Monday 16 September 2019

A look back at the highs and lows of Wexford's 2016

Brendan Furlong's Hop Ball

With the county season well and truly at an end, it's time to look back on the best and worst of 2016. I'll give you some awards, some wanted and others not so much.

Team of the Year - Faythe Harriers

Can any team other than the All-Ireland champions be called the team of the year?

While Oulart-the-Ballagh managed to put back-to-back county Senior hurling title, continuing their dominance of the 'small ball' game in the county, a noteworthy feat in itself, with their achievement not surprising many.

But they failed to successfully defend their provincial club title, leaving them in all their year's of dominance of the domestic senior grade, with just one provincial title to their credit.

It is always difficult to compare but that is not a road I intend travelling.

I will take a considerable drop down the grades. When you talk about team of the year, it should reflect an approach based on the team ethos, their achievement on the playing pitches, and not be deflected by side shows.

So one could not by-pass the achievement of Faythe Harriers who brought a new light to under-age hurling in the county when they lit up Tipperary in lifting the national Feile hurling title, the trophy to go alongside that of their county championship success.

The Faythe Harriers sacrificed much to bring national honour to the club, town and county, holding off the challenge of Premier Minor double winners, St. Martin's.

The greater focus would have to be given to the team that secured national success with Faythe Harriers giving hurling a much needed boost in the town.

Manager of the Year - Frank Flannery

Frank Flannery may have been hugely disappointed when Oulart-the-Ballagh failed to see off Na Piarsaigh in last year's All-Ireland club Senior hurling semi-final, losing out after extra time, but he will have to take much of the credit for the manner in which he steered the club back to the top of the domestic table this year.

Flannery would have been key in getting the players to buy into their changed attitude and deserves huge credit for the standard of hurling they served up through the county championship campaign.

He once again led his side to championship honour with his only disappointment being their failure to successfully defend their provincial crown.

He is still the clear choice for manager of the year.

Player of the Year - Lee Chin

It wasn't a vintage year for outstanding individual performances.

Normally it's the forwards who get most recognition when it comes to the Player of the Year award, but the only forward to show consistently well this year during the league and championship was Lee Chin.

The Faythe Harriers club man was caught up in many battles for both club and county with his abrasive brand of hurling catching the imagination of the public.

Chin was easly the stand out player for club. His attacking play made the headlines particularly through the Senior hurling qualifiers with a particularly outstanding display against Cork where Wexford recorded their first victory over the Rebel County since 1956.

He was also caught up in a relegation battle with his club, Faythe Harriers, and it was his outstanding display in the play-off with St. Anne's (Rathangan) that contributed so much to his side salvaging their Senior status.

No other hurler came close to having a similar positive impact on the 2016 championship.

Game of the Year - SFC Final

The best game of the championship came in the Tom Doyle Supplies Wexford Senior football championship final. The game between Gusserane O'Rahilly's and Glynn-Barntown produced an amazing finish as the Gusserane boys kicked an amazing final six points to lift the title by the narrowest of margins, grabbing the trophy from a Glynn-Barntown outfit who seemed to be coasting until those dramatic closing 10 minutes.

The game had everything, that so many during the year lacked - superb points,a titanic finish, and an intensity that lifted the crown.

Flop of the Year - Wexford footballers

One would have to look not further than the Wexford Senior footballers. Their under-achievement was such that one would have to doubt the managerial skills of the team. The one team that would have been expected to figure in the league, failed dismally to win promotion back from Division 4. But then, even more dramatically, they exited the championship race to Kildare at provincial level, and Fermanagh in the qualifiers, without as much as a real kick in their game. No obvious game plan, basic mistakes and a lack of passion evident.

Wexford People

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