New York’s first appearance in the Connacht semifinal came to naught as they were comprehensively beaten by a well-drilled Sligo squad in Markievicz Park on Saturday, April 22 by a score of 2-16 to 0-6.

Indeed, the omens weren’t very favorable to New York from the beginning as the game started under miserable skies with heavy rain and fog, thus making for heavy under-foot conditions that New York were not accustomed to.

Connacht Champoonship (Final Score) NYGAA 0-6 (6)
Sligo 2-16 (22) #nygaa
Not to be!

— Newyorkgaa (@NewYorkGAA) April 22, 2023

In the opening few minutes, Sligo monopolized possession, hitting two wides in as many minutes. It was over three minutes before New York got the ball into the Sligo half of the field. 

Still, New York managed a scoring opportunity after Shane Brosnan was fouled, but keeper Michael Cunningham’s 50-yard free from close to the sideline was narrowly wide. From the resulting kickout, Sligo bagged their first score as keeper Daniel Lyons found Brian Cox, who quickly released the ball to a speeding Pat Spillane. He off-loaded to O’Connor to goal after five minutes. 

A minute later, Johnny Glynn got a yellow card for a robust tackle on winger Luke Towey, and Sean Carrabine further penalized the indiscretion with a pointed free.

On 10 minutes, Sligo looked set to goal again as a slick interchange between Niall Murphy and Patrick O’Connor ended with a timely intervention by Alan Campbell as O’Connor was about to the pull the trigger. 

New York finally got on the scoreboard after 12 minutes as Adrian Varley struck a fine point. A minute later, after some fine fetching by Glynn, New York looked set to equalize as Gavin O’Brien bored down on goal. However, a slip coupled with a timely intervention by Cox saw a golden opportunity denied to New York. 

Midway, captain Niall Murphy, pointed a free and two minutes later followed with a superb effort from play. A minute later, Varley got New York’s second point with another fine catch by Glynn setting up the chance. 

Sligo were beginning to step up their performance and production as strong running by defender Nathan Mullen was creating opportunities for his front men, leading Carrabine and O’Connor to tap over points. Then O’Brien scored a fine long-range point after New York forced a turnover, but his opponent Cian Lally responded in kind. 

As the period wore down New York created a few chances but failed to convert them. Sligo center-back Paul McNamara finished out the scoring to leave his team ahead by 1-7 to 0-3 at the short whistle. 

On resumption, both sides scored a brace. Spillane picked off a point after a patient build-up, and Murphy opted for a minor when he might have considered a major. 

At the other end, substitute Connell Ahearne made his presence felt with a point and Bill Maher was also on target. Sligo’s next score effectively ended the game as a contest. At the end of field sweeping movement, Murphy unleashed a powerful shot but it was brilliantly parried by keeper Cunningham. However, full forward O’Connor was on hand to usher the ball to the net as the keeper lay prone. 

Sligo were now strutting their stuff in style as Carrabine chipped over a classy point, and Lally added another with Mullen being the supplier. Things went from bad to worse for New York as Robert Wharton was black carded and shortly afterward, Niall Madine was shown red, thus reducing New York to 13 players. Indeed, it seemed the statute of limitations might have saved Madine, such was the time lapse with the alleged off the ball incident with Eddie McGuinness and the delayed referee’s action. 

The game then just fizzled to its inevitable conclusion with late points from Sligo’s Kilcoyne, Murphy, and Towey, while O’Brien was New York’s last scorer. 

Sligo were very deserving winners as they dominated from start to finish. This was their eighth consecutive victory, and obviously their confidence has been further boosted by their promotion to Division 3 of the National League. 

Sadly, New York will be very disappointed that they did not give Sligo a much sterner challenge. However, participation in the Tailteann Cup will give them the opportunity to show that they are a much better team than just the six points that they scored against Sligo, who goes on to meet Galway in the Connacht final in two weeks. 

It was great to see that so many supporters traveled over from New York for the game. The US flags were liberally dispersed amongst the wave of umbrellas. Also, it was great to meet so many former New York players such as Louie Holland, Mike Fitzpatrick, and CJ Molloy among others who traveled great distances to this game. 

Before the game, the Castlerea Brass and Reed Band played “Amhrán na bhFiann,” but there was no Star-Spangled Banner. When I informed my colleagues in the press box that in New York we play both the Irish national anthem and American national anthem when we have a visiting team, I was politely told that the GAA protocol only permits the Irish anthem. 

Another reporter quickly added that we certainly wouldn’t want to play “God Save the Queen” when we play London. I quickly realized I wasn’t going to win this argument as the deck was loaded against me. I am very grateful for the ample refreshments that were afforded us in the press box by the Sligo County Board. 

New York: Michael Cunningham, Jamie Boyle, Alan Campbell, Eoghan Kerin, Bill Maher (0-1), Robert Wharton, Shane Brosnan, Johnny Glynn, Gavin O’Brien (0-2), Mark Ellis, Adrian Varley (0-2), Shane Carthy, Mikey Brosnan, Peter Fox, Daniel O’Sullivan. Subs: Connell Ahearne (0-1) for Mikey Brosnan, Matt Queenan for Peter Fox, Killian Butler for Daniel O’Sullivan, Niall Madine for Shane Carthy, Jack Reilly for Adrian Varley. 

Sligo: Daniel Lyons, Eddie McGuinness, Evan Lyons, Nathan Mullen, Brian Cox, Paul McNamara (0-1), Luke Towey (0-1), Cian Lally (0-2), Paul Kilcoyne (0-1), Keelan Cawley, Sean Carrabine (0-3), Finnian Cawley, Pat Spillane (0-2), Patrick O’Connor (2-1), Niall Murphy (0-5). Subs: Mikey Gordon for Keelan Cawley, Alan Reilly for Patrick O’Connor, Mark Walsh for Pat Spillane, Gerard O’Kelly-Lynch for Finnian Cawley, Joe Keaney for Cian Lally

Referee: Barry Cassidy.

Man of the Match: Patrick O’Connor. 

*This column first appeared in the April 26 edition of the weekly Irish Voice newspaper, sister publication to IrishCentral.