“‘Lone Rangers’ of High School Clonmel Seeing Progress” via Irish Times

The Tipperary school is flying the flag for the weaker counties in the Corn Uí Mhuirí, and has progressed to the knockout stages of the A competition.

High School Clonmel have been flying the flag for the weaker counties in the Corn Uí Mhuirí in recent years, and are intent on exploiting the “lone ranger” card to its fullest.

The school embarked upon a development “journey” eight years ago, with an All-Ireland B triumph in 2011 reflecting the progress which has clearly been made.

Team manager and vice-principal Tony Gleeson says he likes to think of his team as “lions in the long grass.”

With a panel encompassing students from Tipperary and Waterford, two hurling strongholds, it’s not been easy, but the school progressed to the knockout stages of the A competition for the first time this year, losing to St Brendan’s in the last eight.

“There’s been a lot of development work and a lot of coaching at all levels in the school, and with the local clubs and the county development squads,” says Gleeson.

“I’m a Meath man and I came in and seen 13 and 14-year-olds with a lot of raw talent, as good as anywhere, and people just weren’t touching it. But we worked on it.

Underage structures

“We set up underage structures and now we’re in our third year in Senior A colleges. Tipperary and Waterford are hurling counties but since we got to the Corn Uí Mhuirí, it’s been a further attraction for the school.

“We’re one of just three schools in Munster who play both codes at senior A. Remember, nearly every young lad in this county wants to play for the Tipperary minor hurlers.”

In tandem with the school’s journey, football in general in Tipperary has blossomed, likewise in local Waterford club The Nire.

In the past five years Tipperary have won an under-21 Munster title and two minor provincial titles as well as an All-Ireland. Central to those teams have been past students such as Michael Quinlivan.

Meanwhile The Nire club, just 10 miles outside of Clonmel across the Waterford border, won last year’s county championship and ran Kerry’s Austin Stacks very close in the Munster final.

A number of that panel are current students.

“I think the clubs recognise we are trying to develop squads. You need strong schools to have strong county minor teams, and I suppose we’re happy to keep the flag flying for the weaker counties.”