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The New York all-star side that lost badly to Leitrim in the Connaught Championship. Photo by: Margaret Purcell

For New York GAA, 2013 was a season of highs and lows

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The New York all-star side that lost badly to Leitrim in the Connaught Championship. Photo by: Margaret Purcell

Last year flew by, it seems, as one looks back on the highs and lows in New York GAA terms. With crescendos for New York sides across the water, including the college/21 side in England and the hurling squad in Ireland at the adult level, the locals sandwiched a hugely disappointing performance versus Leitrim in the Connaught Championship. 

The club scene also had a brilliant ending for Monaghan, Kerry and St. Barnabas to name a few, while the hurling scene brought wins and losses in both the courtroom and the field.

New York has been very successful in England as they send combination squads across the pond for the British universities championships each spring. After sides managed by Danny Hannon started the annual trip by representing the tristate area with excellent performances, including player of the tournament honors, the Eamonn Deane-managed side of 2013 finally brought home silverware in February.

The season here then started, with the senior league preempting the Connaught Championship encounter with Leitrim. An easy Leitrim win by 4-19 to New York’s 0-7 was hugely disappointing, however.

The weakest side of the five home based counties by many people’s reckoning left New York in a state of shock. Following the cancellation of the FBD contest in 2012 it left questions in the hundred.

Challenges are needed, but when and where? To hear that the FBD contest in October was again cancelled was the proverbial kick in the teeth to the community here.

Where New York stands in the eyes of Connaught and the GAA is now the question. How the New York board allowed this to happen also is a huge bone of contention. Fool me once shame on you — fool me twice shame on me.

New York needs games, and it needs all its players looking to join the county panel. The winners of the All-Ireland club championship must be enticed to Gaelic Park. Buy the flights now, ask each club to sponsor one ticket — aren’t they all sponsoring five in the summer?  Get two games against a Dr. Crokes or a Crossmaglen and you have a start.
 
Staying with the senior squad, the winning Kerry manager Ian Galvin was given the New York manager position when Connie Molloy’s term ended; read separate interview for more.

New enthusiasm needs to be nurtured, and as much help as possible with a number of players staying in New York to help their new color’s cause. It won’t be easy in May with Mayo arriving, but let’s keep it positive. 

The club season was interesting from a senior football standpoint in a variety of ways.  One was the fact that the public never caught on to it despite the close to couple dozen county players that arrived. Crowds were small, with a close look needed to entice the audience for the coming season.

After a number of seesaw results, Donegal and Kerry faced off in one semifinal, while Leitrim and Cavan met in the other. Cork were unlucky not to get a slot but lost to Kerry in a pivotal contest.

Despite a team that had close to 15 former or current county players, both here and in Ireland, Leitrim made hard work of getting by Cavan. Indeed if Cavan had a full squad things may have been different.

That said, Leitrim headed to the county final looking for four in a row where they had a rematch with Kerry, who scraped by Donegal in a semi that went to overtime.  Player of the year contender Brian O’Connor bowed out, but not before numerous brilliant performances.

The rematch was set then, but it was anti-climatic. Kerry had a host of stars in a team-orientated performance, not least of which was Paddy Kelly who was outstanding before he received his marching orders.  Mike Jim and O’Donaghue were outstanding, while Leitrim lost three players over the hour to red cards, but in hindsight were never close enough as players like Bradshaw, McPartland and Woods never hit previous heights. 

At the intermediate level Monaghan were the conquering force. They won both the league and championship and with their huge panel were too strong for all.

Sean Kelly was their player of the year, but others such as Paul Lamb, Lonan Maguire and Justin Burke all played pivotal roles.

St. Barnabas duplicated their success at the junior level when they took home both titles while also adding the under-21 trophy. The league win was by the skin of their teeth when Conor Hogan punched a goal at the wire. Their side was backboned by at least 12 American born starters, a tremendous achievement.

In the junior B tournament Longford and Manhattan Gaels both took home titles, with Longford moving up a division after their brilliant win.

In hurling circles, the year started with Offaly winning the Brendan Keane seven a side cup. It was to prove to be a lone success, however, as they never got going in championship fare and were outside looking in at playoff stage.

It was here that the music started to play. Galway got to the final after an excellent regular season when Liam Butler, Martin Dolphin and Richie Gaule led the way, while Tipperary and the newly minted Long Island Gaels side met in the semifinal.

At the end of a titillating hour Long Island had a slim victory on the scoreboard. It was not over, however, as the result then headed to the boardroom with objections and defenses set in place.

Finally at the 12th hour Tipp were awarded the victory when a Long Island player was deemed to be ineligible. They then headed to the final to face the Tribesmen.

In a thrilling encounter Tipperary, with Brian O’Meara and Shane Maher brilliant, edged out a nail-biting victory, although Galway in hindsight may feel they left it behind.

In the junior division the newly minted Ulster side was victorious. Alan Gleason and Brian McNaughton were at the helm and they had a deep squad with Maurice Callinan and Peter Hatzer leading the way. Matt Cashman was another star while Rory Woods (the footballer) made a huge difference in the final against Hoboken.

Paul Loughnane and Darren Coffey led the Jersey boys but missed frees at the end which allowed Ulster to hang on for a one point victory.

Special mention to Rockland, who gave the champions a huge scare in the semi with Chris Dalton’s charges nearly swinging it.

If hindsight is 20/20 then the hurling division needs all its sides back next year. The four team top division was a huge step forward, while the junior sides all had positive moments.

Granted it is difficult to police at that level, but no one seems to get hurt in the mix and the cream usually comes to the top.

One of the most positive experiences of the year for the hurlers and for New York was the performances of the New York side when they travelled to Ireland to take part in the International Festival. They acquitted themselves marvelously and reached the shield final after brilliant results versus the rest of Britain and San Francisco in the group games.

Losses through injury of captain Paul Loughnane and Danny Breen were tremendous setbacks, however, and an excellent Australia side had too many weapons in the decider.

The New York panel for the tournament was Stephen Delaney, Matt Cashman, Richie Gaule, Paul Sweeney, Richie Hartnett, Paul Loughnane, Kevin McKay, Darren Coffey, Brian Glynn, Ger Kelly, David Hallinan, Danny Breen, Fintan Meehan, Pat Egan, Donie Broderick, Padraig Kyne, Mike Maher, Enda O’Connor, Stephen Moroney, Rob Lowrey, John Power and Ger Crowe. 

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