HURLING IN THE SEASIDE PARISH OF BLACKWATER CAN BE TRACED BACK TO BEFORE THE 1798 REBELLION. LOCAL LORE AND VERSE DEMONSTRATES THE AREA AS “A HIVE OF GAELIC ACTIVITY.
George Sparks, a local protestant landlord leader of the Blackwater men in 1798 was known for hunting and also playing ball (hurling). In the 1850’s a game was described between Ballyvalloo and Castlebridge as being very rough, Ballyvalloo winning the day.
However, hurling lived on despite its haphazard organisation. It came as no surprise that with the advent of the Gaelic Athletic Association in 1884, Blackwater was one of the first clubs to be established in County Wexford.
Ballyvaldon GFC were affiliated with Wexford GAA in December 1886 as a gaelic football team but it was the Blackwater hurlers who established the area as a powerhouse of hurling around that era, affiliating in 1887. This was no more evident than in the first organised tournament in Wexford on the 27th January 1889. At Crosstown, they defeated neighbours Oulart to win the Wexford County tournament. Later that year (15th September 1889) they once again accounted for Oulart in the County Tournament Final at Ferns (1890 Tournament). They defeated their neighbours Ballyvaldon, Oulart and Castlebridge en-route to the final. In 1891 Blackwater were invited to play the 1887 All Ireland Champions – Thurles Sarsfields at Clonturk Park, Dublin in March 1891 with the match being anbondoned before the end with Blackwater leading,
Denis Whelan in 1939 discussing Thurles game from 1891″
I got up at 4 in the morning to train for the match and looked across the fields in Ballinagore and Crosshue to see the Murphy’s already running around the fields.
Blackwater (Ballyvaldon) captured the County Senior title again in 1898 and on this occasion (after Crosstown gave Blackwater a walkover in the final), they grabbed the opportunity to represent their County. Blackwater won Leinster and reached the All Ireland Final losing to a Horse & Jockey selection from Tipperary
Injury problems beset the Blackwater men and with the injury of a third player; they did not have a substitute to finish the match. The final score was Tipperary 3-12 to Blackwater’s 1-4. An estimated crowd of 4,000 were in attendance. Blackwater wore black and amber jerseys for the game.
In 1903, a Leinster title was annexed again against Offaly and this time we made it to the 1901 All Ireland Home Final. The 1901 All-Ireland campaign was ran over three years, 1901, 1902 and 1903. As a gesture to the exiled hurlers, London received a bye to the official All-Ireland final where they played the winners of the ‘home’ final, this was to be contested by the winners of Leinster, Ulster, Munster and Connacht championship. On the 14th June 1903 in the ‘Home’ Final, these brave men were defeated by Redmonds of Cork on a scoreline of 2-08 to 0-6 in Carrick-an-Suir. Blackwater had to play the second half with only 16 men as one of their players was sent off. Redmonds went on to lose the final to London, who captured the All-Ireland Hurling title for their first and only time.
For the next thirty years, the hurlers of Blackwater were in the doldrums as far as winning county championships were concerned. Political instability of the ‘teens and twenties and the economic depression of the thirties did little to boast the development of gaelic pastimes.
However, the games were carried on and the thirties were to see Blackwater rise almost Phoenix-like to become a hurling force in Wexford once more when in 1936 they emerged as County Junior Hurling Champions.
In 1936 “the sons of twice Leinster’s best men” defeated Killinck in Wexford Park to capture the long overdue County Junior Hurling championship.
Twenty one years and one generation later (1957) Blackwater were once again County Junior Hurling Champions. The final, played on 4th May 1958 at Bellefield, saw Blackwater defeat St. Brennan’s Davidstown 5-3 to 0-5.
The sixties was a barren spell for the club even though they were defeated by St. Martin’s in 1963 County Junior Hurling final. It wasn’t until 1975 that the golden days returned. Once again Blackwater annexed the Junior Hurling Championship by defeating St. Patrick’s Ballyoughter at Bellefield.
1981 was the year when Blackwater won its first adult county title in football. This time the County Junior Football Title was secured by accounting for Kilrush in Wexford Park.
The twenty-first century began a new era and in 2001 Blackwater brought home the first Junior Hurling Title of the new century and then in 2008 returned to the senior ranks defeating Rathnure after a replay. With this title, the footballers followed suit in 2009 winning a Junior title.