Off The Ball remembers when Wexford went in search of the Holy Trinity

Art Foley and Ned Wheeler joined the lads for a special chat about a magical summer in 1956

BY Cian Roche 21:40 Friday 8 July 2016, 21:40 8 Jul 2016

Image: @GAANostalgia

In the summer of 1956, Wexford were on the verge of doing the unthinkable.

The hurlers had already beaten Kilkenny in Leinster final and Tipperary in League final that year. Cork remained the only team standing in their way of completing the Holy Trinity. 

This, as it proved, was all the more daunting when you consider the fact that Wexford had never beaten Cork in the Championship and only two years previous the Rebels had gotten the better of them.

Crowds from Wexford came to see the game, they drove on tractors and bicycles, leaving three or four days beforehand. A quick mass said at 6.30am that morning to allow people time to travel up.

Any companies with trucks or heavy transport would make them available to carry people en masse to Dublin.

On tonight's Off The Ball, Ger was joined by two members of the historic Wexford side - goalkeeper, Art Foley and midfielder, Ned Wheeler - and they began by giving some background on the Cork team of that year.

"They were a unique gathering of men," Wheeler explained. "They took great pride in the jersey of Cork, as we all did with our individual counties.  But the Cork lads seemed to have cast a spell over other hurling counties and even the mention of Christy Ring was enough to dampen your thoughts." 

Ring was off in search of a ninth All-Ireland title and on the day, Foley produced a match winning save to deny the legendary forward.

"What do I remember [of the save]? That I was the luckiest man in the world," said Foley. 

"Christy Ring, when he got that ball and came on the run, the Cork crowd went crazy. The Wexford crowd were groaning. He shot and I blocked, I drove it out to the side and Pat Barry drove it wide... There was only two minutes to go then.

"I stood because I knew where he was going to hit it. The only thing I did was watch the ball, I wasn't looking at him. He let fly and the ball was rising, it looked like it might be going over the bar but I couldn't take that chance so I blocked it."

Wheeler continued: "The most amazing thing when that game finished, Bobby Rackard and Nick O'Donnell chaired Christy Ring off the field. That is one phase of my life that I'll never forget."

You can hear the full discussion of this remarkable story on Friday's Off The Ball by clicking the podcast below.


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