The upcoming club semi finals in Wexford contain 2 teams who have yet to win senior title (Ferns & Glynn Barntown), a club without a title since 1993 (Cloughbawn) and the dominant Oulart-The-Ballagh (champions in 6 of the past 7 years). It made me wonder how much the county has changed in terms of club dominance over the past 40 years.
The table below of Wexford SHC winners shows the historical dominance held by Rathnure, Buffers Alley, Oulart the Ballagh
This year sees the traditional powers of Buffers Alley & Rathnure failing to make the semi finals for the fourth consecutive year. Buffers Alley have now gone 24 years without a county title after winning their 12 titles in the previous 24 years. Rathnure are currently in their leanest spell without a county title since 1947, their last title was in 2006. Adamstown who lie 4th in titles won, last won a county title in 1942 and St Aidans of Enniscorthy in 1959.
I decided to delve into the impact the dominance of clubs has had on the county panel throughout the years in order to try and show how the traditional dominance in Wexford has changed. I mapped the hurlers that made up the county panel in two eras – 1976 (All Ireland Final Runners Up), 1996 (All Ireland Champions) and compared them to the hurlers who played championship for this year’s team. A 20 year gap between each group.
Below shows the county map, with a jersey for each panel hurler placed on their club location. the jersey size placed on the club location is based on the number of hurlers from that club on the county team (i.e.bigger jersey = More players from that club)
Looking at the three maps you can clearly see the change in the geography of Wexford hurling.In the map below I have shaded the traditional hurling belt which covers Oulart the Ballagh, Buffers Alley, Enniscorthy & Rathnure.
From the shaded area you can see that 1976 saw a dominance from three clubs – Buffers Alley (6 hurlers), Oulart & Rathnure (4) along with 3 hurlers from Wexford Town, south of the shaded area (Faythe Harriers).
1996 saw a slightly larger spread south of the shaded area, in the area around Wexford Town, with Glynn Barntown and St Martins having 3 hurlers on the county panel.
2016 sees a strong geographical change from the 1976 panel. Now the dominance held by the traditional hurling clubs is much reduced. Oulart had 3 hurlers playing in 2016 (notably with injuries to David Redmond & Shaun Murphy their number would be 5), Buffers Alley (1) and Rathnure had no hurler play in the 2016 Championship for Wexford. Outside of Oulart’s 3 hurlers we see a widespread of clubs represented with 1 or 2 hurlers. The southern area below the shaded area has seen an outbreak of hurling influence on the county team.
The numbers below show the wider spread of clubs with players represented on the county panel from 1976 to 2016.
The numbers and maps appear to show that Wexford Hurling is now a county-wide sport. The south of the county now holds many senior and minor hurlers. Numerous smaller clubs dotted throughout the county have also produced hurlers capable at playing at a high level.
The traditional big 3 are still holding their ground in the Senior level of the County Championship but their dominance as a group has been reduced.