Wexford People

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From utter despair to unbridled joy as spirits soar again


Alan Aherne

Alan Aherne

Alan Aherne

Where would we be without sport in our lives?

A microcosm of the real thing, it regularly gives us a lift when we need it most and alternatively leaves us glum more often than we'd like.

This time last week a pall of gloom surrounded the county after the hurlers' meek capitulation to All-Ireland champions Kilkenny, but events since have left us with a renewed pep in our step and a positive outlook ahead of Saturday's qualifier clash with Cork.

That's the beauty of sport, not to mention its glorious unpredictability, being able to rise folk from the depths of despair to a sunny disposition in the space of seven days.

It was worth making the trip to Tullamore on Wednesday just to see the quality of that special goal which Cathal Dunbar finished off for the Wexford Under-21 hurlers.

Those of you who opted to stay at home had the best of both worlds as, thanks to TG4, it was transmitted into homes all over the country and was earning rave reviews on social media before the game was even over.

That set the tone for the rest of the week, and what a finish we witnessed in Innovate Wexford Park 24 hours later as the Junior footballers stole the Leinster championship crown from under Meath's noses.

The Royals had qualified for the final with a similar-type dismantling of neighbours Louth, but they were left rooted to the spot in shock after Jamie Carty's late goal gave the decent home following so much to cheer about.

They were back for more of the same 48 hours later to witness Wexford's finest showing yet since David Power took up the reins of our adult football teams.

Let's not forget that Down contested the All-Ireland Senior final as recently as 2010 when they lost to Cork, but on Saturday they were left stunned as the young and largely untested Slaneysiders displayed a zeal and determination that secured a magnificent victory.

There was a common discourse which played out since the loss to Westmeath. Those who were there, this writer included, stressed that Wexford played very well and didn't deserve to be so far in arrears at the death.

Those who stayed at home raised their eyebrows and wondered if their fellow county men and women in Mullingar were in fact being too generous to the team.

Well, they got their answer well and truly on Saturday and it was a pleasure to witness a Wexford team playing with such manic hunger, but managing to keep their composure in the process.

By that stage of the weekend, many of us were happily afflicted with a dose of Féile football fever. This was quite simply a tremendous three days for all involved, both on and off the field.

As a first-time visitor to the new Ferns Centre of Excellence on Sunday, my heart swelled with pride when I drove up the long laneway and witnessed the wonderful facility which is now at the disposal of each and every Wexford inter-county team.

I had been told it was something special but, like a lot of things in life, seeing is believing.

All those involved in the development of this centre should take a bow. It has been a long, sometimes difficult, road to get to where we are today, but I think it has been well worth it given the quality and scale of the finished product.

If you haven't paid a visit yet, I would urge you to take the spin to just outside Ferns and see it for yourself. Co. Chairman Diarmuid Devereux wants it to be a facility for everyone to enjoy and avail of, and he has extended an open invitation to members of the local community and further afield to come along and take a relaxing stroll or perhaps a more strenuous run around the fine pitches.

As for the Féile, it ran like a dream from start to finish and the local organising committee led by Marguerite Furlong deserve a debt of gratitude for their wonderful work. I'm sure they all slept soundly on Sunday night for possibly the first time in many weeks!

Now it's up to the hurlers to display the same spirit of our three winning inter-county teams and the Féile boys and girls. And I expect them to do just that and give us even more to be happy about.

Wexford People