- All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship 1956
Infobox Hurling All-Ireland
The All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship of 1956 was the 70th edition of
Ireland’s premier hurlingknockout competition. The championship ran from May to September of that year, culminating with the All-Ireland final, held at Croke Park, Dublinon 23 September. The match was contested by Wexford and Cork, with Wexford taking the title by 2-14 to 2-8. The game itself is often remembered as the day that Cork captain Christy Ringcollected a record eighth All-Ireland winners’ medal.
The All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship was run on a provincial basis as usual. All games were played on a knockout basis whereby once a team lost they were eliminated from the championship. The format for the All-Ireland series of games ran as follows:
* The winners of the Munster Championship advanced directly to the All-Ireland final.
* The winners of the Leinster Championship advanced directly to a lone All-Ireland semi-final.
* Galway, a team who faced no competition in Connacht, entered the championship at the All-Ireland semi-final stage where they played the Leinster champions.
* There were no representatives from Ulster in the All-Ireland championship.
All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship
September 23was the date of the 1956 All-Ireland senior hurling final between Cork and Wexford. The game was postponed by three weeks due an outbreak of polio across Munster. Cork were appearing in their fourth championship decider in five years, having won the previous three finals. Wexford last appeared in the championship decider in 1955when they defeated Galway to capture their second All-Ireland title ever. Cork and Wexford last met in the All-Ireland final in 1954with Cork taking the spoils on that occasion.
Once again a huge crowd of 83,096 turned out in
Croke Parkto see another eagerly anticipated All-Ireland hurling final between these two great teams. While the attendance was marginally smaller than these sides last encounter the interest was just as great. Christy Ringwas going for his ninth All-Ireland winners’ medal while Wexford were seeking the ultimate endorsement of greatness: victory over Cork in an All-Ireland final and second championship in-a-row.
At 3:15pm the sliothar was thrown-in and the game began in earnest. Cork got off to a bad start with a point by Tim Flood and a goal by
Padge Kehoegiving Wexford a strong lead after just three minutes. Cork’s fortunes failed to turn when Tony O'Shaughnessywas forced to retire early with a head injury while Vincy Twomeycame on as the substitute. Three points by Christy Ring and one each by Mick Reganand Éamonn Gouldingkept Cork within striking distance at the interval. Wexford could have been in real trouble in the first half but for the quick thinking of Mick Morrisseywho swept the sliothar away from the goal line deny Cork an almost certain goal. Tim Flood, Nicky Rackard, Martin Coddand Tom Dixonchipped in with further points for Wexford to ensure a 1-6 to 0-5 lead at half-time.
In the dressing room at half-time the Cork selectors toyed with the idea of reintroducing Tony O’Shaughnessy while also moving
Willie John Dalyup to the attack where he could be more effective. This plan was rejected and Cork made no changes at the break. Wexford were much better immediately after the restart with the Rackard brothers, Nicky and Bobby, converting two more frees. Martin Codd had Wexford seven points ahead shortly afterwards when Martin Codd sent the sliothar between he posts after a lively solo run. Just when it looked as if the game was running away from Cork Christy Ring stood up to take a close-in free. He had only one thing on his mind as the sliothar ended up being rifled into the Wexford net for a goal. Immediately after the puck-out Ring went on the attack again, racing through the Wexford defence before sending a left-handed shot over the crossbar for another point. These scores lifted Cork, however, Padge Kehoe fought back with a fine point before Paddy Barry responded with an even finer score that went straight between the posts. Cork were definitely on the way up after these scores. Terry Kellysent the sliothar in towards the goal mouth and it was promptly gobbled up by Paddy Barry. The Sarsfield’s hurler headed toward goalkeeper Art Foley and there was no mistake in sending the sliothar straight into the net. Cork had taken a remarkable lead as the red and white flags and bunting popped up all over the stadium. Soon afterwards the sliothar came to Ring who busted through the defence once again. Although hindered by Bobby Rackardhe was still able to palm the sliothar over the crossbar to give Cork a one-point lead with ten minutes left to play. The Wexford men, who were in the same position two years earlier steadied themselves and began the fight back. The play moved to the other end of the field and Nicky Rackard made no mistake in scoring the equalizer within a minute of Ring’s point. The Cork defence was under severe trouble and conceded two frees which Rackard promptly converted. Wexford had a two-point cushion once again. In the blink of an eye the play switched to the Cork attackers once again as Ring caught the sliothar in the left full-forward position. He made a dash across the goalmouth shouldering his team mate Paddy Barry out of the way en route. Ring sent in a shot towards the net but Art Foley blocked it, deflected it into his hand and cleared it down the field. A whole host of legends have developed about the save that has gone down in history as one of the most important in the history of the championship. Jim Morrissey cleared the sliothar up the field where it was caught by Tom Ryan. Ryan passed the sliothar to Nicky Rackard who made no mistake in sending it into the Cork net past goalkeeper Mick Cashman. This was the decisive score that clinched the game for Wexford. Tom Dixon crowned Wexford’s finest hour of hurling with one final point. A score line of 2-14 to 2-8 gave victory to Wexford and a first-ever defeat over Cork.
When the final whistle was sounded the huge crowd at Croke Park witnessed an unprecedented display of sportsmanship as an exuberant Nick O’Donnell, a shy and soft spoken farmer, planted a large kiss on Ring’s cheek. He then helped Bobby Rackard and Art Foley to carry Ring shoulder-high off the pitch. Wexford had won the game but there was no doubt in their minds that Ring was the hurling hero of the hour.
score=1-9 – 1-6
goals1=T. Flood (0-2)
N. Rackard (1-6)
M. Codd (0-2)
T. Dixon (0-2)
B. Rackard (0-1)
goals2=C. Ring (1-5)
M. Regan (0-1)
É. Goulding (0-1)
P. Barry (1-1)
Croke Park, Dublin
referee= T. O'Sullivan (Limerick)
* Corry, Eoghan, "The GAA Book of Lists" (Hodder Headline Ireland, 2005).
* Donegan, Des, "The Complete Handbook of Gaelic Games" (DBA Publications Limited, 2005).
* Horgan, Tim, "Christy Ring: Hurling's Greatest" (The Collins Press, 2007).
* Nolan, Pat, "Flashbacks: A Half Century of Cork Hurling" (The Collins Press, 2000).
* Sweeney, Éamonn, "Munster HUrling Legends" (The O'Brien Press, 2002).
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