Wexford wrapped its arms around rest of the country
Published 30/06/2015 | 00:00
If Carlsberg did weekends, they would have a tough job matching the one just passed for G.A.A. people in Wexford.
Admittedly it was a long weekend as it began on Wednesday evening with another impressive performance by the Under-21 hurlers, who are well on the way to clinching a magical three-in-a-row titles. They even managed to conjure up a superb goal which highlighted the amazing skills of some of these young Wexford men.
Next up was the Leinster final on Thursday at home for the Junior team against Meath. For once Wexford were the ones scoring a last-gasp goal in injury time to snatch a famous win. If anyone doubted the significance of this win, all they had to do was listen to captain Anthony Masterson's acceptance speech.
Someone who has played at such a high level for so long, he was the proudest man in Innovate Wexford Park last Thursday night. The win created a feel-good factor and generated an air of optimism for the Senior clash with Down.
On Friday there began an invasion of buses and cars which descended on county Wexford for the Féile festival of football. As I drove around parts of the county on Friday for work, it was wonderful to see the effort that every club had put in to have their facilities in the most pristine condition possible.
As Jim Doyle in Rosslare said to me, every club got jobs done that were on the to-do list for the last three years. It wasn't a case of one club trying to outdo the other; it was just about making people welcome and allowing them to use our facilities to help make an enjoyable weekend.
The amount of volunteers needed to run the whole operation is unbelievable. A stranger visiting Wexford that had no idea Féile was taking place would have assumed it was the All-Ireland sandwich-making competition.
I'd like to think I speak for every clubperson with regard to their own club, when I say that I was so proud of all of the people in my own club for the unbelievable hard work they put in over the last few weeks and especially last weekend.
Every input is greatly appreciated and helped make the weekend an outstanding success. Every club deserves a big pat on the back. The scale of the operation is amazing but the thing not to forget it that it is all voluntary. We had stewards, referees, co-ordinators, cooks, cleaners and importantly host families who opened their homes to the visiting thousands of players.
The best way of describing it is that the county of Wexford opened its arms and wrapped them around the rest of the country to welcome them and care for them for the weekend. All the hard work and all the friendship shown didn't solely make me proud to be a clubman or a G.A.A. man; it made me proud to be a Wexford man.
No matter what the competition, Wexford always has a great welcome for its visitors. As Billy Walsh always says when he returns from his travels, it is the best little county in Ireland.
On then to Saturday to cap off a great weekend where 7/2 outsiders Wexford beat Down in an outstanding game of football. The fitness levels of all county teams at the moment are just unbelievable and both sets of players worked their socks off in warm, humid conditions.
When I played the only time a full-back (or a corner-forward) passed the 40m line was walking on at the start and walking off at the end of the half. Now we have them scoring goals!
All of the Wexford players were outstanding but Brian Malone was my man of the match, closely followed by the returning Graeme Molloy. His fair but shuddering tackle on Conor Laverty and a marvellous first-half point were vital contributions.
The significance of the performance was not lost on the Wexford supporters who really got behind the team, and a large crowd even stayed behind for 20 minutes to applaud the team off after their warm down. It was just a marvellous end to a great weekend.