Tuesday 23 January 2018

Wexford links as Fullen seek glory

A WEXFORD side won't be featuring in next weekend's programme of All-Ireland Club finals in Croke Park, but there will be a strong Slaneyside interest all the same in the Junior hurling decider between Fullen Gaels of Manchester and hot favourites Thomastown from Kilkenny.

The Lancashire side will include Simon Wallace, formerly of the St. James' club, in their ranks at left half-forward, while Joe Sheehan from Clonard will be among the substitutes. And there is another Ramsgrange link to the team as they are trained by Mark Molloy who is ineligible to play as he already assisted his native club in the 2012 championships.

Wexford is just one of several counties represented on the exiles' line-up, with all four provinces featuring as players from Kildare, Donegal, Galway and Waterford will also contest the final.

Fullen Gaels initially won the All-Britain title at the expense of Fulham Irish (0-16 to 2-7) before recording a 0-17 to 0-12 extra-time win over Connacht champions Calry St. Joseph's of Sligo in the All-Ireland quarter-final in Birmingham. And they returned to their native shore once again on Sunday week last to defeat Bredagh from Down, winners of the Ulster title, in the penultimate round in the Parnells club grounds in Coolock, Co. Dublin, by 1-12 to 1-4 with Simon Wallace contributing a point.

The club is only in existence since 2005 and has contested the last three All-Ireland Junior Club semi-finals, but this is their first time to make it to Croke Park. They are without doubt the smallest club ever to feature on the big stage with a total membership of approximately 40 including their 28-strong playing panel.

The club is Manchester-based, but the players are drawn from all over the north-west of England. They actually compete in the Warwickshire Senior hurling championship as opposed to Lancashire which involves a round trip of 190 miles to play their games. A camogie section was formed in 2011 within this progressive club which will fly the flag for our exiles along with St. Gabriel's of London who will take on another Kilkenny outfit, Clara, in the Intermediate final on the same double-header.

Oylegate-Glenbrien and Naomh Eanna lost heavily to Clara and Thomastown respectively in their Leinster campaigns, and it will be a huge shock should either fall at the last hurdle. Nonetheless, the romance of sport is reflected in the presence of Fullen Gaels and St. Gabriel's in Croke Park on Sunday next.

New Ross Standard

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