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St Joseph's Tulla manager Terence Fahy: The strength of our team is that it’s a collective. Photograph by John Kelly

Clare school fired up for shot at Harty Cup final

When it comes to Harty Cup, more than talent is needed to get a team over the line, writes Ivan Smyth, and St Joseph’s Tulla have shown they possess that extra ingredient needed to progress deep in the competition.

Their resolve in getting to this stage has been admirable having overcome St. Colman’s College Fermoy in extra time to secure their first ever Harty Cup win before backing it up when beating Christian Brothers College (CBC) Cork after trailing by seven points at half time.

Terence Fahy, who presides over the team alongside Tomás Kelly (Inagh-Kilnamona) and Aidan Harte (Gort), acknowledges that his side have shown their grit to battle through two tough encounters after losing their first game to this Saturday’s opponents De La Salle College.

“We were backed in to a corner against Fermoy but the guys showed great resolve to come back at the death to earn extra time and then get over the line. Then in the quarter final we had to come from behind again but the lads have a taste for it now. There is a lot of grit in this side.”

“The strength of our team is that it’s a collective. There is great leadership in the group. We have 12 Leaving Certs on the team which is unheard of. We have guys playing adult club. They have loads of quality and we are lucky to have them. They have great resilience and school spirit. We want to drive it on now the next day.”

Although they went in search of their first Harty Cup win this season, Fahy believes this group’s success in underage competitions helped them to garner the belief needed to reach the last four of the competition.

“This group have been very successful in first year and B competitions. With Transition Year, fifth year and sixth year, we have had three years together. Our aim was to win a Harty match and when we did that then we quickly refocused. We have taken it one step at a time.”

The Whitegate clubman knows how important hurling is for the people of East Clare especially with the pandemic continue to dominate column inches and the general discourse among the public.

The school’s supporters certainly made themselves heard against CBC with their side duly reeling in their half time deficit before Dara Ryan’s late goal sent supporters in to a frenzy.

“Tulla and even East Clare in general would have fanatical hurling people. They love following their team whether it be school, club or county. We hope to stay going and give them something to cheer about at the weekend.”

With Conor O’Donnell (calf) their only injury concern heading in to the weekend, the East Clare side are well placed to challenge for an inaugural final spot.

The Clare U20 manager states the school strike the right balance between training for this competition and also helping the students to manage their workload. He believes that exercise is vital for any student to help alleviate the pressures of the Leaving Cert.

“It’s about priority management. People in elite settings have to make sacrifices. I was in the CBC and Colman’s dressing rooms where there was devastation and juggling time is a problem they would love to have this week. We are happy we have a balance.”

“There are 168 hours in a week and we engage them for approximately six in a healthy, outdoor activity which is critical to any balanced Leaving Cert student’s week. All studies show that high achievers in the Leaving Cert are often top class sportspeople because they are disciplined, committed and driven.”

Nine of the De La Salle team that started their 4-13 to 0-16 win against Nenagh CBS were part of the Waterford minor panel that reached last year’s Munster final against eventual All Ireland champions Cork.

Patrick Fitzgerald is their star man as he struck 1-11 in the quarter final win while his accurate free taking was instrumental in them overcoming St. Josephs in the opening round.

Fahy knows that his side cannot afford to solely focus on Fitzgerald as he admits that this encounter could be a tight and tense affair especially with both teams familiar with how the other plays after their opening round tussle.

“This is the last four of the Harty Cup. It’s all about the performance of the players on the day. There is very little between what we do and what they do. Like ourselves De La Salle’s strength is their collective. They have about 1,400 boys in their school and have lads from Ballygunner and all the top clubs in Waterford.”

“They will always be there or thereabouts. We have adapted to the standard needed for Harty Cup. We have improved but so have they. There are two even teams who will be doing everything they can to come out on top this weekend.”

“If we get the performance we want then we will walk off the field proud regardless of the result. It should be a great contest.”

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