Saturday 20 January 2018

Passion and pride returns in spades

IT WAS a marvellous sporting weekend for Wexford hurling and football supporters.

It may have been all about the numbers game in the minutes leading up to the Wexford v. Dublin Leinster Senior hurling quarter-final game, but what eventually happened on the pitch was what Model county supporters went home talking about.

Maybe some day Wexford and other counties, Ger Loughnane included, will learn the value of match day programmes.

But on a splendid sunny Saturday evening in Wexford Park this game brought back memories of the passion and pride that goes side by side with Wexford hurling.

We can recall great clashes between these two counties going back to the sixties when Dublin and the Boothman brothers sprung a major surprise in Nowlan Park.

That was in 1961 when Wexford were reigning All-Ireland champions and the Dubs went on to lose to Tipperary by a point on their last final appearance.

This time it was the turn of Wexford who just failed to turn over the hottest of pre-match favourites.

But think again. Wexford rose to the challenge, having been written out of the equation by the national media, and with five minutes remaining actually led by three points.

What this game typified is that Liam Dunne is moulding a young side, with a degree of experienced players, and what we saw on Saturday evening is what Wexford hurling is all about: pride, passion, and no little skill.

The greatest praise of all must go to the backroom team who got their team back on track after that league mauling at the hands of the opposition.

Having witnessed many of the training sessions, the organisation of the backroom is professional, while the effort from players in those training sessions surpasses even those of professional sportspeople in other codes.

The management had learned, and the players had learned. This is a massive boost for Wexford hurling. People in Wexford will once again begin to talk about hurling.

There was a great atmosphere in Wexford Park where home followers dominated the 7,500 attendance. It was especially enlightening to see the smiles back on the faces of Wexford supporters.

I suppose it will be said that one swallow does not make a summer. But for Wexford this is a major step forward. Now it's on to the replay in Parnell Park this Saturday evening.


Dublin will not have liked what they came up against in Wexford Park. They are a rattled side which failed to deliver on the big stage, not for the first time. Wexford players must now realise they are capable of taking their scalp even in Parnell Park.

While still on the hurling game, great credit is due to County Development Officer, Ger Carthy, and his committee for the excellent playing surface presented in Wexford Park.

Also the stadium looked super going out live on TV. Credit also to County P.R.O. Rory Murphy for the excellent press facilities, with wi-fi available to go along with the tea, coffee and sandwiches. It was a great evening all round for Wexford G.A.A.

In Drogheda, Wexford Senior footballers put in a marvellous display to see off Louth in their provincial quarter-final.

It was a first championship victory for manager Aidan O'Brien, setting up a semi-final clash with the winners of Meath and Wicklow.

This is a massive boost for Wexford as Louth, who had dismissed Laois with ease, were warm favourites, but not for the first time the footballers have delivered as underdogs.

Now they can look forward to the semi-final with a degree of confidence.

New Ross Standard

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