New York GAA report: Breakthrough moment for Connie Molloy and his NY team
Only his second year at the helm, Molloy gets the bugs out and has a game plan in place
In the history annals discussion always centers around when the breakthrough came for clubs and counties.
For the mainstays -- Kilkenny, Kerry, Tipperary and Cork -- it was 100 or more years ago. For Galway hurling 1975 was a huge stepping stone, and 1991 to 1994 brought Ulster football into the driving force that it is today.
For manager Connie Molloy and his New York panel, the time is now. In his second year at the helm Molloy has had time to get the bugs out and have a game plan in place for the task at hand.
No stranger to tough tasks, his own club had a 59-year barren spell before they annexed the Donegal club title in 1980 after a loss in the final the year before. Molloy was man of the match on that glorious day.
On the Donegal panel at the time, he came to the U.S. in the early 1980s and played in Boston before lining out for New York in one of their most famous victories, the Gael Linn Cup title victory in 1983 in Ireland.
“There were some fantastic footballers on that team, Billy Morgan Aiden Wiseman, Sean Jones, Vincent Dennehy and John Brady to name a few. All were powerful players,” Molloy said during a conversation at Gaelic Park on a night of training recently.
Training is not the problem for New York as everyone knows; it is the lack of games that hurts.
“We have been training since before Christmas with the availability of a gym given to the players this year,” Molloy remarked.
Training under the tutelage of Mickey Coleman, a former All-Ireland winner, has been intense, and in a recent challenge match against a Cavan/New York combo side the fitness levels were very prominent.
With 33 players on the New York panel at the moment, including a number of American-born ones, full-fledged trail matches have been useful, and the battle for the final 15 slots will be a difficult one.
The number of former county panelists from Ireland on the New York squad this year is impressive, and the obstacle for Leitrim or its like is one that they have faced many times before.
Conor Lynam (Westmeath), Alan Raftery (Galway), Rory Woods (Monaghan), Lonan McGuire (New York), CJ Molloy (New York), Jason Kelly (Offaly) and Justin Burke (Galway) are all seasoned players at underage and senior level and give the New York side a center axis that will be prepared to play and run with the wolves.
The inter-link play of Kelly and Raftery will be vital. Both strong ball carriers, they can read the game and pin point passes to the inside lines. Kieran Scally is also a very positive wing back who loves to put the other side back on its heels with his speed.
The best form of defense is offense someone once said, and this side is built on possession and pressure. Gavin Joyce is a quality goaltender who reminds of Evan Byrne.
Mike Regan and Donnacha O’Dwyer are both viable options for the three slot, with tenacious defenders McGuire, Paul Lamb and Darren Jackson very capable wing men.
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