|Born||Rathdowney, County Laois, Ireland|
Ned Wheeler (born 1932 in Wexford, Ireland) is a retired Irish sportsperson. He played hurling with his local club Faythe Harriers and with the Wexford senior inter-county team from 1949 until 1965.
Wheeler played his club hurling with the famous Faythe Harriers club and enjoyed much success. He first tasted success in 1960 when he won his first senior county title. It was the first time that the Faythe Harriers club had captured the senior county championship. Two years later in 1962 Wheeler added a second county medal to his collection. He won a third and final county title in 1965.
Wheeler first came to prominence on the inter-county scene as a member of the Wexford senior team in the late 1940s. He made his debut in 1949, but it would be 1951 before he became a regular on the team. That year he won his first Leinster title as Wexford defeated Laois by 3-12 to 4-3. It was the county’s first senior provincial title since 1918. Wexford later accounted for Galway in the penultimate game of the championship, setting up an All-Ireland final meeting with Tipperary. Tipp were the overwhelming favourites and were looking for a third championship in-a-row. Nicky Rackard was the star player for Wexford, however it was Tipp who won the game by 7-7 to 3-9.
Wexford lost out to Dublin and Kilkenny in the next two Leinster finals. The team bounced back in 1954 with Wheeler winning a second Leinster medal after defeating Dublin. Wexford later trounced Antrim by 12-17 to 2-3 to qualify for the All-Ireland final. Cork were the opponents on that occasion as a record crowd of 84,856 traveled to Croke Park. Wexford led by four points with seventeen minutes left to play, but history was against Wheeler’s team. Cork were hoping for a third All-Ireland in-a-row and Christy Ring was hoping for a record eighth All-Ireland medal. In the end it was ‘the Rebel’s who won the game by 1-9 to 1-6.
In 1955 Wexford retained their provincial dominance with Wheeler collecting a third Leinster medal. The subsequent All-Ireland semi-final saw Limerick providing the opposition. Although the team was trained by Mick Mackey they were completely outclassed by Wexford who qualified for another All-Ireland final. Galway had got a bye into the final without picking up a hurley, however they took the Wexford men to task. Wexford trailed at half-time, but a Tim Flood goal near the end clinched the victory for Wexford. It was Wheeler’s first All-Ireland medal and Wexford’s first championship title since 1910.
1956 got off to a good start as Wheeler added a National Hurling League medal to his collection. By this stage Wexford were earning a reputation as a great team and they proved it by retaining the Leinster title for a third successive year. Galway fell heavily in the All-Ireland semi-final, allowing Wexford to advance to an All-Ireland final meeting with Cork. The game has gone down in history as one of the all-time classics as Christy Ring was bidding for a ninth All-Ireland medal. The game turned on one important incident as the Wexford goalkeeper, Art Foley, made a miraculous save from a Ring shot and cleared the sliothar up the field to set up another attack. Nicky Rackard scored a crucial goal with two minutes to go giving Wexford a 2-14 to 2-8 victory. In spite of Cork's loss Wexford’s Nick O'Donnell and Bobby Rackard, in an unparalleled display of sportsmanship in any game, raised Christy Ring onto their shoulders and carried him off the field. Wexford had won the game and Wheeler had collected his second All-Ireland medal but there was no doubt in their minds that the real hero was Ring.
Wexford lost their Leinster crown in 1957, however Wheeler collected a second National League medal in 1958. Two years later in 1960 Wexford were back on top and Wheeler collected a fifth Leinster medal. This victory over Kilkenny allowed Wexford to advance directly to the All-Ireland final where Tipperary were the opponents. Wheeler’s side got off to a good start with a quick goal by Mick Hassett. A second goal was scored by Oliver ‘Hopper’ McGrath just after the interval to put Wexford in the driving seat. With a minute to go the crowd invaded the pitch thinking that the game was over. When the disorder was cleared Tipp continued but only had twelve players on the field. Bill Moloughney scored a later point for Tipp; this was not entered into the official records however. It was too later in any case as Wexford won by 2-15 to 0-11 giving Wheeler his third All-Ireland medal.
Wexford lost their provincial crown in 1961, but Wheeler captured a sixth Leinster medal in 1962 as Kilkenny fell by 3-9 to 2-10. Another All-Ireland final meeting with Tipperary beckoned for Wexford and Wheeler. The Leinster men got off to a bad start as Tom Moloughney and Seán Moloughney scored two goals for Tipp inside the first minute. Wexford fought back and the game remained level for most of the rest of the match. Jimmy O'Brien from Wexford scored a remarkable goal from all of seventy yards out. It was not enough for Wexford as Tipperary won the game by 3-10 to 2-11.
The next few years saw Wheeler relegated to the substitute’s bench; but he was still regarded as an important member of the team. In 1965 Wexford faced Tipperary in the All-Ireland final once again. Of all their meetings in recent years this proved to be the most one-sided. Wheeler came on as a substitute, Tipp won easily with two unorthodox hand-passed goals by Seán McLoughlin. Tipp also scored seven unanswered points in the last quarter to win the game by 2-16 to 0-10. This was Wheeler’s last appearance for Wexford as he retired immediately after the defeat.
Wheeler also lined out with Leinster in the inter-provincial hurling competition. He won his first Railway Cup medal in 1954 as Leinster defeated Munster. Wheeler won further Railway Cup medals in 1956 and 1964.
|Wexford Senior Hurling Captain
- "1955 Wexford" (PDF). Leinster GAA. Retrieved 31 October 2010.