The New York Ladies football squad has a very busy schedule ahead of them this summer. While local residents plan long weekends away and vacations during the summer recess, the team’s workload intensifies 100 fold.
The club semifinals arrive on July 17, with the final scheduled for July 31 at Gaelic Park. The training that is involved in that alone will be huge as everyone fights to follow Na Fianna as the champions of 2011.
The reigning holders have, of course, no plans to release their grip on the Sean Faherty Cup. All in all a tremendous month ahead.
But hold on, that’s not all, as 25 of the New York Ladies have also been picked on the New York panel that is taking part in the All-Ireland junior championship, with the quarterfinal scheduled for August 24 against the winners of Carlow and Kilkenny. If New York wins that contest they will advance to the semifinal the following week.
The full list of players selected by Phil Sheridan the manager and his selection team is as follows -- captain Molly O’Rourke (Na Fianna) and vice captain Cathriona Brady (Kerry/Donegal); Linda McKeon, Emma Clarke, Rosie O Reilly Broderick (Cavan); Tracey Ann McCullough, Claire McIlroy, Meabh De Burca, Aishling Gormley (Fermanagh); Aoife Gibson, Niamh Britton, Louise Lilly, Kelly Roche, Michelle McVann (Kerry Donegal); Alison Leydon, Jessie Garcia, Imelda Mullarkey, Katrina Lynch, Joanne Monaghan, Karen Henry, Michelle Brennan, Mary O’Rourke, Aine Dwyer, Fiona Dwyer (Na Fianna); Courtney Traynor (Rockland).
The panel has immense experience in its ranks with at least seven players with inter-county experience from Ireland. They have been training since April with no stone unturned in their preparations. Challenge games against men’s teams and ladies sides have been utilized.
The choices available to the management as they select their side are also varied, with a very strong center line. The team itself will look very familiar to those that follow ladies football in New York.
Alison Leydon is the one bona fide keeper in the panel. She is outstanding, with her shot stopping superb and ball handling excellent.
Mary O’Rourke who is also challenging for a forward slot looks to be the back up keeper. Certainly she is athletic enough to make the transition.
Full back and center half have a host of options. Tracey Ann McCullough and Katrina Lynch would look to be the number three contenders. Vice captain Catriona Lynch, Louise Lilly and Joanne Monaghan are all challenging for the six shirt.
McCullough has very good hands and is very good at moving the ball; Lynch adds an extra level of aggression and is a tenacious marker. She may get a corner slot beside McCullough.
Lynch is an outstanding ball carrying player. She played as a forward and midfielder when she first came to New York but has slotted in to an attacking defensive role perfectly for her club.
Lilly may get a wing slot for the same reasons as Lynch. A dogged marker, she carries the ball well and is very experienced.
Niamh Britton, Clare McElroy, Aoife Gibson, Karen Henry, Imelda Mullarkey and Jesse Garcia will all be considered for the wings.
Britton and Mullarkey are similar players that look to have shots in the corners. Henry brings a lot to the plate as a wing back -- naturally fit, good hands -- while Garcia has improved with every year she has played football.
The middle of the park looks like the most settled. Linda McKeon and Aine Dwyer seem to have dibs on the two shirts available. Both played for their counties, Longford and Tipperary respectively.
Ball carrying demons, they push a defense back on its heels. Dwyer is excellent in the air, and her long range kicking is second to none. McKeon has panache for the dramatic goal when she gallops up the middle. They are also both very good defenders.
Others who may be used in this quadrant are Kelly Roche, Maebh DeBurca and Catherina Brady if the backline gets rearranged.
The forward line has a host of weapons, not least of which is the dynamic duo of Emma Clarke and Molly O’Rourke. Both are natural born winners and superb footballers.
O’Rourke is more of a playmaker, while Clarke goes for the jugular each time she gets the ball. Kelly Roche has a good line on the center forward slot, while Maebh DeBurca, Rosie O’Reilly Broderick, Aisling Gormley, Michelle Brennan, speed merchant Courtney Traynor and Mary O’Rourke will all contend for the wings.
Michelle McVann and Fiona Dwyer could be used as extra midfielders dropping back, McVann is very experienced and wouldn’t be fazed by the occasion. Dwyer has a great pair of hands under kick outs.
DeBurca puts a defense under a lot of pressure with her running and certainly is a dynamo in front of goal.
Brennan may be one of the side’s best assets. She can play midfield or forward. Always puts her opponent on the back foot and will score if in space and site of posts.
The side is well aware of the magnitude of the task at hand, and from a footballing standpoint they are being prepared brilliantly.
With a panel of this size traveling costs are a major point. The panel will be fundraising in the coming weeks to help defray the costs involved.
On the cards already is a novel fundraiser, a Dancing with the Stars night that promises to be a fun filled evening. Dates and times will be released shortly.