In his monthly sports column, Eddie Ryan remembers Wexford’s brilliant All-Ireland hurling win in 1996.
In 1995 after a gap of eighty three years, Clare won the All-Ireland Hurling title. Wexford manager Liam Griffin knew a thing or two about Clare hurling.
His father was from Newmarket-on-Fergus, and the hotelier had lined out for the club and Clare under-21 team. He surveyed the swaying crowds in Ennis, his eyes fell upon the victory stage and the hurling’s Holy Grail.
To the people of Wexford the Liam McCarthy Cup seemed a life-time away. At around the time, there was a gathering of people in Wexford also. Wexford supporters were meeting with only one item on the agenda. Sack Liam Griffin! For Wexford people the Clare win was just another slap in the face.
Once mighty Wexford had fallen far from grace, and drastic measures were required. Captain Liam Dunne had been stripped of the captaincy, the general feeling was Griffin was not up to the task, of restoring the pride in the Purple and Gold. The players certainly did not see Griffin as the Messiah either. They were old school and found his new physchology completely foreign to them. They were set in their ways, the problem was they were not winning ways! Offaly had duly dispatched Wexford from the championship in ’95. Throw in a league defeat to lowly Meath, and Griffin was now staring at the bottom of the barrel. When the county Board ratified Griffin for another term, there was general shock within the county.