It was Christmas morning all over again for a couple of clubs in New York last week as the annual ritual that is the transfer season passed on.
The Galway hurling club and Cavan football side were the big winners. Cavan received five transfers, with Eugene O’Hagan leaving Down to return to the side that he originally played for in New York.
Tom Hardwick moves from Donegal and immediately gives them a bona fide midfielder -- if he can steer clear of injury. Shane Russell also returns to Cavan after a one-year leave of absence, during which he snagged an intermediate title with Roscommon.
For the Tribesmen Darren Reilly, who hails from Loughrea, is a major coup. Capable of midfield or as a man marker against a weekend player, he gives them steel and skill immediately.
Offaly captain of 2009 Donie Broderick also arrives with Liam Butler, as the Faithful lost heavily. Broderick is a roving wing forward who will slot in perfectly.
Others who won were Armagh, which has four new arrivals, with Eddie Greenan an automatic at number six, although they did lose Connor Hunter to Dublin in what amounts to a swap for Shane Moore, with Dublin coming out ahead.
Akin to the reality show The Biggest Loser was Down. O’Hagan, Sheamie Kelly, Paul Higgins and James Mitchell all left for other pastures, with Mitchell spending just one year in the red shirt. He signed from Leitrim last year, won a championship and returns to Leitrim -- with the Midas touch, they hope.
Higgins played little at the tail end of the year, but a club hates to lose players as they are a hot commodity.
St. Barnabas was hot on Down’s heels with four players headed out the door. Eddie Greenan, Mark Downes, who heads for Donegal and the Garvey brothers all signed on the dotted line.
Both Garveys had injuries last season, but if they can stay healthy they are the steals of the transfer window.
Declan can slot in basically anywhere from two to nine. His first game in New York was as a forward when he lined out for New York in Boston before he had played a club game if I'm not mistaken. Impressive credentials.
He will fit in with the No Name Gang that will have to get a new title this season. They achieved far too much last season to fly under the radar from now on.
Brother Ronan still has one of the best left pegs this side of the pond. He can leave it on your palms from 50 yards.
Still too early to rank senior sides after this upheaval, but the draft night that is ahead on March 18 will give far more input to the senior and Intermediate clubs.
Here are the transfers: Shane Moore, Dublin to Armagh; Shane McKeever, Roscommon to Armagh; Eddie Greenan, St. Barnabas to Armagh; Michael McCarthy, Cork to Armagh; Eugene O’Hagan, Down to Cavan; Seamus Kelly, Down to Cavan; Shane Russell, Roscommon to Cavan; Tom Hardwick, Donegal to Cavan.
Daragh Smith, Roscommon to Cavan; Tommy Gee, Leitrim to Celtics; Paul Higgins, Down to Cork; John Fitzpatrick, Offaly to Cork; Mark Downes, St. Barnabas to Donegal; Anthony Kelly, Offaly to Donegal; Nicky Dineen, Cork to Down; Conor Hunter, Armagh to Dublin; Martin Leahy, Tipperary to Galway; Liam Butler, Offaly to Galway; Darren Reilly, Offaly to Galway; Donal Broderick; Offaly to Galway.
Finbar Flood, Mayo to Kerry; Martin O’Connor, Cavan to Kerry; James Mitchell, Down to Leitrim; Liam Clifford, Kerry to Mayo; Mossie Dore, Kerry to Mayo; Kieran Potter, Cork to Mayo; Michael Creegan, St. Raymond’s to Mayo; Robert O’Neill, Rangers to Monaghan; Gary Donoghue, Cork to Rangers; Thomas Fennell, FDNY to Rockland.
Austin Cunningham, Mayo to Roscommon; Steven Gomez, Dublin to St. Raymond’s, Ronan Garvey, St. Barnabas to Tyrone; Declan Garvey, St. Barnabas to Tyrone; Peter Kelly, St. Raymond’s to Tyrone; Vinny Gavin, Offaly to Westmeath; Raymond Keenan, Offaly to Westmeath.
Divisions Have a New Look
The New York GAA divisions will have a new look in the new season. While teams play with championships at stake, relegation a fear and competition the goal, New York has a new skyline for the 2010 season.
First, the senior division will have eight teams competing – last year’s champs Down, beaten finalists Cork, Leitrim and Tyrone, who bowed out at the semifinal stage last year, and Cavan and Kerry, who both played in the quarters. Rounding out the eight are Sligo and Donegal.
Four Provinces have been told that they cannot play in New York from now on and must return to the City of Brotherly Love, Philadelphia, while last year’s intermediate winners Roscommon are not moving up to the seniors, but instead will stay put.
The championship will have seven games for each team, with a knockout competition (which badly needs a name) also projected to take place.
The Roscommon scenario is unsettling as the club won both the John Brady Knockout and Charlie Sweeney Championship last year. They were the class of the division when the playoffs arrived for both trophies.
The club submitted a letter last week to say that they would not be able to compete at the senior level this season. This was due to both the lack of players and the commitments financially that playing at the highest level would necessitate.
The letter to the board was called out of order by the chairman Larry McCarthy, but a motion from the floor by the delegates was passed to allow them to stay in the chase for the intermediate championship.
It is worth noting that the problems Roscommon have are very real, and it is always in the best interest of the clubs to help them to stay active.
The rulebook which was under scrutiny at the rules convention just two weeks ago took another hit, however. It lives on a year to year basis and is certainly not the law, but a scroll that is used for reference only.
Following hard on the heels of Roscommon were the reversal of two transfers from this past month, with another on hold. The rule says the players show in person to avoid such controversies, but more on that next week in another rule book fiasco.
On to the intermediate division then. This year nine teams will vie for the crown, eaten semifinalists Astoria and Dublin, Armagh, Rangers, who took home the junior crown and move up to this level, Kerry, last season’s runners up Offaly, Brooklyn/Long Island, Mayo and of course Roscommon.
Traditionally the toughest division to win, there are at least seven come playoff time that could go all the way.
The new division has a new board with Terry Connaughton (Roscommon) the chair, John Phelan, (Rangers) the vice chair, and Seamus Collins (Mayo) the secretary and rep to the schedule.
Kudos to the men for stepping forward for their jobs, but alarming that no new blood is stepping forward in roles. All clubs in this division are invited to a meeting this Thursday to sort out their schedule. Bring a copy of proposed schedule for all the delegates at 7:30 at the Riverdale Steakhouse.
For the juniors there is some new blood on the way. Hold-overs from last year are Rockland, St. Barnabas, Donegal, FDNY, Monaghan and Celtics.
Tyrone is coming in with a junior side to supplement their senior one. It’s fantastic to see them hold on to the fringe senior players by setting up a second team.
Westmeath are back with a junior side. New York PRO Joan Henchy said, “It’s brilliant to see them return. They were a huge asset to the association in both hurling and football in the last three decades.
“We also have Setanta from upstate slated to join the juniors, and on the heels of Tyrone’s announcement it will make for a competitive division.” Donie O’Sullivan is the chair for 2010.
Moving to Ireland
After living in Ireland for almost one year, this is what I’ve learned