|Irish name||Airt Ó Foghlú|
14 December 1928 |
Enniscorthy, County Wexford, Ireland
|Height||5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)|
|Occupation||TWA crew chief|
Born in Enniscorthy, County Wexford, Foley first played competitive hurling in his youth. He arrived on the inter-county scene at the age of seventeen when he first linked up with the Wexford minor team. He joined the senior panel during the 1946-47 league. Foley later became a regular member of the starting fifteen, and won two All-Ireland medals, three Leinster medals and one National Hurling League medal. He was an All-Ireland runner-up on one occasion.
Foley retired from inter-county hurling following the conclusion of the 1957 championship.
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.
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Foley first played for Wexford as a member of the minor team in 1946, however, he enjoyed little success in his grade. He was just out of the minor ranks when he was added to the Wexford senior team at the end of the year, and made his championship debut in the quarter finals of the 1947 Leinster Championship in a 3-12 to 2-10 victory over Laois. Fellow Wexford stars Bobby Rackard and Padge Kehoe also made their championship debutes in the same game. 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 maintain his position in the team. After Wexford's 6-7 to 3-4 defeat to Galway in the 1950-51 National Hurling League final. Foley was dropped from the starting team and indeed the squad for the duration of the 1951 hurling championship. Horeswood's Paddy Shannon, Rathnure's Jim Rackard, and UCD's Ray Brennan were tried as alternative replacements. Wexford went on to make the All-Ireland Final that year, but suffered a 7-7 to 3-9 loss to Tipperary. Foley was then reinstated as first choice goalkeeper in the 1951 Oireachtas Cup Final victory over Kilkenny.
Billy Rackard in his 1996 book 'No Hurling at the Dairy Door' wrote:
'In the league final against Galway, an unfortunate event happened which had an unsettling effect on our team. Our star goalkeeper, Art Foley, appeared to lose his nerve on that occasion, and there were several attempts to find a suitable replacement, one being my brother Jim who played in the Leinster final. Ray Brennan, a Wexford native, was giving outstanding displays in goal for UCD around that time. He was brought in for the All-Ireland semi-final and final. Although Brennan was a fine goalkeeper, too much was expected of him, especially in the final. In retrospect, it was a mistake to drop Foley, a brilliant goalkeeper who later proved his worth in no uncertain fashion'.
After back to back Leinster defeats over the next two years, Wexford faced Dublin in the 1954 decider. A huge 8-5 to 1-4 victory gave Foley his first Leinster medal. A record crowd of 84,856 attended the subsequent All-Ireland decider on 5 September 1954 with Cork providing the opposition. Wexford had a four-point lead with seventeen minutes left to play, however, history was against Foley's side when Johnny Clifford scored the winning goal for Cork with just four minutes left. A narrow 1-9 to 1-6 victory secured a third successive All-Ireland for Cork.
In 1955 Wexford continued their provincial dominance with Foley collecting a second Leinster medal following a 5-6 to 3-9 defeat of Kilkenny in a replay of the Leinster final. Galway, who had been given a bye to the final without ever playing a game, provided the opposition in the subsequent All-Ireland final on 4 September 1955. At half-time the men from the west led by 2-5 to 2-3 courtesy of two goals from eighteen-year-old schoolboy Paddy Egan. A goal by Tim Flood nine minutes from the end clinched a 3-13 to 2-8 victory and a first All-Ireland medal for Foley. It was Wexford's first All-Ireland triumph in forty-five years.
Foley added a National Hurling League medal to his collection in 1956 as Tipperary were bested by 5-9 to 2-14. The subsequent championship campaign saw Wexford reach the provincial final once again. A narrow 4-8 to 3-10 defeat of Kilkenny gave Foley his third successive Leinster medal. Galway fell heavily in the All-Ireland semi-final, allowing Wexford to advance to an All-Ireland final meeting with Cork on 23 September 1956. The most famous moment in Foley's career came in the dying minutes of that game. With seconds remaining in the final and Wexford holding onto 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. 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. 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 Nicky Rackard giving Wexford a 2-14 to 2-8 victory. It was Foley's second All-Ireland medal.
Foley was selected for the Leinster inter-provincial team as goalkeeper in 1956. It was a successful year as Leinster enjoyed one of their biggest ever defeats of arch rivals Munster. A 5-11 to 1-7 victory gave Foley a coveted Railway Cup medal.
- St. Aidan's
- Wexford Senior Hurling Championship (7): 1946, 1947, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1956, 1957
- All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship (2): 1955, 1956
- Leinster Senior Hurling Championship (3): 1954, 1955, 1956
- National Hurling League (1): 1955-56
- Railway Cup (1): 1956
- "All-Ireland Win 1955". Ask About Ireland website. Retrieved 4 April 2013.
- "Wexford's Art Foley on that save from Christy Ring in '56 Final". Irish Independent. 13 December 2014. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
- "Foley recalls crucial save vs. Ring". Irish Echo. 13 December 2014. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
- "All-Ireland Win 1956". Ask About Ireland website. Retrieved 4 April 2013.
- "One fine day - When Wexford went to Croker". RTÉ Radio 1 website. Retrieved 4 April 2013.