The attention of Our Lady’s Templemore will now turn to Saturday, March 16th when Tom Byrnes’ men face the losers of the Leinster Colleges final in an All-Ireland quarter-final.
Indeed, Our Lady’s will hope to emulate St Joseph’s Nenagh CBS who won last year’s All-Ireland Colleges title despite losing their provincial final. However, the All-Ireland series was the very last thing on the minds of the Templemore players and management in the aftermath of Sunday’s heart-breaking defeat.
In the end Our Lady’s lost by thirteen points, but manager Tom Byrnes (ably assisted by Martin Bourke) was proud of his players.
“We had worked on it all year that no matter what the result - ten points up or ten points down - that we would stay working and I think they did that,” Tom Byrnes told the Tipperary Star.
“I think at the start of the second half that goal really killed us. That took the impetus out of it. We were happy at half-time. We were delighted to be in the position that we were in,” Byrnes revealed.
“We are fierce proud of them. When they came off the field there they can hold their heads up high. They gave it everything, but they just came up short. Dungarvan got the run on us and we couldn’t get back into it. We lost our shape a bit and I think the legs started to go from the pressure,” a bitterly disappointed Tom Byrnes explained.
Our Lady’s also lost Harty Cup finals in 2000 and 2002, but Tom Byrnes and his team are determined to come back from this defeat.
“We will come back stronger from this. The likes of John McGrath and Colin O’Riordan would get in any county team or in any Harty team. I know they over-awed us in the second half really, but for thirty minutes I suppose we didn’t score enough when we were on top and we were on top for lots of it. But that’s just the way it goes and that’s sport I suppose,” Tom Byrnes added.
When Our Lady’s last claimed the Harty Cup in 1978 Templemore recovered a nine-point deficit to claim the provincial title in most dramatic circumstances.
This time around, however, Dungarvan Colleges were not prepared to entertain the possibility of any grandstand finalés. Once the Waterford lads got moving they accelerated toward the finish line.
And, ironically enough, Dungarvan Colleges are managed by a Tipperary man.
“It’s brilliant. That will never be taken for granted by me anyway. To win two in-a-row was great. We have thirty-one fellas who gave everything during the year and I think they got their rewards there today. The lads there, it means everything to them,” Holycross native and Dungarvan Colleges manager Darragh Duggan said.
“It’s a dream come true, it’s unbelievable. For lads in Dungarvan to have two Harty Cup medals wouldn’t have been heard of ten years ago.
“We will enjoy it, the boys will behave right and they will appreciate what they have and we will thank all the people that support us. The people around Dungarvan and the schools have been brilliant and we just gave them something to shout about today,” added a delighted Duggan.
“I think they saw there at half-time that Templemore were not going to lie down,” reflected Darragh Duggan as he considered an opening half which saw the sides locked at 0-8 apiece at the break.
“I think they might have had this thing in the back of their head that they were a bit better than they were, but I think they showed in the second half exactly what they were capable of. Work rate, skill and honesty - I think that they have a bit of everything.
“We just explained to them (at half-time) that they were going to get nothing soft from Templemore and that they had to waken up,” Duggan said.
“Templemore out-smarted us in a few positions in the first half with quick line balls and quick frees and we were not taking our chances. But I think in the second half it opened up and half-time came at the right stage for us. When the game opened up in the second half I think we benefitted from that big time,” Duggan added.
Darragh Duggan’s heart also went out to the Templemore players.
Indeed, Duggan pointed out that he had great sympathy for the Our Lady’s lads.
“I would and I do, but my heart is with the Dungarvan boys,” Darragh Duggan said.
“I have been with them now for the last two years.
“Sometimes you get a reward and sometimes you don’t get the rewards, but this year and last year they are after getting exactly what they deserve.
“There might be better teams out there that we haven’t played yet, but as far as I am concerned these boys are the cream of the crop,” Duggan added.
Since Dungarvan Colleges have now won successive Dr Harty Cup finals the time may have come to review a policy which sees Dungarvan Colleges (an amalgamation of St Augustine’s College and Dungarvan CBS) compete as one in the competition. Last year Nenagh CBS were chasing a first-ever Harty Cup title, but lost the final to Dungarvan Colleges while this term Dungarvan Colleges put paid to the ambitions of both Thurles CBS (semi-final) and Our Lady’s.
Surely a case could be now made that Dungarvan CBS, for example, be requested to compete in the competition on a stand-alone basis - two weeks ago Dungarvan CBS won the Corn Pádraig Munster senior B hurling final.
It would be interesting, for instance, to see how far a combination of Nenagh CBS and Our Lady’s or a combination of Our Lady’s and Thurles CBS would go in the Harty Cup?