Friday 20 September 2019

Are we worried by poor club results outside county?

Alan Aherne
Alan Aherne

On the Line with Alan Aherne

Sunday's outcome in Portlaoise, while warmly welcomed by neutrals, completed what was probably the most dismal year ever for Wexford clubs in provincial competitions.

Cuala's impressive victory over O'Loughlin Gaels means that in all three cases, the side which knocked our county hurling champions out of Leinster action went on to lose themselves in the next round.

Oulart-The Ballagh had come a cropper against the Kilkenny city outfit in the Senior semi-final, while Oylegate-Glenbrien were hammered by Kiltale who in turn failed in the penultimate round to Carrickshock.

Incidentally, the Noresiders went on to break the hearts of Rathnure's Seamus Murphy and his Celbridge crew in Saturday's Intermediate final, inflicting a third defeat at that stage on the Kildare Senior champions with a last-gasp goal.

The news was no less encouraging in the Leinster Junior competition as St. Oliver Plunkett's from Westmeath conquered St. James' but then went down to Mooncoin who also followed up with provincial honours against Ratoath from Meath over the weekend.

I concentrated almost exclusively on the football situation when I previously visited this topic some weeks ago, but hurling doesn't paint a particularly bright picture either.

I should stress at this point that Oulart-The Ballagh represent a beacon of light in what has otherwise been a wilderness since Rathnure and Buffers Alley were well able to hold their own inside and outside the province during the 1970s and 1980s.

While this year didn't go according to plan for the county kingpins, they have still set standards that no other club in Wexford can match.

Looking below the Senior grade, we have an absolutely terrible record in Leinster. Just five clubs have contested provincial Intermediate finals since the grade was introduced in 2004, but that's a little misleading because only the Wexford and Kilkenny winners were eligible to compete in the first two years until the Senior victors from the second-tier counties were added.

Thus, St. Patrick's and Marshalstown-Castledockrell suffered heavy defeats in the one-off deciders of 2004 and 2005 to Carrickshock and Dicksboro from Kilkenny respectively.

Ferns St. Aidan's gave it a good rattle in 2007 but ultimately came up short against Clonkill of Westmeath by 1-15 to 3-7. Four years ago Oylegate-Glenbrien were destroyed by Clara of Kilkenny (3-20 to 0-5), while Buffers Alley did run The Rower-Inistioge very close in 2013 (1-9 to 0-10).

We are still waiting for our first winner, while the situation is even bleaker at Junior level with just one final appearance so far when Clongeen went down to Tullogher-Rosbercon in 2008 by 1-18 to 3-7.

In my last look at the provincial football results I concentrated on the details from the Intermediate and Junior grades since 2012 when the manner of our representation was changed after the arrival of Intermediate 'A' to our own domestic programme of games.

That first year saw St. Fintan's run Castleknock to five points in the Junior decider, and they remain one of just two football clubs in the county to contest a Leinster final.

Indeed, they are the only one to do it twice as they also lost the 1999 Junior decider to Clara from Offaly by a point in just the fourth year of what was then merely a tournament.

It only gained full championship status in 2003, and that was the season when Kilmore went all the way to the decider before losing on home soil to Wolfe Tones of Kilberry in Meath by 1-10 to 0-6.

Are we worried by our generally very poor results though? Not to the extent we should be in my view if the lack of debate on the matter at County Board level is anything to go by.

Finally this week, I focused entirely on the Railway Cup competitions which began in 1927 when looking at Dermot Kavanagh's new book in the last edition.

In answer to a query, I can confirm that the Railway Shield which ran from 1905 to 1908 is also featured briefly in the first chapter.

The main Wexford hero from that era was Mick Cummins from Ballymurn who had the distinction of being the first man to win hurling and football titles on the same day in the inaugural year of the competition. He added an All-Ireland Senior hurling medal in 1910.

Wexford People