By Michael Flanagan
Hometown Weekly Sports Editor
Throughout the 2017 season, Walpole’s Darragh Fahey and Robert Colburn were massive difference-makers on the lacrosse field in the Bay State Conference, thanks to Fahey’s incredible versatility and dodging on attack, as well as Colburn’s shut down defensive abilities. Fahey and Colburn helped guide the Rebels to a 17-1 regular season, the No. 1 overall seed in the Division II Central/East playoffs, two playoff victories over Medway (14-8) and Concord-Carlisle (9-3), and a sectional finals appearance (lost 12-11 to Medfield in overtime).
On August 25, Fahey, a rising senior, announced his commitment to play lacrosse at UMass-Boston beginning in 2018. In both the past and the present, UMass-Boston has been a popular destination for former Walpole High lacrosse stars such as Sean O’Connell and Donny Delpha (both WHS class of 2011), and now, Fahey will look to continue the Rebel tradition of suiting up and excelling for the Beacons. Fahey will play alongside former teammate at Walpole, Tommy Wilber (class of 2017), who is entering his freshman year at UMB this fall.
Meanwhile, Colburn, also a rising senior and one of Walpole’s top returning defensive long-poles, announced his commitment to play at Franklin Pierce (Division II) on August 4.
Fahey says he felt UMB was the perfect fit and that knowing where he’ll be attending college next fall is extremely relieving, particularly given all of the pressure that comes with being a senior in high school this time of year.
“I did feel a little nervous, especially since I would see posts on Twitter of other kids committing earlier than me,” said Fahey. “But, every athlete has their own time to decide, and I felt like right now was my time. I felt really comfortable with UMB and it was a great fit academically and athletically for me. It is a great feeling not only knowing where I’m going to school, but knowing I am going to a school where I feel like I can do everything to the best of my abilities.”
The Rebel presence at UMass-Boston both in the past, present, and future is no coincidence, according to Fahey. Playing with Tommy Wilber next season already has Fahey excited, given how close the two have become.
“I think that Walpole has a similar play style to UMB,” said Fahey. “That is why Walpole has had such great players go there. I think Coach Andalo really coached me to come to practice every day and put in my best effort, and after meeting with the team and watching them play, I think they have that same type of mentality. A big influence on me was Tommy Wilber, who was my teammate last year and will be a Beacon this year. I loved playing with him and when I heard he was going there, I saw how much talent head coach Tyler Low was bringing in, and I wanted to be a part of it.”
Colburn’s commitment to Franklin Pierce, meanwhile, came in almost the perfect fashion. On August 4, he was surrounded by family and teammates on the beach following a summer tournament in Marshfield when he received the call: it was all systems go to head to Rindge.
“When I got the news, I was actually hanging with a bunch of the guys on my team down in Marshfield after one of our summer tournaments,” said Colburn. “My mom called me out of the water and told me the news and it was beyond relieving. I had only looked at a few schools so I was kind of behind everyone else in the college process. It was nice knowing that I was done. I am very excited to get on campus. My class is looking extremely strong and we should have a lot of success up there.”
Although last spring left a bit of a sour taste in the mouths of the Rebels following their tough overtime defeat to Medfield in the sectional finals, Fahey says that he, Colburn, and the rest of his teammates are already preparing for a big season in 2018 with high expectations.
“Last season didn’t have the ending that my teammates, coaches, nor I wanted,” said Fahey. “But, I think we made our mark in Division II as a big threat to other teams. Although we lost an outstanding senior class (Jake Hurley, Wilber, etc), I believe that my senior class and the other underclassmen that we have on varsity will play a massive role in our potential success this spring. We are a team that does all the little things well. We don’t have any superstars, but we have guys who will put in the work every day and play as a team, and I think that is what Walpole lacrosse always has and always will represent. I have full confidence in the team this year, and Coach Andalo and the rest of the coaching staff do an incredible job at getting us prepared for the season.”
Colburn agrees with Fahey’s assessment of last season and the expectations heading into 2018, and says that he, along with Fahey and Walpole’s other two due-to-be captains in Ryan Birch and Cullen McGlynn, are ready to take on leadership roles.
“Last year was definitely not the ending we were looking for,” said Colburn. “Especially because of how it happened at the end of the [sectional final] game. We’re expecting a lot of success out of the group we have coming back. We have a good core of guys who saw a lot of time last season and some underclassmen who should be able to make an immediate impact. As captains, I know that myself, Darragh, Ryan [Birch], and Cullen [McGlynn] will be able to get the best out of our team and have a successful tournament run.”
For funny and incisive sports analysis, follow Mike Flanagan on his personal Twitter at @fLAno0, or read his blog at www.flannylive.wordpress.com.