The Last Great Victory


The September sun shone down on the supporters of the Wexford hurling team as they filed joyfully through the narrow lanes leading from Croke Park. The shouts of 'Up Wexford!' echoed across the streets of North Dublin as the frenzied and ecstatic hordes poured forth their exuberance and exultation in the great victory of their county's hurling team. The Dublin flag sellers had experienced their best day's business of the year. Purple and gold badges, purple and gold hats, bunting, small flags, big flags ... they had all been snapped up by the confident and good-humoured people from below the Blackstairs.

It was the first Sunday of September 1968.

A Dual Win

They had just witnessed a dual All-Ireland win. The minor hurlers had supplied the appetizer in the form of the county's third All-Ireland crown, by defeating Cork on a score line of 2-13 to 3-7. The main event, the All-Ireland senior hurling final, was a game to savour. For the Wexford supporters, however, the real enjoyment was confined to the second half. In the first half, the highly-rated Munster champions, Tipperary, took Wexford apart. An unforgettable display by Mick Roche at centre-half back and an equally adept exhibition of power and skill by Babs Keating in the forwards, left Tipperary in control of the game and leading by 1-11 to 1-3 at the interval. But for the heroics of Wexford goalkeeper, Pat Nolan of Oylegate, the gap between the sides would have been farcical. A verbal tour-de-force, of crockery-smashing proportions, by Wexford coach, Padge Kehoe, at half-time, brought about the desired transformation in his team. Aided and abetted by selector, Nick Rackard, he unleashed a torrent of censure and reproach at his charges. The second half was a revelation as Wexford, led by their captain, Dan Quigley, and admirably supported by Paul Lynch, Tony Doran, Jack Berry and an impudent young substitute named John Quigley, overhauled Tipperary and eventually won on a score line of 5-8 to 3-13.

Extract from Tom Williams' With Heart and Hand

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