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Can Wexford hurling prosper again?

Updated: Thursday, 24 Apr 2014 10:20 | Comments

Martin Storey captained Wexford to their last All-Ireland triumph
Martin Storey captained Wexford to their last All-Ireland triumph

It’s been a while since Wexford dined at hurling’s top table.

Inspired by the iconic Rackard brothers, one of the game’s traditional strongholds first made their mark in the 1950s. Back-to-back All-Ireland successes were achieved in that decade, including victory over a Cork side that was led by the great Christy Ring.

The 1960s saw two more Liam MacCarthy triumphs, with Tipperary the vanquished side on both occasions. And then there was that gap to that glorious summer of 1996. Wexford defeated Kilkenny, Dublin, Offaly, Galway and Limerick en route to a famous triumph.

Like Clare the previous year, there was a feel-good factor about their achievement and the public, you sensed, needed no invitation to join the party or dance at the crossroads. I’m sure Wexford people thought it would be the start of something really good.

However, the reality since is that of meagre pickings with only two Leinster titles to show for their efforts. Kilkenny’s domination is partly responsible, but a lack of underage success is closer to the core of Wexford’s time in doldrums.

2013 offered some hope with a Leinster U-21 success and creditable performances by the seniors in the Championship.

To that end, can Wexford be a genuine hurling force again?

Former Tipperary goalkeeper Brendan Cummins believes that Liam Dunne is the right man at that helm to lead Wexford forward.

Citing the effort Dunne made to get an extension to his term last year, Cummins spoke of the potential in the squad. " I have spoken to him a few times and he’s a great man to have in charge of a team.

"He’s re-building again which is very important. He wants stability and he’s going to get that from the county board.

"They drew with Clare last year (in the qualifiers) and Clare were lucky to get that win (after extra time) in Thurles."

Tomás Mulcahy fondly recalls the ’96 success, but adds that proper structures need to be put in place to ensure that counties like Wexford and Offaly get back to the level they were once at.

“We can all remember ’96 and what they brought to the game. The players deserved their All-Ireland success. We need days like that again.

"My fear is the elitism that’s coming. Five or six teams are pulling away and the others are slipping. The gap is getting bigger.

“You would like to think that the money from the television deals, for example, would be spent on getting coaches to help counties get back to the level they were at.” 

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