Alan O'Mara, the newly appointed New York GAA manager, says his squad is "really excited" to represent the Irish American community when they take on Mayo in the Connacht Senior Football Championship quarter-final at Gaelic Park this Sunday, April 7.

O'Mara, who was appointed New York manager in December, will take charge of his first game when Mayo comes to town on Sunday.

The Cavan native says his side is "here to compete" despite heading into the game as underdogs, having only won once in the annual match-up.

See New York GAA manager Alan O'Mara's interview with IrishCentral here:

"The lads will do their best for New York GAA," O'Mara told IrishCentral this week.

"Any team I manage when we go to play, we go out to win.

"If it's Mayo coming to town, if it's Kerry, if it's Carlow, if it's Cavan, we prepare to go and do our best.

"We're there to compete." 

O'Mara described Sunday's sold-out match as a "flagship day of the year" for the Irish American community. 

"It's a really big moment on the calendar," O'Mara said. "We're really excited to represent New York, to represent all of the Irish American community." 

O'Mara said his 40-man squad is looking to show everyone what New York GAA is about and how competitive they can be against one of the top sides in the country. 

Mayo ran out 21-point winners when they last traveled to Gaelic Park in 2019, but O'Mara said he is not focused on past results and added that he has "an incredible group of players."

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O'Mara, a former goalkeeper for the Cavan senior football team in Ireland, said playing intercounty football in New York poses different challenges to intercounty football in Ireland. 

Many of O'Mara's squad work in Manhattan and must make the arduous journey up to Gaelic Park in the Bronx on Tuesdays and Thursdays, traveling the entire length of the 1 Subway line. On Sundays, players are tasked with making Gaelic Park for early morning sessions, while each player is tasked with completing his own gym work. 

For young Irish immigrants living in a city as busy as New York, that is no mean feat and their commitment has not gone unnoticed by O'Mara. 

"I'm really proud of the players," he says. "I'm really proud of the work that they've done to this point, which is a very self-motivating journey. It's often not the most glamorous.

"We've been here on days where snow had turned to ice and instead of shoveling snow, we were using a sledgehammer to break up ice to get it off the field." 

O'Mara believes Gaelic games are a crucial part of the Irish immigrant experience in the US, adding that it helps motivate his players to make huge sacrifices each week. 

"It adds so much value to life here," he said. "I genuinely believe our lives are happier and healthier for being here, for being together, for having this thing that unites us, that gives us community. that gives us a place to belong."

He said Sunday's clash with Mayo will be incredibly important for the Irish American community, from the young children who get to play on the field at halftime to the 90-year-old Irish immigrant who has been coming to Gaelic Park for the past 50 years. 

"Our team serves a lot of people and gives them a great source of pride and we're proud to represent them. We're a very diverse group," O'Mara said, adding that his squad boasts a healthy mix of Irish immigrants and American-born players. 

Tickets for Sunday's Connacht Senior Football Championship quarter-final in Gaelic Park are sold out, but the New York - Mayo showdown will be streamed on GAAGO.