With 2011 still front and center in the rearview mirror, the New York GAA starts its 98th year of its existence with some new and old names in positions of authority.
It also has some big decisions to make with Gaelic Park, specifically its pub and restaurant one of the main ones. Also, the New York manager job may well be awarded by the time of writing.
In the past six weeks a number of elections took place. The chairman’s job was a close battle in the first weeks of this past December, with outgoing vice chair Brendan O’Sullivan (Limerick) losing out to Liam Bermingham (Kildare).
This is Bermingham’s second time in charge in New York -- he served a two year stint in the early 2000s. His victory was by five votes, 29-24, with five votes not cast. O’Sullivan was a long time officer in New York in a variety of positions. Lawrence McGrath (Donegal) won the vice chairman position with a mirror image vote over Tommy Fahey (Waterford) and now steps up from the senior football chair job to the second in charge role.
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Mary Murphy (New York and Mayo) defeated Joan Henchy (New York and Kerry) by a slimmer margin 28-25 in the only other election at the board of officer’s level. Henchy had served as PRO in the last year after a number of years as vice secretary, but now finds herself looking in from the outside.
Murphy now resides in Philadelphia, but she has been a constant presence as registrar and vice secretary in recent years.
In the New York football and hurling divisions, the top positions were put in place. Junior football still has Donie O’Sullivan in charge as the rep from Celtics. Monaghan were the junior champions last season and they now move on to the Intermediate level.
As they do one of their delegates, Seamus Dooley, steps in as the chairman of that division, taking over from Terry Connaughton. A tremendous amount of experience in the lower levels.
The senior football division has a new man in charge with Armagh’s Mark McAllister taking over from Lawrence McGrath. Armagh is in their second year returning to the senior ranks, and McAllister is immediately stepping up to the plate in a group that needs some TLC.
It will have seven teams this season, with the returning six of Leitrim, Cavan, Tyrone, Armagh, Cork, and Kerry, while Dublin join the ranks after winning the intermediate title last year.
One of the major talking points at this early juncture is the time when the senior football final is played and the availability of the summer players for this.
There is already a meeting called for this week to bring all the clubs together, which shows that the new chair Bermingham is on the right track already. He is a former selector with the New York senior team and a delegate for his club for years.
Junior hurling has installed former player and mentor Jo Jo Sullivan as their chairman in the second year back for the returning division. Sullivan hurled at all levels in New York and also has reffed both levels.
His exuberance and experience bodes well for the division that has four teams contesting its title -- Rockland, the Bronx, Hoboken and Shannon Gaels.
The senior hurling division with Eddie Gowran at the post will again have three teams battling. Galway and Tipperary will be doing their best to stop Offaly grabbing their sixth title in a row.
The final major position still open at time of writing, and possibly at the second interview stage at time of reading, is the post of New York senior football team manager.
Seamus Sweeney from Philadelphia’s Four Provinces is the outgoing manager, but he is being challenged by three others for the title as New York braces for Sligo in May.
The last time the Yeats Boys arrived the game was a disaster from a New York standpoint -- 2-18 to 1-3 was the scoreline but it was worse than that, if possible.
This time around it would appear after the early Sligo results in the FBD league that they are they for a rattle. May might prove to be the most successful month in decades.
New York’s 2011 year was a dismal disaster after the euphoria of the previous year, with Roscommon defeating the side easily in the championship while Mayo continued the onslaught in the FBD.
Gary Dowd, the former New York player, has his name in the hat for the top job, while Connie Molloy, the former player who was a selector for the last two years, is also in the running.
Eugene Kyne, who was a selector in the Connaught Championship game against Mayo three years ago and also served as a selector against Wicklow, is the fourth contender.
A betting line would probably look like this -- Sweeney even money favorite, Dowd at 2-1, Kyne 5-2 and Molloy 4-1.
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