This day 23 years ago, Wexford were crowned All-Ireland Senior Hurling Champions…
It was a memorable year for the Model Men, with people – to this day, 23 years later – continuing to talk about those fantastic times.
The parties, the buzz, the athmosphere, the sing-songs, the pure joy. Everything about it lives fondly in the memories of Wexford people.
One person who was central to Wexford’s winning recepie in 1996 was their modern manager, Liam Griffin. The speech below was given by Griffin in the lead up to the Leinster Hurling final against Offaly, when he stopped the team bus as they were crossing the Wexford-Wicklow border on the journey up to Croke Park.
Who are you? Who are you? I’ll tell you who you are. When I’m finished speaking we are going to walk out of Wexford. Our goal is that the next time we set foot in this, our county, we will be Leinster Champions. On Friday night there was a report, on television, from Offaly and in mentioning the word tradition they sang their anthem. It made me think about tradition and its importance. And about this fantastic county of ours. A county of which we should be so proud. From the beach outside there to Courtown, Gorey, Ardamine, Blackwater, Curracloe, Wexford, Rosslare, Kilmore, Cullenstown, Fethard and The Hook. And back again to Ross, Mount Leinster, Rathnure and Enniscorthy. And of course Boolavogue. That’s who we are and that’s where we come from.
Our people have real songs to sing. When they question the blood in our veins don’t you ever forget that our county has a proud past and when other counties failed, ours was the only one of 32 counties wherein the people, your forefathers, rose and shook off the chains of bondage. Listen to ‘Boolavogue’ and ‘The Boys of Wexford’ and then think of Offaly. Why should we fear Offaly or Kilkenny or any other Irish county? Nothing in our past suggests that we should. Look at your names. Great Wexford names. Think of all the memories that this county of ours holds for you. For many of the bones of our nearest and dearest lie buried in the clay beneath your feet. Like yours will, much sooner than you ever thought. This is our chance to make history. For which you will never be forgotten. You come from a fighting tradition and don’t ever forget it.
Now we are going to walk up this road in silence. Out of our county. With the promise to each other that we will fight to the last – And remember! It is only for 70 minutes. Not like your forefathers who had to fight for days on end. We will promise to give absolutely everything in order that the next time we set foot on Wexford soil we will carry back the Leinster Cup.
Today we are playing for a way of life. Breathe in now, long and hard and as you walk, think of yourself since childhood, of all the matches you played, all of your friends both alive and gone, and make this promise to yourself. Today is the day we will be proud again. And remember:
“We are the boys of Wexford who fought with heart and hand.”
That’s real tradition. Let’s go!