Cullen: This breakthrough will do wonders for our club
“I THOUGHT we were never going to break that stone,” Eddie Cullen sighed as he embraced Ferns St. Aidan’s breakthrough Senior hurling title triumph on Sunday.
The awesome attacker had been at the heart of pushing the red and whites towards reaching for the stars during his distinguished playing days.
And although his time on the pitch expired, he confessed to having “hit every ball in the stand with them” on Sunday, saying he just felt something special had been brewing.
“There is just something about the team this year that in every match when their backs were to the wall, they kept trying, especially the older lads.
“Look at Jonny Dwyer today putting a sideline over with a minute to go and it ended up being the winning score! It is a dream year for the club.
“The effort being put in every year from Under-6s up – everyone is getting just rewards now.
“Every youngster of eight, nine or ten years old can now see what can be achieved if they put the effort in.”
Eddie had grown particularly excited for Ferns’ Senior title potential some 20 years back when several of the current group brought the club to the fore in under-age during the 2000s.
“Jonny Dwyer, Tommy (Dwyer), ‘Bitzy’ (Christopher O’Connor)… all of them have won every medal up along at Premier grade, Minor, Under-21, Intermediate and now Senior. There are not many in the county that can say they have that collection,” he pointed out.
“They made the breakthrough at Minor and we knew we had a really special team then. I was 28 or 29 and I was wishing I had been 15 years younger,” he smiled.
“But they broke the mould, winning the Premier grades, and we managed to keep them together. We got to the Senior final in 2013 and gave ourselves every chance in that game.
“This breakthrough will do wonders for our club. The red and white flag is flying high now.”
Joe Morris and Pádraig Bailey were among the selectors who poured their heart and soul into trying to elevate Ferns to Dr. R.J. Bowe Cup champion status, and both were just trying to soak it in during the moments after the jigsaw was finally completed on Sunday.
A “very emotional” Joe had some deceased members, most notably the recently departed Tom Guinan and Jack Byrne, to the fore in his thoughts.
“And Dominic Murphy in the nursing home – they’re the people I think of,” declared the father of star player Paul.
“These current players deserve centre-stage now. But I never forget all the people that put the shoulder to the wheel – they are the ones that laid the foundations for this,” Joe highlighted.
Pádraig, father of sadly injured Gavin, suggested that Ferns “had a little bit more hunger because we needed this so badly.
“We have broken the back on this now. It is a privilege to win the county championship in Wexford and it has never been done by any group of players in Ferns before. So history is made today and it is fantastic.”
Glynn-Barntown stalwart John Barron was at the helm when Ferns got back to the Senior showpiece in 2013 after a wait which had stretched back to 1969.
“We gave Oulart an eight-point lead in that final but came back to be right in it to the very end,” John recalled.
“The following year I thought we would have won it, but we didn’t play well enough in the semi-final against the Shels.
“That was the end of my time there, but I really enjoyed it up there. They are a lovely bunch of fellas. A lovely club.
“Fair play to St. Martin’s - a young team and they were very unlucky not to get something out of it in the end.
“But it was Ferns’ day, and they deserve it.”