Our tribute to the men and women of 1968
WEXFORD’S BRILLIANT 14 men held on for the last spine-tingling minutes to lift the Irish Press Cup and All-Ireland Minor hurling title with a 2-13 to 3-7 victory over Cork.
And peculiarly enough, the hurler who played such a major part in his side’s success didn’t know Wexford had won until ten minutes after the game.
Four minutes from the end, centre-back Larry Byrne, who had played the game of his life, was felled by a Cork forward. He was attended to, carried off, but he never heard the Wexford victory shouts as the full-time whistle sounded.
Having used their three substitutes, Wexford could not bring in a replacement for Byrne, but as Cork attacked strongly and anxiously in those few exciting moments, the defence held out.
Wexford richly deserved their victory, and were it not for some slowness in the forward line especially in the first-half, when they continually tried to lift the ball rather than pull first time, they might not have been four points (3-2 to 0-7) behind at half-time.
Byrne brought his side back into the game in the first minute of the second-half when his dropping 70-yard free found its way to the Cork net.
In that second-half Wexford were by far the better side, with Mick Butler grasping the game in the 19th minute, grabbing a ball 50 yards from the Cork goal and soloing to within 30, before dispatching a great shot to the corner of the net.
Larry Byrne, Liam Bennett and ‘keeper Pat Cox were excellent in defence, but with the scoreline as it was at the final whistle with four minutes remaining, almost the full Cork side moved upfield in an effort to reduce the lead.
The crowding around the goalmouth plus Cork’s extra anxiety led to the Rebels being unable to break down the Wexford rearguard.
Martin Qugley, Mick Butler and Jamesie Murphy were outstanding in the Wexford attack, causing constant worry to the Cork defence and proving particularly inspirational through the second 30 minutes.
Wexford: Pat Cox (Enniscorthy St. Aidan’s); Jack Russell (Geraldine O’Hanrahans), George O’Connor (Faythe Harriers), Peter O’Brien (Ferns St. Aidan’s); Aidan Kerrigan (St. Patrick’s, Ballyoughter), Larry Byrne (Kilmore-Rathangan, 1-0 free), Liam Bennett (Faythe Harriers); Philip Kennedy (St. James’), Tom Byrne (Oulart-The Ballagh, capt.); Martin Quigley (Rathnure, 0-4), Pat ‘Kenny’ Walsh (Faythe Harriers, 0-1), Jamesie Murphy (Faythe Harriers, 0-1); Mick Butler (Buffers Alley, 1-6), Martin Casey (Buffers Alley, 0-1), Martin Byrne (Askamore). Subs. - Larry Kinsella (HWH-Bunclody) for Bennett, Tom ‘Gawny’ Walsh (Faythe Harriers) for P. Walsh, Bennett for Byrne, also Denis Kinsella (Ferns St. Aidan’s), Paddy Breen (Horeswood), Matt Wickham (St. Mary’s, Rosslare), Larry Doyle (Enniscorthy St. Aidan’s), Paddy O’Connor (Oulart-The Ballagh).
The All-Ireland winning Wexford Minor hurlers of 1968.