Sunday 20 October 2019

Worthy champions fully deserve their place in the annals

Brendan Furlong: Hop Ball column

St James' are the outstanding success story of the Tom Doyle Supplies Senior football championship. This was highlighted when they won the blue riband of football in the county at Innovate Wexford Park on Saturday.

Ramsgrange is an area with a remarkable spirit of determination, loyalty and parish pride, all of which is evident from the enormous progress the parish has made over many decades.

The club is still in contention for the Intermediate 'A' hurling title, while last year they provided the captains to both our Senior inter-county teams, Matthew O'Hanlon (hurling) and Graeme Molloy (football).

And based on Saturday's heroics, it was quite clear that they are blessed with two born leaders. O'Hanlon was simply superb in midfield while Molloy provided the defensive platform to deny St. Martin's, restricting them to just four points from play.

The key to success of any great parish effort lies in the co-operation and voluntary help readily given, and the people of Ramsgrange and surrounding townlands have never failed to give their unstinted support in any project, particularly when it comes to the G.A.A.

Great social work is being done unobtrusively by the St. James' club. Though founded towards the end of the last century in its first form, the club and parish has had to work its way through those barren years to achieve their ultimate goal - the county Senior football title. But it started to leave its mark on under-age competitions from which this current bunch of players emerged.

Last year they looked a promising outfit when winning the county Intermediate football title, but few would have expected to see the colours of green and white dominate our county Senior football final occasion just twelve months later.

They have had much pain along the way but, indicative of the club's strength, they kept on building each year, gradually improved, and now they are worthy county Senior football champions.

They won the title the most difficult way, dethroning reigning champions St. Anne's in the quarter-final, long-time semi-finalist specialists, Shelmaliers, after a replay, and hotly-fancied St. Martin's on the most joyous day in this proud club's history.

The conveyer belt has reaped a rich harvest for St. James'. Now they can look forward to a first appearance in the Leinster Club Senior football championship, but nothing would give them greater pride than to win the county Intermediate 'A' hurling title, bringing them to Intermediate and just one step away from being another proud dual Senior club in the county.

The brains behind this St. James' success were provided by two people, John and Luke O'Hanlon. No matter where I covered a game involving St. James' from O'Kennedy Park to Grantstown, or Taghmon to headquarters in Innovate Wexford Park, the two brothers have been patrolling the sideline, calling the moves and switches before making the necessary substitutions. Both John and Luke must have been the proudest men in Innovate Wexford Park when referee David Jenkins blew that long final whistle.

As a colleague said to me at the end, if any two people deserved their moment in history it was John and Luke. Two easy-going mentors with a great relationship with their players, such an approach goes a long way. Congratulations to St. James' - you have brought light at the end of the tunnel for Wexford football.

On the small ball front it was wonderful to see Naomh Eanna return to Senior ranks following their impressive Intermediate hurling final victory over Crossabeg-Ballymurn. The Gorey town club is enjoying great success at under-age level. Let's hope this is the start of something special for the north Wexford outfit. It should provide a great boost for the game of hurling in the town.

Also a special mention to Glynn-Barntown. No club has suffered more disappointment over the past twelve months than the Wexford District men. Narow losers to St. James' in last year's Intermediate football final, and Senior hurling semi-final losers for the past three years, they showed marvellous resilience to bounce back less than seven days after their hurling disappointment to lift the county Intermediate football title.

So there's further problems for the fixtures committee, with Glynn-Barntown now becoming yet another dual Senior club in the county, bouncing back from a disappointing fall-out to joy which was well deserved.

Wexford People

Most Read