THE GAA gods haven’t smiled kindly on Hamilton High School, Bandon, as they will take on Limerick school Ardscoil Ris in the Harty Cup for the fourth time in three seasons.
The 2015/16 Harty Cup gets underway this Wednesday (October 14th), and Hamilton High’s first Group A match is in Mallow (1.30pm) against Ardscoil Ris, who have beaten the West Cork side in their previous three meetings – twice in 2013/14 including the competition’s semi-final, as well as in last year’s quarter-final.
It’s asking a lot for the Bandon school to pull off a surprise win and manager Aidan O’Donoghue (Kilbrittain) admitted that ‘it’s as tough as you can get’.
Ardscoil Ris have won three of the last six Harty Cups, and in last season’s quarter-final they beat Hamilton High 1-16 to 1-11, which was a lot closer than the semi-final meeting the previous year that the Limerick team won 2-14 to 1-4.
Hamilton High have five survivors from last year’s starting 15 in the quarter-final still eligible this season with goalkeeper Cathal Dart-O’Flynn, William Hurley (Valley Rovers), Joe O’Mahony (Bandon), James Kelleher (Newcestown) and Colm Dineen (Newcestown) all still involved, as is Cathal Maguire (Courcey Rovers), who came on as a sub that day in Charleville.
Also in Group A are De La Salle Waterford, Blackwater Colleges and Midleton CBS so Hamilton High have four group games to look forward to, if they want to qualify for the knock-out stages for the third successive season.
‘We will take it game by game and see where that takes us. We need two wins in the group but it will be very tough because we are a small school trying to compete with, for example, a school with the hurling resources that Ardscoil Ris have,’ O’Donoghue said.
Joining O’Donoghue’s management team are Rob Honohan (Bishopstown), former Hammies hurler and Cork underage star Michael Cahalane, as well as Jack Meade (Newcestown).
Hamilton High play De La Salle Waterford on November 4th, Midleton CBS on November 18th and Blackwater Colleges on December 2nd.
In the 2013/14 season Hamilton High became the first West Cork team to reach the last-four of the competition, before losing to, you guessed it, Ardscoil Ris in the penultimate stage.
Group A: Ardscoil Ris, Hamilton High School Bandon, De La Salle Waterford, Blackwater Colleges, Midleton CBS.
Group B: Rochestown College, Youghal, Charleville CBS, Templemore CBS, Gael Cholaiste Mhuire AG.
Group C: Thurles CBS, St Colmans, Fermoy, Nenagh CBS, Scoil na Trionaide Doon.
Group D: Castletroy College, St Flannans, Ennis CBS, High School Clonmel.