The New York senior football squad has been in training now for close to two months as they prepare for the visit of Galway on May 2, just a few short weeks away.
The Irish Voice visited the side at training last week and had some time to talk to manager Seamus Sweeney (Four Provinces), trainer Mickey McMeel (Four Provinces), selectors Justin O’Halloran (Kerry), Connie Molloy (Donegal) and assistant trainer Tony McTigue (Roscommon).
The side has 29 training sessions under their belts at this stage, and that has included hours spent on the beach before they entered Gaelic Park.
Thirty-nine players have tried out for the panel, and the final cut down to the 30 that will be carried into the championship game will come two weeks before they finally play the Tribesmen.
“All of the best player talent available for selection has come on board this year which makes it different from other years,” said Molloy.
“They have given it a huge effort over the 30 odd sessions to this point and the players have left nothing behind in their preparations.”
Certainly the players who have arrived into and returned to New York have improved the panel immensely, with Jason Killeen, who played a starring role in New York’s best effort to date a game against Leitrim that went to extra time, Denny Reilly, Colm McCarron, and Shane O’Brien pushing the mainstays such as Robbie Moran, Mark Dobbins and Joe Bell.
Kenny O’Connor, Dan Doona, and Aiden Power return after a year away, with Doona this year’s captain while Alan Rafferty, who arrived last year from the London panel, is the vice captain.
While the squad has had challenges recently against New York club sides, their first and last real challenge before the big contest is one against Boston on Saturday evening in Canton.
“As the game is just weeks away from the Galway contest the starting lineout will be close to the Galway one. You are looking for a settled side at this point but all the players have put in a huge effort which will make the selection very difficult,” stated Molloy.
The Donegal native has of course lined out for New York in the Gael Linn Cup games, in which New York had unbelievable success, while his son CJ is one of the 39 players who are trying out this year.
“Boston always play New York very tough so despite the fact that we know little about their side we can be sure that it will be a good strong challenge for us,” Molloy added.
A couple of players sure to figure with Boston are Gary Brilly from Wexford, who lined out with Wolfe Tones in the recent Cavan 7s, and his teammates on that day Marty Farrell (Down) and Mike O’Brien (Clare).
What of Galway? We will look a little closer at them as the game gets closer, but for now Molloy, who was the chief spokesman, had this to say about their foe Joe Kernan.
“We have been watching him over the last few months and how he has Galway playing. They are not in the mold of Armagh but have a good footballing side coming together,” he said.
“Through the internet, videos of Galway games and what observers have said we have kept track of his side. We will want to get out the gate quickly against them, and we are not allowing the players to think it will be business as usual for Galway. We are looking forward to the challenge.”
Sweeney, the manager who comes to New York as a championship winner with Four Provinces, had glowing words to say about the men who will pull on the New York jersey on May Day.
“They have given fantastic effort over the 10 weeks so far. No matter where in Ireland or New York you are from, it is now our county team and the support that New York gives us is a tremendous boost on the day,” Sweeney said.
“It is an honor to represent the city and the lads are looking forward to the day after the hard work. We are looking forward to the Boston game first and that will help us in our preparations. We then have just two weeks before the big day.”
A full report on the Boston challenge will be in next week’s issue.
The following is a list of players who have tried out for the New York panel this season.
Pa Ryan (Astoria Gaels), 2 Alan Hearty (Armagh), 3 Kenny O’Connor, 4. John Goldrick, 5. Dan Doona, 6. Paul O’Hara, 7. Adrian O’Connor (all Leitrim), 8 Joe Bell, 9 Aiden Power, 10 Ronan Garvey, 11 John Murtagh (all Tyrone), 12 Paddy Smith, 13 Alan Caralan (both Cavan), 14 James Moynagh, 15 Aiden Morton, 16 Patsy Martin, 17 Kevin McGeeney (all Armagh), 18 Michael Sloan, 19 Mark Dobbins, 20 Robbie Moran, 21 Brendan McGourty (all Down), 22 Ross Donovan (Kerry), 23 Pat Madden (Leitrim), 24 CJ Molloy (Donegal), 25 Tom Hardwick (Donegal), 26 Jason Kelly (Offaly), 27 Shane Carty (Dublin), 28 James Huvane (St. Raymond’s), 29 Conor Brady (Cavan), 30 Alan Rafferty (Cork), 32 Francie Cleary (Cork), 33 Lonan Maguire (Roscommon), 34 Shane Russell (Cavan), 35 Shane O’Brien, 36 Jason Killeen, 37 Denny Reilly, 38 Ronan Caffrey (Rangers), 39 Colm McCarron (Donegal).