independent

Friday 31 October 2014

2012 was a year of some great memories including Ursula's goal and Billy conquering the world

Published 01/01/2013 | 10:30

AS WE look back on 2012 it has been a reasonably successful if somewhat unspectacular year for hurling on both the local and national stages.

There has been no change in the order of Senior champions in the Model County and indeed Kilkenny, despite a few setbacks and frights, recovered sufficiently by the end of September to win their sixth title in seven years.

Moving outside G.A.A. for a moment, the real highlights for me this year came in London where our Olympic and Paralympic achievements bordered on the superhuman, particularly given the achievements of our Wexford representatives, and Billy Walsh's crowning as RTE 'Manager of the Year' on Sunday night last was a fitting tribute to the county's incredible contribution to a never to be forgotten summer.

The addiction that people felt to these great events I think was magnified by London's wonderful performance in staging the competitions allied to the personal connection Wexford people felt by virtue of the fantastic local representation we had throughout both festivals.

Back home there were many memorable moments on the hurling field. Ursula Jacob's strike to seal victory in the All-Ireland camogie final was in my book the goal of the year and put a seal on a remarkable few years for the Oulart woman who has firmly established herself as one of the most valuable players on the circuit.

If Andy Carroll commanded 35 million in soccer terms, what price would you put on Ursula in an equivalent camogie world?

Other highlights from this three-in-a-row year would be Deirdre Codd's final performance, Kate Kelly's enduring brilliance and Catherine O'Loughlin's defending (ouch!!!).

I will never forget the drama of Joe Canning's last free in the drawn All-Ireland final and the coolness shown by this amateur athlete in front of 82,000 people, or the goal he scored to electrify Croke Park in the first-half.

Memorable too was the clinical way the Cats came back to restore order in late September. They will need no reminding after the Leinster final however that their young pretenders have no intention of going away.

It was great to see the Harriers rejoin the top table in Wexford led by the inspirational hurling of Richie Kehoe at centre-back, and this can only be good for hurling locally (and Liam Dunne), and the ageless 'Archie' Scallan provided the save of the year in the county final if only to see Nicky Kirwan break his heart with the rebound.

Ferns and the Shels also showed that next year's championship will be the most competitive for years, and well done to Adamstown for softening my cough throughout the year with some great performances.

Word coming out of the camp is that with some key players back next year they will be even stronger but don't worry lads, I won't curse you by starting to tip you going forward.

We are all aware now of how unpredictable sport can be, but Buffers Alley's demotion was a huge shock and showed how devastating a few bad results can be with the new championship structure.

It is not huge consolation that the relegation final proved to be the undoubted game of the year, with the Alley and Barntown providing as much excitement and passion as we have seen in a club game in Wexford for many years, with a final result that seemed unimaginable 25 minutes earlier.

It really brought us back to years gone by with a passion, commitment and crowd participation that was a credit to all concerned.

I suppose it's easy for me to say it's a pity there had to be a loser, but I am fully confident that the Alley will come back stronger whilst still realising that their new grade will be anything but a picnic.

Oylegate will be pleased with their year overall while having seen first-hand some of the blossoming talent in Crossabeg I think there is a mini-revolution under way in this hurling-mad area (watch that space). Well done also to Denny Tyrell and Ballyhogue on their success.

Seán Boylan switched codes from hurling to be a successful football manager. Could we be seeing the same process in reverse with Denny?

Wexford hurling management 2020: Denny Tyrrell, Garry Byrne and Billy Dodd - stranger things have happened.

Before signing off for the year I must comment on two things that annoyed me and they both relate to media coverage. The interpretation of Joe Canning's comments between All-Irelands was totally taken out of context and was unfair on the player himself. They were innocent enough comments but were portrayed as if the Galway man was insulting Kilkenny and particularly Henry Shefflin.

In fairness, Brian Cody and his men made no issue of the matter but in an age of constant complaints from reporters about the difficulty in getting player interviews, could Joe Canning be blamed for being guarded going forward?

Also the comments made about Lar Corbett post-Kilkenny this year were over the top and unacceptable. There is no doubt that the tactic employed by Lar on the day was bizarre but this is not a reason to disrespect any player.

None of the players receive a penny and there is no doubt that our Sundays would be fairly empty without their efforts. We shouldn't forget this.

Happy new year.

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