Tuesday 16 July 2019

History beckons!

Naomh Eanna hurlers hope to bring senior county title home for the very first time

Adele Rapple and her daughter Jodi
Adele Rapple and her daughter Jodi
Naomh Eanna supporters Larry Cullen with, Ruby, Ciaran and Abby O’Brien, Gary O’Brien, Carol Cullen, Larry Cullen (junior) and Michael Dwyer, club PRO, pictured beside the ‘Green Machine’

Brendan Keane

There is massive excitement building around Gorey as the Naomh Eanna GAA club hopes to create history this coming weekend by bringing the Wexford Senior hurling club title home for the very first time.

The bunting is out, businesses are decorated in green and white, and 'good luck' posters can be seen everywhere from shops to crossroads.

The club Chairperson, Nicky Stafford, said getting to the final is a major achievement in itself and that no-one in the club is under any illusion as to the massive task ahead when the team goes out against St Martin's in the final on October 21.

'The Martins have set the benchmark that every other clubs aspires to reach now,' he said.

'They will be very tough opposition and we're fully aware of the job that needs to be done but then again we've got a great squad of players here too,' he added.

Mr Stafford praised the work of the underage section of the club, particularly over the last 10 to 15 years, and said hard work and commitment from trainers back then is beginning to pay dividends now.

'The senior squad has a brilliant team behind them and they're great trainers but credit goes as well to the lads who helped develop the underage section of the club over 10 years ago because that's starting to pay off now,' he said.

The senior team is comprised mostly of players in their early 20s and that's something that Mr Stafford hopes will pay off not just at the weekend but also going forward.

'It's a very young team really and they're a committed bunch of players,' he said.

'We've also got a big panel and lads have to work very hard to keep their place and that's good because it keeps it competitive and that spills over onto the pitch,' he added.

'We've been working on this for a long time and at the end of the day, the same as everyone else, the priority for us is to make our club the best it can be.'

Regardless of the outcome of next weekend's final Mr Stafford said the team will go to a hotel afterwards for a meal before making their way back to the club grounds.

Along the way they will travel down the main street and if the result goes the right way that's a journey that might take a long time to complete.

'We know we're going to have great support there and the feedback from people has been fantastic but if the lads can pull it off it will mean so much to this club,' said Mr Stafford.

He also said that being in the final has already raised the profile of the club.

'Obviously, it's not something we're used to and just getting to the final has shown us how much it means to people and how much it's raised the club's profile,' he said.

Next year Naomh Eanna will celebrate its 50th anniversary and what better way to begin that year than being senior county champions.

The fact the club's footballers also clinched the intermediate county title has also spurred on the hurlers as they endeavour to repeat that success.

'If they win and we achieve the double it would be just unbelievable,' said Ms Stafford.

While the club is working hard at keeping the players' feet firmly on the ground there is no getting away from the fact that by the time the final whistle blows next Sunday history might have been created.

It's a fact that hasn't gone unnoticed by Mr Stafford: 'It's the stuff you dream about but these are great lads and they'll be giving it their best shot; we've been waiting for this day for a very long time.'

Gorey Guardian