Wexford goalkeeping great Art Foley dies aged 90

Foley was last remaining player from the sides that won All-Ireland in 1955 and ‘56

Former Wexford goalkeeper Art Foley has died aged 90. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Former Wexford goalkeeper Art Foley has died aged 90. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

 

The death at the age of 90 of the great Wexford goalkeeper of the 1950s, Art Foley, has taken the last surviving member of the famous Wexford sides that won back-to-back All-Irelands in 1955 and ‘56. From Enniscorthy, he died in the US where he had lived most of his life.

He will be forever associated with a watershed moment in the 1956 final against Cork when having led well for most of the match Wexford found themselves in a titanic scrap with the final whistle looming.

Three minutes from the end after restoring a two-point lead, they conceded a goal-scoring opportunity to Christy Ring. Foley saved and moments later Nicky Rackard score the goal that settled the outcome.

In the Irish Independent, Mitchel Cogley described it as the ‘Save of the Century’ in the ‘greatest final of the century’. PD Mehigan, writing in these pages as Pat’O, drew attention to the overall quality of the performance.

“Wexford owe much to their brilliant goalkeeper, A Foley, who saved half-a-dozen hot shots in the last half. . .”

In an interview with the Irish Echo in 2011, Art Foley recalled the famous intervention, setting right in the process some misconceptions.

“There was a long clearance from Cork and Christy won the ball. He took off on a long solo run, cutting across the field. He came straight down the middle and stopped at the 21. Why he didn’t keep going, I didn’t know. I’m still surprised.

“Well, he shot and I blocked it straight up in the air. This is where they always get it wrong. They always say I caught it and cleared it, straight to Nicky [Rackard] and he scored the goal. But I blocked it out and Pat Barry [Cork]doubled on it, and it hit the outside of the net.

“I pucked it out to Jim English and he passed it to Tom Ryan, and he got it to Nicky and Nicky got the goal, and we went on to win.”

He was pre-deceased in June of this year by another legendary contemporary, Ned Wheeler.

“He’s the last of that team,” said the county’s most recent All-Ireland winning manager, Liam Griffin. “It should be a celebration because so many of them lived to be a good age and we got so much in Wexford from them.”

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