|Irish name||Airt Ó Foghlú|
14 December 1928 |
Enniscorthy, County Wexford
Michael Arthur Foley (born December 14, 1928), better known as Art Foley, is a retired Irish sportsperson. He played hurling with his local club St. Aidan's of Enniscorthy and with the Wexford senior inter-county team from 1946 until 1956.
Foley played his club hurling with his local St. Aidan's club and enjoyed much success. He won senior county titles in 1946, 1947, 1952, 1953, 1954 and 1956. His team mates at the club included the legendary Nick O'Donnell.
Foley first played hurling for Wexford in 1946 well still a minor. He was small for a goalkeeper but very solid and strong and his quick hands in goal made him an important member of the Wexford team. Confidence and inconsistency, however, was something he lacked in the early days when in the Wexford goal, which in turn meant that he was dropped on numerous occasions and failed to stamp his position fully in the team. During the 1951 championship Foley was dropped from the team and indeed the squad as Wexford struggled to find a goalkeeper and Foley wasn't in anyway impressive. Wexford went on to lose the All-Ireland final that year with seven goals put past the then goalkeeper Ray Brennan who never played inter-county after that, so Foley was brought back into the frame again in 1952. Foley didn't really maintain the goal position fully during the 1952 and 1953 championship campaigns. In 1954, however, Foley won his first Leinster title. Wexford later played Cork in the All-Ireland final, however, victory went to 'the Rebels' on that occasion. He won a second provincial title in 1955, however, Wexford went all the way this year by defeating Galway in the championship decider and Foley collected his first All-Ireland medal.
The Save from Christy Ring
The most famous moment in Foley's career, was his vital save in the dying minutes of the 1956 All-Ireland Hurling Final. With seconds remaining in the final and Wexford gone into a two point lead, the ball broke to Christy Ring and 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. Much has been said about it, and newspapers pages have been filled as regards this particular save but what happened after it also.
People for decades have always maintained that Art caught the ball in that final. But this was completely not true and the ball was blocked by his hurley. Christy 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"
But what exactly was said between Art and Ring? This particular incident has been told in so many different ways, and wasn't fully answered until the publication of Martin Codd's book "The Way I Saw It" in 2005 when a written letter from Foley explained the incident, and events leading up to it in great detail. Christy after Art had made the save, raced in grabbed Art by the hair and said "You little black bastard you've beaten us"; Foley replied "It's about so and so time someone did" but he then went on and congratulated him and went off in search of another chance. Within a minute the ball dropped into Foley again and after it was cleared it made its way up the pitch and was buried in the back of the Cork net by the masterful Nicky Rackard. Tom Dixon tagged on another point to put the icing on the cake. Wexford 2-14, Cork 2-8
A popular goalkeeper amongst the Wexford faithful and regarded as one of the heroes in the 1956 All-Ireland final, he has written his name firmly into the hurling archives. He has also had many articles written about him in newspapers mainly due to the myth surrounding his save from Christy Ring which has been literally talked through the generations.
Foley is currently living in Long Island America where he has been for the last fifty years. He emigrated in 1958. He has come home many times for all the get-togethers and presentations, with his former hurling team mates.