Saturday 21 September 2019

What a marvellous week for the GAA in our proud county

Brendan Furlong
Brendan Furlong

Brendan Furlong's Hop Ball column

Wexford G.A.A. ticked all the right boxes for what was a marvellous week.

It's hard to beat what was witnessed over the past week which showcased what is best about the Association in the county.

Wexford as a county may have been devastated following the showing of our Senior hurlers against Kilkenny, but it did spark a response, a positive response that carried such strength and authority that it demonstrated that we as a county are much more than just one game.

Typically you see what is happening on the inter-county pitches as the tip of the pyramid, the pinnacle of what the G.A.A. is about, but it is much more than that.

Last Sunday I took in the short journey to the Ferns G.A.A. Centre of Excellence for the national Féile Peil finals and all the constituent elements for a G.A.A. occasion were on hand.

A rural setting, on a beautiful summer's afternoon, hundreds of supporters, teams from near and far, an occasion that showcased what the G.A.A. is all about, with boys' and girls' Under-14 semi-finals and finals that caught the imagination of everyone present.

We had the opportunity to see our own local talent, plus the upcoming talent from other counties, in games that sparked to life as these young players were in action in their very own All-Ireland finals.

As I turned off the main road along the roadway to the Centre of Excellence, I was immediately excited about what I was witnessing as parents, grandparents and supporters streamed into the grounds.

There was a professionally-produced programme, top-class stewarding, with plenty of helpers on hand from the clubs of the county, whose first impulse was to assist rather than make things difficult.

There was parking right next to all pitches and the marvellous clubhouse, making it a dream venue for such an occasion.

The simple secret of the success of this marvellous occasion was the months of work carried out behind the scenes.

Wexford had a professional leader in Marguerite Furlong, who brought together a group that saw the occasion move along so professionaly.

County Chairman Diarmuid Devereux, County Secretary Margaret Doyle, Coiste na nOg officers Bobby Goff, Angela McCormack and P.J. Howlin all played their part, while in the hub centre for games management were Marian Doyle and John O'Neill.

Also a special mention for the stewards who carried out a professional job right through the weekend.

Wexford G.A.A. held a certain pride with the manner in which Féile was run off from Friday afternoon right through to Sunday.

We had the colourful parades, and during the course of the weekend in Wexford some 270 league games were played through the various Divisions, followed by 54 quarter-finals, 20 semi-finals and ten finals.

What I witnessed over the three days was a real breath of fresh air which brought so much positivity about the Association.

I could not move away without a mention about the Ferns Centre of Excellence. It won wide acclaim from each and everyone present. Given the countywide representation there was a good sample of opinion. The general response was 'Wexford can be proud of their new centre'.

While all of this was taking place, the county was also showing real positivity on the playing fields, with three marvellous successes. Such was the outpouring of grief following the Kilkenny defeat that a positive response of this magnitude could not have been forecast.

What we witnessed since last Wednesday evening was a fantastic experience.

The Under-21 hurlers got the ball rolling, and this was followed by a wonderful 48 hours for football as the Juniors won the Leinster title and the Seniors dumped Down in the qualifiers.

The fact that those positive experiences were replicated at each club ground throughout the county reinforced the belief that the games of hurling and football are not all about big occasions in Croke Park and Semple Stadium.

Wexford is a proud county which locals along with visitors discovered over the past week. it was one of the most enjoyable weeks on the local G.A.A. scene for many years.

Now let's hope we can look forward to the hosting of Féile Iomáint in two years' time.

Wexford People

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