlaith Daly, Cillian O’Donovan, Declan Hanlon, Kevin Finn, Shane Barrett, Pádraig Power and Jack Cahalane have really caught the eye.
And while the semi-final opposition is the stiffest you could get, they’re not finished yet.
“We played Kieran’s at Christmas time in a challenge and came within five or six points,” O’Mahony says. “So while we’re up against it, we have been pretty much up against it all year long.”
Recently, the school hosted an event titled ‘The Road to Success’ in aid of the CBC Zambia Immersion Project and the event was attended by John Meyler, John Kiely and Derek McGrath.
It was a fitting title for the night’s chat. For CBC are well along that road.