With the Connacht championship game over for another year, the witch hunt begins by many on whether it is feasible or not for New York to continue to participate, such was the drubbing that was dished out on Sunday.
As the crowd hung around Gaelic Park on Sunday, all sorts of opinions were heard from players that were on this year’s panel, last year’s panel and in years gone by. The general public and firm supporters also had strong opinions, both negative and positive.
In the last five years the margin of defeat has been just less than 15 points. Take away the 24 from this year and 16 from last and in the previous three years it was 11 points.
Looking across the GAA scenery, there have been many sides that took hammerings for years and never complained, but fought again the following year. Think of the times before the creative back door.
Counties such as Wicklow, Carlow, Sligo, yes Sligo, Antrim, even Donegal had periods when their championship time frame was one game and out for years and years. In fact, 13 of the 32 counties -- add in London and New York -- have always lost their last game of the year. ALWAYS. Only 19 teams have won Sam Maguire.
So what about New York? It is not the fifties and sixties any more when a New York side was good enough to win the All-Ireland, never mind compete. They did win the National League on three occasions.
There are a number of players in New York at the moment who could compete for a place on a county panel in Ireland. Many have recently started on the other side of the pond. Why weren’t they part of the panel and team on Sunday?
New York start training for the Connacht championship usually mid-January, late in comparison for a county side. Most county players are in the gym on their own schedules given to them from the manager and trainers in November.
Now most panels are already playing games in January, an FBD in Connacht as example. The New York player has nothing.
If a New York player is not making himself available for training come the first of March, then any manager should look further afield and say perhaps that player is out of contention. And rightfully so. If you can’t commit to eight weeks then why should you be eligible?
However, why is he saying he has no interest? Perhaps it is because he feels that the one and done is not worth the time of work away from family.
To get any side ready for a championship tilt, be it under-12 or senior, you must try out your players. You have to have challenges.
How do you get them here? This year Boston did not play New York. You would think that they would be delighted to give it a lash.
The Wolfe Tones side that was down for the Cavan sevens (including Joe Sheridan) with the help of another seven bodies would have been perfect, but it never happened.
If we could guarantee a New York player three games against quality competition, would that help? How about this -- speak to the GAA in Ireland and tell them that you want the All-Ireland club champions out here the week after St. Patrick’s Day for eight days. During the trip they will play New York twice.
The flights for the trip will cost at 700 a man multiplied by 25, which equals $17,500. Hotel for the week another $5,000.
Getting 1,000 people into the park for the challenges at $10 a head is $10,000 back. It costs $12 for two games against Crossmaglen or Corofin or Garrycastle. Throw in a dinner dance and that is well covered.
Now you go for your next challenge, one of the county teams that are knocked out of the league before final stages. A division three team perhaps.
Again the numbers above are the barometer, another 12 grand for a Fermanagh or Wicklow. Three or four bona fide challenges that prepare you for the first week in May. It just might bring every player in New York to your door asking you if they can come to a trail game.
Try it for one year, and if it works you just might have two Connacht championship games to prepare for.
You should never have to beg a man to play football. The 30 lads who trained, management and the backroom staff are all to be commended for their effort last Sunday.
They did nothing wrong with the effort they put in over the winter months. Having the American born players is also the future of the association.'
The system in place at the moment to get the best out of the players that are in New York must be addressed. Now is the time.