While inter-squad scrimmages are fine when you do not have a national league to play in, the greatest training session ever is a competitive game.

As New York prepares for the visit of Roscommon in the Connaught Championship in May, they get set for their first bona fide contest in a challenge game against East Coast rivals Boston. It takes place on Saturday, April 2, at Gaelic Park with a throw in time of 5:30 p.m.

The rivalry over the years has been a very good one, with the results going in both directions.  Last year in Canton, New York had their hands full in a contest that was an eye opener.  At the break on that occasion Boston had the lead before running out of steam in the second half and losing.

One would think that New York would have a distinct advantage with 2 1/2 months of training already under their belts. Some new names on the panel this year are Rory O’Connor from Roscommon, another big midfielder, and Sean McNamee, a tight marking defender also training with the panel.

Despite a couple of requests for the New York panel none was released to the Irish Voice by the time pen went to paper. With a month to go it surely has picked itself at this point, with possibly two places still up for grabs with arriving players in New York.

Observations of the panel training over the last month to six weeks would project that Alan Hearty, Pa Ryan and Gary Lowney are battling for the starting keeper slot.

The defense has a number of choices, with Ciaran Martin, Paul Lambe and Ronan McGinley from Cavan, Aiden Power, Joe Bell (Tyrone), Sean McNamee (Armagh) and Lonan Maguire (Monaghan) all to the front. Brendan McGourty will also be an option.

Midfield has a number of choices, with Paddy Kelly, Adrian O’Connor and Pat Madden (Leitrim), Rory O’Connor, Kevin Smith and Paul O’Hara all possibilities.

The strike force will have captain Dan Doona leading it, Seamus Toner, Francie Cleary, Sean Reilly, Kevin Walsh -- who won a New York title with Kerry a couple of years ago back in town -- James Moynagh and Kevin McGeeney as options.

Kenny O’Connor is coming back from suspension at this level, with one more of a five game ban still on his list.

The Boston team is a hard product to put a feel on. They always show a lot of pride in these contests.

Look for them to see a New York team on these lines in their sights -- Ryan, Martin, McGourty, Lambe, Bell, Power, McGuire, R. O’Connor, Madden, Walsh, Doona, McGeeney, Reilly, A. O’Connor, Cleary.

Gaelic Park, the Bronx, New YorkGoogle Images