County on a firm footing with Ferns centre in full flow

Brendan Furlong's Hop Ball column

Published 13/10/2015 | 00:00

While there's nothing guaranteed to bring success on the inter-county fields, the official opening of the Ferns Centre of Excellence with the provision of its facilities should go a long way towards propelling the county back as a serious force on the inter-county scene.

The official opening marked four years of hard work, with the provision of four top-quality playing pitches, two fully floodlit with a third on the way, state of the art dressing-rooms, along with gymnasium and kitchen facilities and a dining area in the next phase of development which should get under way over the coming weeks.

Sunday was a very special day in the proud history of Wexford G.A.A. and one that has the potential to take Gaelic games activity in the county to the next level in terms of planning, preparation and the strategic approach to our games. All teams, from development squads, Minor, Under-21 and adult will be catered for, along with the camogie sides, which should also provide a settled platform for their future preparations in the years to come.

The realisation of this project should be a source of great pride for everyone who has been connected with, and indeed for everyone who has an interest in, our games in the county. It's a facility to compare with the best and the attention to detail that has been brought to bear on the development will ensure that our games in Wexford have been left on a secure footing for years to come.

The vision of Wexford G.A.A. Board was in keeping with the G.A.A. National Strategic Vision and Action Plan 2009-2015 which states: 'The Association is engaging in an ambitious initiative to develop a network of Centres of Excellence around the country. These centres will comprise of natural grass, synthetic playing pitches, floodlights, and ancillary facilities which will serve the needs of county teams, development squads, club, schools and colleges. These centres will encourage and facilitate increased participation and be of great benefit to the playing of our club and school games and our recreational games'.

It is intended that the Centre of Excellence will be the focal point of inter-county preparations for inter-county teams and development squad along with camogie teams' preparations.

This is a centre that will copper fasten the future of Wexford G.A.A. for years to come.

As you might expect, all eyes will be on this weekend's Tom Doyle Supplies Senior football championship final - which incidentally is on Saturday afternoon to avoid a clash with Ireland's World Cup rugby quarter-final game with Argentina.

At the start of the campaign when one was sitting down to pick out expected championship contenders, St. James' would have been rank outsiders, just promoted from Intermediate status, and never having appeared in a Senior final.

Well, they have confounded the pundits - they are there on merit and just 60 minutes away from creating their own piece of history with a first title in this grade. Even if they had planned this it could not have worked out better, with qualification from their group on a one-point scoring difference, but since then they have just moved on.

They are also seeking out hurling glory in the Intermediate 'A' grade where they are fancied by many to lift the title.

While St. James' have helped to re-shuffle the pack, St. Martin's have been there and done that, but despite past successes in both codes, history also awaits the Piercestown and Murrintown outfit.

Saturday afternoon will see them head out on a mission to achieve the first leg of the Senior double, as they are also in the Senior hurling final. The other side of the coin is that they were lucky in gaining such an easy passage through their hurling semi-final on Sunday which should help to cushion their bid for the first leg of the double.

Let's not forget two further county finals also this weekend. On Friday evening, Glynn-Barntown will be hoping not just to put the disappointment of their Senior hurling semi-final behind them, but also last year's Intermediate football final defeat to St. James'. They meet Bannow-Ballymitty, who are just down the road, in what is an intriguing decider at Taghmon.

A first since 1974 in the county Intermediate hurling final. That's the last time Naomh Eanna and Crossabeg-Ballymurn met in that decider, with Seánie Kinsella scoring the winning goal in a replay. This is the curtain-raiser at Innovate Wexford Park to the Senior football final, and a game not to be missed.

Wexford People

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