The New York Ladies GAA semifinals are on this Sunday at Gaelic Park in the Bronx, and they promise to provide some of the closest games and thrilling encounters in years. Fermanagh, Kerry/Donegal, Cavan and Na Fianna face off after a regular season where the results were close, exciting and varied which leads all to believe that this weekend’s games should not be missed. Ladies chairperson Rosie O’Reilly Broderick was exuberant when we spoke to her regarding the upcoming games.
“In years gone by you could say that such and such has the edge but not this year. It is a level pegging across the field after some very exciting games with both semifinals too close to call.” stated the Lavey, Co. Cavan native.
Na Fianna is the defending champion and they square off against championship title leaders Cavan in what promises to be a tremendous outing.
“We are very excited to have Mags Doherty from Wexford who actually reffed the All-Ireland junior final replay between New York and Wicklow, available to ref the games on Sunday.” added O’Reilly Broderick.
In the event of a draw in any of the games, there will be a replay with the final scheduled for August 4.
Semifinal one is set for this Sunday at 5:30 p.m. and will pit Cavan against Na Fianna. Close rivals down through the last half dozen years, there battles have been down to the wire on many an occasion.
This season Cavan won the first league meeting on their way to the league crown, while Na Fianna took the points in the rematch while also beating their rivals in the Anne Kearney semifinal. Na Fianna won the Sean Faherty in 2012 while Cavan were the 2011 champions.
Cavan’s main stars this year have been perennial superstar Emma Clarke and Sarah Murphy from Galway. Both are lethal forwards who will take serious attention.
The midfield pairing of Vivian McCormack and Kate Byrne are both inter county for Meath and have had superb seasons, while Aoife O’Rourke was part of the brilliant victory in 11 and solidifies the back line where Mary Naughton from Breaffy in Mayo has had an excellent season.
Both sides are littered with American-born players which shows the tremendous work being done at the underage levels in the Big Apple. Look for Caitlin Hynes, keeper Nora Kilkenny and Mairead Ruane to all have leading roles in Sunday’s game for Cavan.
Na Fianna are gunning for two in a row, and this year’s side while finishing tied for third in the league nonetheless come into the semifinal as a very dangerous outfit.
Katrina Lynch, Joanne Monaghan and Sinead Farrelly anchor the back line. Farrelly is an excellent footballer who dominates. Margaret Brady is one of their American-born players who is growing into a bona fide star. She will probably man one of the center filed slots with Aine Dwyer, while further American players who will play a big part are Stephanie Tierney, Brianna Tierney and Kelly McCormack who are now seasoned campaigners despite their young ages.
Aoife Herbert from Mayo and Deirdre Brennan from Galway are both brilliant forwards who can turn a game on its edge with their scoring ability and they will keep the Cavan back line on their toes for the hour. They may need a replay to separate these squads.
The second semifinal is set for 7 p.m. on Sunday and will feature Fermanagh against Kerry/Donegal, the new Anne Kearney champions.
In the last outing between the sides, Kerry/Donegal won by the slimmest of margins, one point to show their tremendous improvement this season. Fermanagh and Na Fianna were tied for third and a toss of a coin seeded the teams in the semis.
For K/D, the star again has been Cathriona Brady who has returned to the field in outstanding form. She has plenty of help this year in Niamh Britton, Aoife Gill and Ellen Cleary. Cleary is an astute ball carrier who puts sides back on their heels.
Up front the main scoring comes from Kilkenny’s Marie Dargan. She had a Shefflin like total of 6-2 in the Kearney Cup final. Denise Dunnion is no stranger to huge totals also and must be watched, while Collette McGoldrick is having a very good season. Ailish Gannon from Galway and Mayo's Kelly Keating who may be in the middle with Brady are others who will influence the encounter.
Fermanagh, after a couple of down seasons, are right back in the mix. Ronan McGinley and Barry McElduff are involved which brings a lot of football and winning experience to the equation.
Tracey Ann McCullough and Clare McElroy are dominant in the rearguard. The clash of McCullough and Dargan will be worth the admission alone. Shauna Ryan and Louise Reilly add huge strength to the side for the summer with Laura Lee McCullough, Tracey’s sister, an exceptional footballer.
Loretta Cunningham is a proven forward who knows the way to goal while Caroline Murphy is another dangerous player with ball in hand.