The Dr. Harty Challenge Shield
Prior to 1929, as far as can be ascertained, whereas parish and town league in hurling and football were organised in some places, no previous attempt had been made to organise juvenile games at a divisional or county level in Tipperary.
At the county convention in that year, the chairman, Rev. J. J. Meagher, announced that Dr. Harty, the Archbishop of Cashel and Emly, had given a trophy for competition in hurling among the primary schools in the county.
The next step was the setting up of a committee to draw up rules and regulations governing the playing of a primary schools’ championship for boys under fifteen years of age on January 1, 1929. A list of forty rules was agreed and adopted at the July meeting of the board.
The trophy presented by Dr. Harty was a large timber shield with a silver heart-shaped insert in the middle with the inscription: ‘For Hurling Competition Between the Primary Schools of County Tipperary’. Underneath was a further inscription: ‘Presented by His Grace, Most Rev. Dr. Harty, Archbishop of Cashel, 1928.’ Beneath the inscription is the Archbishop’s coat of arms.
The first competition was played in 1929. Affiliations were invited, and 42 teams took part. They were divided into areas and generated quite a bit of public interest, as well as receiving substantial newspaper coverage. Following the completion of the area competitions, the inter-area contests took place and four teams qualified for the semi-finals. Newport played Thurles and Killenaule played Monard, to produce a final between Thurles (Young Blues) and Killenaule (St. Mauls).
The final was played at Thurles on November 10 and resulted in an easy win for Thurles. The players received a set of medals as well as the Dr. Harty Shield and had their name inscribed on the Shield as the first winners.
After the initial enthusiasm, the competition declined and ceased about 1935. Efforts were made to revive it at the end of the decade and it eventually merged into the Bord na nÓg competition in 1943.
The Dr. Harty Shield continued to be used as the trophy for the Bord na nÓg hurling competition and was presented for the last time to Borris/Ileigh in 2003, after which it was de-commissioned and presented to Lár na Páirce museum in Thurles.