2005 was the last St Flannan’s Harty Cup victory, and the man who lifted the famed trophy that day was Inagh-Kilnamona’s Ger Arthur.
St Flannan’s had dominated the later part of the 1990’s, with titles being annexed in 1998 and 1999 before also claiming the Millennium title in 2000.
Another final defeat would follow in 2001 while the 2003 decider was only lost to St Colman’s Fermoy after a replay, with the Cork school completing their own three in a row.
Arthur, who is now based in Bahrain where he works as a teacher, recalls the 2004 win with mixed emotions.
“We played an amalgamation of Waterford colleges who were hot favourites in Cashel. I remember Danny O’Halloran getting the first ball and scoring a goal which set the tone for the match. We ended up with a comprehensive victory that day. I was pleased with my days work as I notched three points but unfortunately also ended up being stretched off as I did my medial ligament. This was a big occasion for me personally. I knew I was underage for the following two years but Flannan’s hadn’t won a Harty Cup in a few years” he said.
He was back from injury the following year and pocketed a second medal, but this time there was an added honour involved.
“For my second Harty Cup final in 2005, it was a special occasion for me personally because I got the great honour to lead St Flannan’s College out in a Munster final as James McInerney was injured and I was our vice captain. We also had four players from our own parish Inagh-Kilnamona on the squad. It was a very tough no holds barred type of game and the memory which stands out to me most was picking up the ball on the wing and soloing towards goal before being taken down. Luckily the referee allowed the play to go on and I released a handpass to Bernard Gaffney who was in full flight and finished the ball to the net” he recalled.
The current management have identified the need for consistently strong cohorts to be brought through to the top level in order to sustain an assault on silverware. Arthur says they had that base of talent ready when their shot at the big time arrived.
“We as a group of players would have had huge college success. We were very fortunate even going back to our first year in school, as you know Flannans always had two teams in the freshers hurler competition A-L and M-Z team. The aim was always to have one team in the hurling final but we both ended up in it meaning a keenly contested final which indicated we were a strong hurling year group. As it turned out the following year in the under 15 White Cup, we won that competition against Delle La Salle. That group of players also went on to win the Dean Ryan Cup beating St Colman’s College in Claughawn the following year which was again another fantastic occasion considering the history Flannan’s College had with them and would have been seen as their great rivals. It’s a strong memory of mine because it was a match in which things just clicked for us where we put them to the sword early on and we ended up comprehensively beating them. It also meant that before 2005, a lot of the group had won every Munster Colleges medals to be won. It really was a golden spell in St Flannan’s College, which is incredible how it just dried up so quickly afterwards. For me and I’m not alone in thinking this, but no one would have envisaged that happening to St Flannan’s College”.
Arthur also admits that the tales of what had gone before them were always to the fore of their minds.
“You asked about tradition and did we mention it in the dressing room about some great hurlers that had gone before us. Jamesie O’Connor used to always say to us to just stay in the game with ten minutes to go as other schools wouldn’t have had the tradition we would have and the fear factor would kick in for them. As it turned out in 2005, it was a tight tense game with a few tense moments but again with a few minutes to go, we pulled away with a few late scores and I ended up getting one myself. We were blessed to have a fantastic management team in Jamesie who won two All Irelands and he was assisted by Mr Con Woods who won 10 county finals with Newmarket. These guys were both pleasant, helpful and were great role models for any young hurlers. We had Fr Moloney looking after the spiritual side of things” he recalled.
He might be based well away from Inagh at the moment, but that St Flannan’s spirit has carried to the desert with him. He’s been impressed with the current crop, and is hopeful that gap can be bridged.
“Being an ex Flannan’s player, I’ve always watched the Harty Cup with interest as Flannan’s is a nursery for young Clare hurlers and hopefully they come through the ranks to minor, U-21 and senior level. I followed it really closely when my brother Niall was there hoping he could get a Harty Cup medal. They ended up losing two semi finals by one point. In fact, Niall didn’t win one college medal in his time at St Flannan’s. It’s amazing how it works out. In Bahrain, I have had the opportunity to watch both St Flannan’s quarter-final against Tulla and Our Lady’s Templemore with two big Limerick hurling men Ciaran Hayes and Pat Kennedy. This was made possible by the Clare Champion with live streams of both matches. I was impressed by Cian Galvin, Conor Hegarty, Ashley Brohan, Diarmuid Cahill. If these lads all stay healthy and injury free Flannan’s should have a right chance in the final. I’m looking forward to it” he said.