Victory of Faythe Harriers in Féile was very special
Published 14/01/2017 | 00:00
Looking back on 2016 for one last time, there were many highs and lows on the sporting fields both locally, nationally and internationally.
On the home front a number of special achievements spring to mind, and from a football point of view Gusserane's long-awaited return to the top table saw us witness amazing celebrations.
Their outstanding victory confirms what I have been saying for a number of years, that the local Senior football championship is really competitive and any one of seven or eight teams can win it. Nine different winners in the last ten years also confirms this theory.
The victory of the Faythe Harriers Féile team was also something really special. Having watched most of these youngsters grow up playing football and hurling together, to see them winning an All-Ireland title was an amazing achievement.
The county Senior team had a year to forget competitively, but people should remember this team is still trying to rebuild and this doesn't happen overnight.
A Leinster Junior title was the highlight of the year, with a lot of young players gaining invaluable experience at a higher level.
The appointment of Seamus McEnaney is an exciting move by the County Board, and the early indications are that the panel are impressed with the new set up.
A high-profile appointment was needed for football considering the major boost the hurling team received with the capture of the energetic Davy Fitzgerald.
Two outstanding management teams mean that Wexford supporters should have exciting times to look forward to in 2017, and the pressure is now on the players to perform.
As a keen soccer follower, the European championships held the interest for the summer, with the Irish supporters winning more trophies than our team ever will.
The fun and friendliness they bring to every country they visit would make you proud to be Irish, as they treat other teams and nations with the respect they deserve.
The highlight for me was not the first-time win by the Ronaldo-led Portugal, but the victory by Iceland over England in the last 16. It wasn't for any patriotic reason that I was so happy (well, a bit I suppose), but a country with a population of 320,000 as opposed to 65 million put a coaching plan in place a number of years ago and the system was rewarded by an historic success.
It shows what can be achieved with proper controls and implementation of the correct resources. Leicester City also proved that money can't buy titles.
A personal highlight for me was the performance of my good friend Billy Walsh as coach to the U.S.A. boxing team. Their best Olympics for years and Ireland's most disastrous international tournament for 13 years were no coincidence, despite protestations from the hierarchy of Irish boxing.
I can finally say it: they got rid of their two best assets - Gary Keegan, who devised the high performance system, and Billy Walsh who continued the amazing work they started together.
Ireland brought its strongest team ever to the Olympics and it all fell apart. While Ireland's boxing fraternity failed to appreciate his brilliance as a coach, mentor, organiser, motivator, disciplinarian, psychologist and more, the International Boxing Federation named him world coach of the year for 2016.
Thankfully for Billy's friends, family and supporters at home, a world-renowned body delivered the biggest two fingers to the I.A.B.A. It was unintentional on their part but it is how the rest of us see it.
We shouldn't worry though because one well-known person within Irish boxing famously said publicly that there are other Billy Walshes in Ireland.
It looks like Billy's trophy could be staying in this country for a few years then if that is true.