Net-minder legend Art Foley laid to rest

The late ART FOLEY. Photo Source; Funeral Obituary,

The last surviving member of the illustrious Wexford hurling teams of the 1950’s, and outstanding legend in his own right, Art Foley, has been laid to rest following his funeral service in New York today. His memory will never be forgotten and his name will live amongst the greatest hurling achievers.

Many tributes have been paid lead by the Chairman of Wexford GAA County Board, Derek Kent. Former county chairman and Wexford team manager, Tony Dempsey, recalled memories of Art who worked at Davis’ Flour Mills, Enniscorthy, when he first made an impression on the hurling field, while Liam Griffin, manager of the victorious Wexford team of 1996, said he was “the last surviving member of a great team.”

FUNERAL NOTICE; Foley, Michael A., “Art”, 90, of Mastic passed away on October 28, 2019. Beloved husband of Anne. Loving father of Thomas (the late Janet), Roseann Salazar (Alberto), Elizabeth “Betty” Deakon (Don), Ann Corcoran (William), Michael (Jolie) and James (Joanne). Cherished grandfather of Pedro, Brian (Melissa), Leslie DeMedecis (Brad), Billy, Christopher, Olivia, Michael, Michael Jr., Cassie Smith (Corey), James (Maria) and Anthony. Adored great grandfather of Bailey, Regan, Nathan, Alexander, Zachary, Scarlet, Angel, Landon, Joey, Kylie, Justin, Michael III, Seamus and 2 on the way. Dear brother of Brian, predeceased by Kevin, Conor, Larry, Kathleen and Carmel. The family will receive visitors Tuesday, October 29th, 2-4 and 7-9 pm at Arthur F. White Funeral Home, Inc., 234 Broadway, Bethpage. Funeral Service Tuesday, October 29th, 7:30 pm at the funeral home. Cremation Private. 

Michael Arthur ‘Art’ Foley was born on December 14th 1928 in Enniscorthy and quickly entered the inter-county hurling scene when he joined the Wexford minor team at the age of 17, and joined the senior panel in during the 1946-’47 league campaign. In an extraordinary hurling career, Art Foley won seven senior hurling cham pionship titles with St. Aidan’s, Enniscorthy, and he kept goal for Wexford in the victorious All-Ireland finals of 1955 and 1956. A National Hurling League title in 1955-’56 and a Railway Cup medal in 1957 was also amongst his achievements. He won Leinster championship glory in 1954.’55 and ’56. In total, Art Foley made 91 appearences, 27 of them in championship games. In 1958, Foley was on tour with the Wexford team in New York when he decided to retire and set up home in ‘the Big Apple’ where he remained for the rest of his life, although, he made many visits to his native Enniscorthy to renew ties with family and friends.

In his biography, ‘My Life and Times’ (Blackwater Press, pub. 1996), Michael O’Hehir recalled that “Art Foley’s save has gone into the folklore of hurling and there have been many versions of what Ringey said when he chased in after his unsuccessful shot. Most of these became tall tales and grew in exaggeration as time went by.”

Foley became the stuff of Gaelic Games legend following a remarkable incident in the 1956 All-Ireland final in which Wexford defeated Cork. With seconds remaining in the final and Wexford holding onto a two-point lead, the ball broke to Christy Ring he headed straight for goal with the Wexford back line in pursuit. When he got to the 21-yard line he let off a shot that was set to rattle the back of the net, but the shot was somehow blocked by Foley and then cleared by him too. Ring remarked in an interview many years later; “When I got through I thought I had it, but Foley had other ideas, and fair play to him he made a great save.” After the sliotar had been cleared Ring raced in and grabbed Foley by the hair and said “You little black bastard you’ve beaten us”. Foley replied “It’s about so and so time someone did” before both men shook hands and Ring congratulated him on his save.”

 Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.

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