Friday 19 January 2018

Great pride in being part of the greatest show on the planet

THIS WEEK sees the beginning of the greatest show on earth, the Olympic Games in London. Four years of planning and preparation for some and a lifetime of hard work and dreaming for others will all be condensed into a three-week extravaganza of sporting action.

Wexford will be represented by Gráinne Murphy in swimming and Adam Nolan and Billy Walsh in boxing. Gráinne and Adam are involved in two of the most demanding individual sports of all. They have qualified due to their exceptional levels of commitment, a neversay-die attitude, an unbelievable work ethic and of course an exceptionally high level of skill.

These values are what make them stand out from the crowd and enable them to perform at world class level. Since Gráinne qualified last December she has quietly prepared for her Olympic debut and the 19-year-old from Ballinaboola will not be out of place on the big stage.

Adam has been part of the high profile boxing team since he won the Irish championships in late February. Unfortunately for the Wexford man there is an unprecedented level of expectation surrounding every member of the team. This is due to the fantastic medal haul the team has brought back from every major tournament dating back to the last Olympics in Bejing.

Irish boxers are now feared and respected by every other nation in the world, and are no longer underestimated. The team has been training in Italy for the last ten days to take them away from all the hype and interference from outside sources, and according to their coach all boxers are heading to London in peak condition.

Another young man from Wexford was called in to help with the preparations for the tournament. Dean Walsh, son of Donal and Kathleen and Billy's nephew, was specially invited by Pete and Katie Taylor to spar with our brilliant gold medal hope. It was a great experience for the young talented boxer, and Billy assured me that he asked Katie not to hurt him too much. Apparently Dean's talents as a comedian and entertainer also helped morale in the camp.

It is a fantastic honour for our county and I am sure every sports fan in Wexford would like to wish all of the Wexford participants the very best of luck, and hope that they will perform to the maximum of their ability. It will be a particularly proud time for the members of the G.A.A. clubs Sarsfields, Faythe Harriers, Oulart-The Ballagh and Rathgarogue-Cushinstown as we watch our club members represent us on the world stage.

On the football front two provincial finals were decided over the weekend when Donegal overpowered Down and Dublin deservedly beat Meath. The most impressive performance was from Donegal, although the first-half football was terrible to watch.

It was so bad 'Sack' Walsh rang me at half-time to say he was going to turn it off and watch the Eastenders omnibus (he always watches it anyway). The secondhalf was more enjoyable to watch as Donegal manufactured some brilliant scores as they signalled their intent that they are not going to be satisfied with an Ulster title.

A rejuvenated Kerry team gave their modern day rivals Tyrone a roasting, just to remind the others that they haven't gone away. While the display was impressive you have to remember the beating Dublin gave the same opposition last year, and since then Tyrone have lost some quality players.

It seems ironic that Kerry have been instrumental in the destruction of the great Tyrone team of the last ten years, given the difficulties they had in beating them up to now. It was sweet revenge for the Kerry men and it showed in their reactions afterwards.

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