On a beautiful April evening, New York came away with a 12-point win, 1-16 to 0-7, over a determined but overmanned Boston side.
The visitors arrived into New York without two players from Wolfe Tones and Connemara Gaels who were involved in the Cavan seven a side competition side on Sunday, but still gave the hosts fits for long periods.
When all was said and done just a few New Yorkers added to their reputations in a game that raised more questions than answers.
Certainly Boston is to be commended for coming to the Mecca to play New York. Games are what the home side need as they prepare for Roscommon in the Connaught Championship on the first Sunday in May.
New York started the game particularly slow. With 13 minutes gone in the outing the sides were level at two points a piece, with Colm McGrory grabbing the pair of Boston scores while Damien O’Boyle and Kevin McGeeney had the New York points.
McGeeney could have had more with his effort after a ball out of defense by Aiden Power reached Dan Doona. The captain passed on to CJ Molloy, who freed the Armagh man. His shot was the wrong side of the bar, however.
Boston came perilously close to getting the first three pointer of the game two minutes later when a full field move ended with Niall Mallon joining the attack, and Alan Hearty making an excellent stop to deny him.
Boston was continuously able to move the ball up the field from their own 21 to the New York 30. Time and again the last pass was intercepted, with Paul Lambe, Aiden Power and Rory Stafford influential.
New York had their third point on 17 minutes and then put a scoring burst of 1-5 together, with sub Jason Kelly having a very effective influence on the proceedings. He had the goal when a long ball in from Rory
Stafford was won by Molloy, and he laid off to a storming Kelly who drilled to the net.
Molloy had three of the points in the mix, with all coming from frees after he was fouled.
By this stage Boston had lost a very good defender, Owen O’Neill, with a horrible arm injury as best we could tell, and in his absence Francie Cleary had the final two New York scores of the half that sandwiched a Gearoid O’Connor point after a good build up to leave the interval 1-9 to 0-3 for New York.
The home side started to make a host of changes just before the halftime break and at the interval, and it showed as Boston had a glorious goal chance in the first minute.
Gary Lowney was in the nets and he had to very alert to deny a marauding Brian Kelly. McCrory had the fourth Boston point before Molloy was pulled down at the other end for a penalty. Doona stepped up but shot low and wide a foot past the post.
The sides added two each to their totals over the next 10 minutes, but in fairness New York were looking scattered due to all the changes.
Robbie Tasker, the former Armagh minor star, arrived off the bench and had a brace of points. He was thinking goal for one before he returned to the sideline due to an injury. He certainly showed in his cameo that he has undoubted talent.
The winners added four more points over the last 20 minutes, but got two further frights in front of goal.
Philip Toner blasted wide from in front of goal on one occasion and followed it with a blazing point when again he had the goal at his mercy.
Brian Cullinane was the third New York keeper to get called into goal saving action when he stopped a Kevin Curran shot before the end.
New York should look at the performances of the keepers in two lights. While the kick outs did not bring consistency or result in the required 75 % gains -- you need that at this level -- the saves they made, all three, had the combination getting man of the match honors. If a couple of them went in the game could have been very interesting. As it was all three came up trumps. Rory Stafford had most minutes on the evening and is in the best shape of his career. Aiden Power did nothing wrong; the two aforementioned changed positions and both looked comfortable. Against a big man Staff may be better suited to three with Rabbit at six.
Brendan McGourty did a lot of good work and had two excellent scores. Midfield had a number of players in the area. The three O’Connors were on at different times; Kenny went off injured after a brief period while Adrian also retired with a leg injury.
Paddy Kelly showed well but was very lucky to stay on the field. He took a couple of swings at a Boston player (he did play up there last year) and how Irish ref Sean McHale missed it is nothing short of amazing. That being said Kelly certainly looks an intercounty player.
The other Kelly, J as he now has become, was superb. He has a tremendous change of speed, assisted throughout at the defensive and offensive ends while also grabbing 1-1.
Tasker and Seamus Toner, who also was very calm on the ball, were others to show prominently. CJ Molloy did well at full forward, but in fairness the Boston full back was left on him far too long with Molloy's height advantage exploited to the fullest.
Boston will look forward to a rematch and a full home panel in Canton.
Boston: 1 Liam Mailly, 2 Niall Mallon, 3 John O’Brian, 4 Owen O’Neill, 5 Niall Kerr, 6 Martin Bogue, 7 Sean Gallagher, 8 Tony Walsh, 9 Philip Toner (0-2) 10 Dan Redden, 11 Paraic O’Donoghue, 12 Kevin Curran, 13 Colm McCrory (0-4), 14 Brian Kelly, 15 Gearoid O’Connor (0-1). Subs: Rockie Ivors.
New York: 1 Alan Hearty, 2 Paul Lambe, 3 Rory Stafford, 4 Ronan McGinley, 5 John McGoldrick, 6 Aiden Power, 7 Brendan McGourty (0-2), 8 Adrian O’Connor (0-1), 9 Pat Madden, 10 Kevin McGeeney (0-1), 11 Damien O’Boyle (0-1), 12 Robert Gayner, 13 Francie Cleary (0-2), 14 CJ Molloy (0-3), 15 Dan Doona (0-1). First half subs: Jason Kelly (1-1), Paddy Kelly, Paul McDaid, Owen McCruver. Second half: James Connolly (0-1), Seamus Toner (0-1), Joe Bell, Kenny O’Connor, Brian Cullinane, Gary Lowney, Robbie Tasker (0-2), Sean McNamee, Conor Hogan, Jeff Farrell, Paul Cahill, Conor Morgan, Rory O’Connor.
Referee: Sean McHale (Mayo).
Impossible to tell if all the names are correct. You don’t like to bother management teams when the game is on, but no one from the board could give the press correct info.
The amount of new names impresses but also creates the question -- where are all the lads who have played in New York over the last two years?
One glaring statistic? Only three U.S.-born players out of the 30 odd. James Huvane is injured so that would make four.
With sides going to England, Ireland and CYC’s for the last five years surely more should or could be on the panel.