independent

Sunday 27 May 2018

Very special night in store for Anne's with history launch

On the Line with Alan Aherne

Alan Aherne
Alan Aherne

There's no shortage of onfield action to keep everyone occupied at present, but an event of equal importance will take place in a G.A.A. clubhouse on Saturday night.

It is expected to be standing room only at the St. Anne's base in Rathangan at 8 p.m., with a big crowd sure to gather for the launch of their impressive 520-page club history.

The Trojan work of former County Board and Leinster Council Chairman, Jim Berry, will come to fruition, and he deserves immense credit for his diligence in chronicling the history of Gaelic games in the parish of Rathangan.

The book is titled 'October 2000', a reference to the greatest month ever for the Wexford District stronghold when they pulled off the amazing feat of capturing both Senior championship titles with practically the same group of players.

A full squad photograph of that wonderful double-winning crew adorns the front cover of this excellent publication, and it is only fitting that they take pride of place.

However, there is so much more involved in the history of the games in Rathangan, Baldwinstown, Cleariestown and Duncormick, with the story told with passion and pride by a man whose love for the club shines through from start to finish.

It is entirely fitting that Jim has dedicated the book to his late, great brother, Jack, one of Wexford's All-Ireland heroes in 1968.

I hadn't the pleasure of seeing that outstanding dual player in his prime, but I think it's fair to say that St. Anne's never produced somebody with such natural talent either before or since.

I have a clear recollection of attending a Junior hurling game in Piercestown with my father when I was in my pre-teen years.

It was in the early 1980s, and St. Anne's were playing Faythe Harriers. Jack was in the veteran stage, but he still carried a special aura and his ability was crystal clear to my impressionable eyes.

I can still picture him with a faded light blue jersey and sporting a knee bandage.

And what I remember best of all is the comment my father made when St. Anne's were awarded a close-in free. 'Watch how Jack takes this, I bet you the goalkeeper won't stop it.'

As a netminder himself, he knew what to expect. Jack promptly drilled the sliothar hard off the surface, and it hopped up at such speed that the man facing him didn't see it as it rattled the net.

It made contact with the ground in the perfect spot, and Jack repeated the trick at a later stage just to underline his class.

The memory of that performance has stayed with me, and I'm sure his colleagues of old will recall a whole lot more on Saturday.

I've seen a pdf copy of the book, but I only scanned through it as I didn't want to spoil the pleasure of reading the finished article.

However, I can vouch for its quality, with the gallant feats of parish teams faithfully recorded from the Kilmannon side of 1886 all the way up to the present era.

There's special mention for the ladies' footballers, and rightly so. Incredibly, they won the Junior 'B' county title as recently as 2010, and were crowned Senior queens for the first time a mere seven years later.

The achievement of dual star Fiona Rochford also merits deserved prominence. Recently I wrote in this column about current Wexford footballer Cathal Devereux who has made the grade even though his only experience at club level with Our Lady's Island thus far was gained in the Junior 'B' ranks (they have now voluntarily moved to Junior 'A').

It was a similar tale with Fiona, as she wasn't interested in the lure of joining a bigger club when she won All-Ireland Senior camogie medals in 2011 to 2012 while inspiring St. Anne's in the lowest grade.

Space prevents me from going into further detail on the book, but it's a marvellous addition to the G.A.A. library and Jim ought to take a bow.

I know what it's like to produce a club history from start to finish, as I've done it twice. It's an all-consuming, arduous labour of love, but the sight of the finished product makes it all worthwhile.

Jim will experience that special feeling next Saturday, and I hope he gets the support he deserves on a big night for the St. Anne's club.

Wexford People