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Pat Nolan: Legendary Wexford Goalkeeper


Pat Nolan from Oylegate - Glenbrien, Co. Wexford, took over between the posts from a legendary goalkeeper who was known wherever hurling was played. To step in to this mantle and follow Art Foley’s footsteps was an awesome task. Wexford hurling was perched at its crown of greatness and the All Ireland champions of 1955, were hailed as the new aristocrats of hurling perfection.


In 1956 Wexford swept through Leinster beating arch rivals, Kilkenny in the provincial final on a scoreline of Wexford 4 - 8 Kilkenny 3 - 9, a mere two point margin. Pat Nolan was now challenging Art Foley for the No.1 jersey and was the substitute goalkeeper for the 1956 All Ireland final, winning his first Celtic Cross. He remained on the bench until the great goalie decided to emigrate in the late 1950s.

As Kilkenny again resumed command of Leinster in 1957, Wexford suffered a severe defeat in the provincial final 6 - 9 to 1 - 5. Pat Nolan finally became the No.1 choice for the 1958 Leinster campaign as Kilkenny again emerged victorious by 5 - 12 to 4 - 9 but Wexford were rebuilding in the trenches.

In 1960 the Model hurlers won out in Leinster, beating Kilkenny in the final 3 - 10 to 2 - 11 and Wexford were back in the All Ireland final. Wexford’s opponents were the rapidly emerging all action force of Tipperary, who were breeding a whole new generation of legendary hurlers. Tipp came to Croke Park with their confidence sky high, but came up against a team who did not concede one goal in a memorable match. Pat Nolan’s commanding performance allowed Wexford to plot a fluent victory on a scoreline of 2 - 15 to 0 – 11.

Pat played in three more All Ireland finals - 1962 - defeat to Tipperary 3 - 10 to 2 - 11; 1965 - defeat to Tipperary 2 - 16 to 0 - 10 and 1970 when a rampantCork scored 6 - 21 to 5 - 10 in the first eighty minute final. In between (1968) Wexford and Pat Nolan had exacted very sweet revenge over Kilkenny in the Leinster final by 3 - 13 to 4 - 9 and were through to meet Tipperary once again in an All Ireland final. On September 1 st at Croke Park, Wexford beat the Premier men 5 - 8 to 3 - 12 and Pat had now claimed his third All Ireland senior hurling medal.

He also won National League medals in 1958; 1967 and 1973 and three Railway Cup medals. Many Wexford hurling experts state, that Pat Nolan was their greatest goalkeeper ever and his retirement in 1974 at the age of thirty seven, brought a glorious and colourful career to its grand terminus.


Derry JF Doody

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