The New York college Gaelic football side is now in Ireland to participate in a higher education tournament as part of the Sigerson Cup weekend. They will be playing at the Carlow IT grounds with a semifinal berth at 1 pm on Friday. They will play TU Dublin, Tallaght campus. 

In the second semi John Moore’s from Liverpool, the British champions, take on Southern Regional College. The winners meet on Saturday at noon in the Corn Na Mac Leinn tournament final while the losers compete in the shield final.  Updates on all the games can be found on the GAA Higher Education Twitter feed. 

The New York side is managed by Rangers’ Paddy Curtis. Rangers won the 2021 New York under-20 title and by process, put forward the college Manager. He is joined by selectors Sean Price (Shannon Gaels) and Mick Healy (Rockland).

Graham Geraghty, the former Meath All-Ireland winning captain, is the trainer, and he will meet up with the side in Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford where they will be hosted. 

“We are really looking forward to the competition in Carlow. The Wexford under-20s play us in a challenge before the semifinal.  They lost to eventual All-Ireland champions Offaly last year, which shows the standard they are at,” Curtis told the Irish Voice.

“We then play Tallaght on Friday in our semifinal.  We know a little bit about them as Mickey Quigg watched them in the earlier rounds.” Quigg is the former New York hurling development officer who recently relocated back to Ireland. “We are aware of the challenge ahead. John Moore’s beat New York two years ago so we know the standards they are playing at.” 

New York has been participating in the Corn Na Mac Leinn tournament, or its predecessors for over 20 years. What is next for the players? Curtis replied, “This is a stepping stone to the New York senior panel. I can see a good number of these players on the New York junior squad that will play in Ireland later in the year. 

“I can also see them graduating to the New York senior team in the near future. It’s really important that they have this level to allow them to take the next step.”
The majority of the players have also played on New York Feile sides, which means the conveyer belt is working for the Big Apple.

What of the team this year?  Dylan Curran from St. Barnabas and Shay McElligott are the joint captains. They have played in the past, as have a number of others including PJ King, Peter Cronin, Steven Doheny, and Gearoid Kennedy. 

“We are under no illusions, but we have to give the players an opportunity to keep playing at the highest levels we can find,” Curtis said.

“It takes a lot of work, and all the players have given everything to get us ready. We have to thank each and every one of them for the effort they have put in. The parents behind them, and all of our sponsors, without them, this is impossible to achieve.”

Crana Electric is the main sponsor but the tri-state as a whole has dug deep to make the trip possible.

*This column first appeared in the February 16 edition of the weekly Irish Voice newspaper, sister publication to IrishCentral.

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