New York finally selected its manager for the 2010 and 2011 seasons (its a two year job according to the rule book) when Seamus Sweeney from Donegal was given the job last Thursday.

The Connaught Championship is in fact two weeks early this year, with May 2 the afternoon when Galway arrives to challenge New York in the first round. Time will be of the essence to prepare for the fixture, a replay of the FBD final of October. It leaves New York with a little over 11 weeks to prepare, a possible total of 35 to 38 training sessions.

Two names went forward for the position of manager this year, Seamus Sweeney and Eugene Kyne (myself).  In the role of selectors, I had Enda Henry, Brian Newman and Justin O’Halloran on board.  At the time of writing the only confirmed selector who is going forward with Sweeney is O’Halloran.

Sweeney is well known as the manager of Four Provinces, the 2007 New York senior football champions. The out-of-towners brought a wave of enthusiasm to New York in their four years in town before North America and the Central Council in Dublin decided late last year that they must return to play competitive football in Philadelphia. It’s a huge loss to New York and one that will be impossible to replace.

What then of the talent that is available to the new manager in New York?  The team that went out to face Mayo last year showed incredible heart in a losing battle. They had an 0-4 to 0-1 lead before the strength of Mayo began to tell.

In the five years between the last two Mayo contests with New York, the score lines went from 3-28 to 1-8 down to 2-19 to 0-10, a remarkable improvement. Five years ago Galway beat New York 3-14 to 0-6, so a barometer is there.

New York has a slew of talent at its disposal. The key is to get them to train and embrace a team plan. A lineout with names such as Hearty, Bell, Foley, Corbett, Power, Rafferty, Garvey, Stafford, Killeen, Smith, O’Connor, Doona, McGoldrick, Moran, Munnelly, Skeffington, Murtagh, Huvane, Donavan, Downey, Sloan, Dobbins, Gavin, Conroy and Kelly flying fit and coordinated on the same page would give many a county team fits. It would take 30 of the 35 sessions by all, but the result would be monumental.

As the year goes on we will see the panel take shape and have a further look at both it and the management team. Any one that runs for a job wants it, however once the decision is made we all need to jump in and support it.

New York Stars Still Playing

By Eugene Kyne

WE all take a look at the score lines each week to our native counties when the club seasons are in full swing. While the Holy Grail is the county side, of course, that is for the few, the proud.

The club scene is where we all at one stage or another, be it under-10s as minors or on the senior team before the immigration bug took hold, pulled on the home colors.

For me the black and white of Turlough still holds pride of place for hurling, with Martin Naughton, Frank Burke, Franny Forde, P.J. Qualter and Pakie Burke all household names in Galway circles for their dominating performances for club and then county.

Football wise we went across to Claregalway where we battled against the more powerful football clubs over the years. They have now graduated to senior level in Galway with Barry Cullinane, a hurler for Turlough and a footballer for the parish and Galway seniors. Danny Cummins is an up and coming superstar, with Adrian Faherty and Brian Donoghue both goalies that have represented Galway at the highest level.

On the club front the All-Ireland titles at junior and intermediate level are up for grabs this weekend, with Castlegregory (Kerry) taking on Kiltimagh (Mayo) in the junior contest and Spa (Kerry) going up against Cookstown (Tyrone) in the inter.

Some former New York stars are on display for these clubs, with Pa Murphy of Kerry and New York fame at midfield for Spa, while Michael (Stam) O’Donaghue lines out at full forward. Stam won a county title with Kerry in 2006, with Murphy and Dan Doona as teammates.

Spa had a very impressive win over Maynooth in the semifinal and will start favorites in their contest at Croke Park this Sunday.

The junior final, to paraphrase Patrick Kavanagh, is a game between the fishermen from the Maherees Peninsula and the farmers from Kiltimagh. I need to thank a certain Castlegregory man for that. A Moore than capable man with the pen.

Castlegregory has some very familiar names around its club, with Paddy O’Connor one of its biggest supporters. John Riordan, Timmy Lynch and Jimmy Maunsell will be close to the airwaves if not in Ireland watching in person as Adrian Sammy Finn leads his side out in the search for glory.

As a player who lined out against Sammy for years in Van Cortland and Gaelic Park, and watched him in numerous games in New York before he headed for home, he stood out as one who was never found wanting and was never bettered. I would rate him alongside Michael Conroy as one of the best players who never played for New York.

Finn was a brilliant wing back and is still leading from the front. He scored the first point in the All-Ireland semifinal for his side when they went on to defeat Longwood Meath to qualify for Croker this Sunday.  We wish them well in their respective quests for glory.

At senior club level, former New York full back and wing back Paul O’Connor is playing at number nine for his home side Kilmurray-Ibrackane as they prepare for the semifinal clash versus Portlaoise on February 21. That game will be played in the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick.

In their quarterfinal win his side got the better of London’s Tir Conaill Gaels, who had one Shaun Campbell at number five. Campbell was at wing back the last time New York took on Galway in the championship before he headed back to England.

Busy times then on the club front. While some players have fleeting visits to New York, and more have long and brilliant careers. we forget none, admire all, and watch closely as they continue their careers after they leave us.

Good luck to our friends in their championship battles this Sunday and in the weeks ahead.

Kerry, Sam Ready to Dance

By Eugene Kyne

WITH the dinner dance season in full swing it is party city for the New York GAA brethren. Down had their dance last Saturday night when they honored Pauline Turley as guest of honor and awarded player of the year trophies to Robbie Moran and Brendan McGourty. They also gave out the 2009 New York championship winning medals to their squad.

In the weeks ahead one of the most sought after tickets will be for the Kerry football club dance. It takes place this year on February 27 in Riccardo’s of Astoria, with Donal O’Sullivan from Skellig, Co. Kerry the guest of honor.

O’Sullivan is one of the owners of Navillus Construction, a huge supporter of all things Kerry and GAA as well as one of the leading employers in New York’s construction circles. His club Skellig Rangers are the reigning 2009 All-Ireland junior champions after a comprehensive win over John Mitchells of Liverpool last year in the final.

Club Person of the Year is Paudie O’Connor from Dromid, and Yonkers, while Dermot Foley of Firies is the Senior Player of the Year.  Eoghan O’Mahoney from Laune Rangers is the Intermediate Player of the Year on what promises to be a great evening.

In the aftermath of another All-Ireland win some special guests will be bringing from Ireland the Sam Maguire Cup. A trio of superstars, all of whom would have valid claims to spots on the all time GAA 15, one of whom took the number 13 slot, will escort the cup across the pond.

Mickey Sheehy, with eight senior and two under-21 All-Irelands (he wears 13 on the centenary 15), Maurice Fitzgerald (two senior and one under-21), and Dara O’Se with five senior and two under-21s, will be the security team that watches Sam come through customs.

A total of 14 all-star awards and possibly the most famous goal and point in the history of the game means it will be an evening of unbelievable stories.

This year’s Kerry New York managers are Finbarr Flood at senior with Bingo Driscoll and Eugene O’Sullivan, and the Ballydonoghue pair Brendan Henchy and Paudie Mulvihill at intermediate. Certainly if they can talk any of the aforementioned three to stay for a few months it would be a tremendous coup.

Eoin Moriarity at 718-784-0500 or Joan Henchy at 914-629-8244 can be reached for info on journal and dinner dance tickets.