Wexford stalwarts amongst hurling ‘all-time greats’

By Dan Walsh

An Irish writer/broadcaster Henry Wymbs writing in London published newspaper The Irish Post recently admits that while he played football hurling was my first love and he decided to select the best hurling team of the 1960sand Wexford performs with pride.

Seven Wexford players get a favourable mention amongst the “all-time greats”; Pat Nolan, Tom Neville, Jim English, Billy Rackard, Jim Morrissey, Tony Doran and Oliver ‘Hopper McGrath.

His favourite goalkeepers were Ollie Walsh, Kilkenny and Pat Nolan, Wexford, about whom he wrote;A tremendous keeper under pressure, and the essence of reliability, his lengthy clearances created many scoring opportunities for the Wexford forwards.”

WEXFORD’S LEGENDARY HURLING GOALKEEPERS. PAT NOLAN (Oylegate-Glenbrien) and the late ART FOLEY (St. Aidan’s, Enniscorthy).

His Defenders were Jimmy Brohan, Cork; Tom Neville, Wexford; “A tower of strength at corner back for Wexford, Tom was a tenacious tackler and gave sterling service to the ‘Yellow Bellies’; Austin Flynn, Waterford, Noel Drumgoole, Dublin, Kieran Carey, Tipperary, Lar Foley, Dublin, Tom McGarry, Limerick, Jim English, Wexford; “A terrific hurler, who was fiercely competitive with great ball control and composure. A class act in the early sixties”, Billy Rackard, Wexford; “Billy was a colossal hurler and a rock-solid defender. He perfected the art of catching the dropping ball as he held off his opponent with his shoulder protecting his hand with his hurl. A man with a splendid physique, unrivalled vision and incredible strength when lashing the ball up field”, Martin Og Morrissey, Waterford, Jimmy Duggan, Galway, and Ollie Fennell, Laois.

MIDFIELD; Theo English, Tipperary, and Jim Morrissey, Wexford; This was an exemplary sportsman, and a wonderful striker of the ball both on the ground and in the air.”

FORWARDS; Jimmy Doyle, Tipperary, Christy O’Brien, Laois, Tony Doran, Wexford; One of the stars of Wexford’s hurling triumph in 1968, donning the mantle of his hero Nickey Rackard. He was over six-foot-tall, forceful and hardworking., Donie Nealen, Tipperary, Eddie Keher, Kilkenny, Larry Guinan, Waterford, Achill Boothman, Dublin, Liam Devaney, Tipperary, Paddy Molloy, Offaly, Tom Walsh, Kilkenny, and Oliver (Hopper) McGrath, Wexford; Hopper was the first Wexford player to come out of the town of Wexford in the late fifties. Though small in build, he made up for his size with his bewildering pace and unlimited hurling skills.

That’s it folks, until we hit the 1970s. In the meantime, do look after yourselves and stay safe.

Henry Wymbs has always had a love of Gaelic football and hurling and played inter-county football for Sligo in 1967. He now presents ‘Irish Eye’, a weekly Irish music programme broadcast from Oxford across BBC Radio Oxford, BBC Radio Berkshire and online via BBC iPlayer. Email henry.wymbs@bbc.co.uk.

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