The visit to Boston last Saturday of the New York senior football team for a challenge with their near rivals resulted in a win for New York. It was not without its problems, however.
The side did not open well and indeed went 30 minutes of the first half without a score. They finally grabbed a point in the 31st minute, before a second half recovery resulted in the win.
Was the revitalization due to a better plan for the final 35, or the lack of fitness on behalf of Boston? Probably a little of both as New York outscored their opponents 1-7 to 0-1 in that period with the introduction of Kenny O’Connor to full forward and the move of Adrian O’Connor out the field (he roamed far and wide) having big impacts.
Boston always play New York tough, and this encounter was no different. The reffing did not help, especially in the first half, but one must adjust quickly to this as anything less is akin to football suicide. The ref from Ireland will have different eyes from anything that we are used to on this side of the pond.
Work to be done then with 11 days to the contest with Galway in the Connaught Championship on May 2.
Boston opened the game possessed as they were first to the ball, winning the breaks and harassing across the field. Colman Mulkerrins had a point two minutes in from the left side of goal. It was quickly followed by a chance by Danny Connolly that went wide.
Johnny Murtagh had a free that tailed badly wide when he was fouled, and the next two balls into Adrian O’Connor at full forward were dealt with by Neil Donaghue, who punched to his corner backs.
New York also had two balls that dropped easily into the goalie’s hands in the first 10 minutes as they found it difficult to deal with the grass field and battling Bostonians, it appeared.
Colm McCrory had Boston’s second point after seven minutes, and he was already proving to be a handful with his long solo runs and insightful passes. When New York did win possession at the back, they took far too long to come out with the ball as they went laterally instead of forward. This was not helped by the lack of runs up front for an outlet pass.
After Adrian O’Connor was fouled on 12 minutes Murtagh again had a chance at a score from a free but another wide resulted. The Boston lead was extended with a Brian Rafferty free after 18 minutes, with Robbie Croft firing a 50 over the lathe three minutes later with an excellent kick.
The middle third of the half was all Boston as McCrory had a point from play as he continued to wreck havoc. Croft had his second point from the 50 yard line, this time after New York had fouled the ball.
The only clear cut chances by the Big Apple in this period were further wides by Murtagh from frees as he continued with his tough shooting afternoon.
Kenny O’Connor was introduced for Moynagh after 25 minutes, and he immediately went to the square releasing brother Adrian to the middle of the field as a spare man in that area.
Jason Kelly was also introduced for Ross Donovan a minute later, and it was Kelly who was fouled for New York’s first point, a free by Murtagh on 31 minutes.
They attacked again moments later with Ken O’Connor flicking at a ball after good work by an attacking Brendan McGourty and Kelly, but it went wide.
Inexplicably Murtagh was called for a free two minutes from the break when he was bearing down on goal. The ref decided to give that crazy call back when he flagged Boston at the other end when they drove the length of the field, again for no apparent reason.
New York did have the last chance of the half, another wide from Murtagh as one of the toughest New York halves in memory thankfully for the visitors came to a close with the scoreline 0-6 to 0-1 for the hosts.
No further changes at the break for New York, surprisingly, but they started brightly. They pinned Boston in their own half for the first five minutes.
They had a real goal chance in the first minute when a free from the left sideline by Dan Doona was dropped to the square where Ken O’Connor flicked it goal-bound. It came back off the post with no corner forward in sight for the rebound.
O’Connor followed it with a brace of points the first when Doona found him, the second after a throw up resulted after a skirmish. Doona added New York’s fourth on the 10th minute to narrow the gap to two.
Boston had two clear chances in this period the first when McCrory was wide after a long run, the second a fisted Tony McArdle effort.
By the 18th minute the teams were tied as Murtagh punished over carrying in the Boston rearguard, and then scored when Kevin McGeeney was fouled.
Boston did have a chance to get back in front when their best goal chance of the afternoon arrived 15 minutes into the second half. Colman Mulkerrins was set free by McCrory on the right wing, and he bore in on goal at pace. His low drive shimmed across the face of goal and wide when perhaps he should have taken the point as Boston needed a score at this juncture and not necessarily a goal.
When Robbie O’Malley kicked a free wide from the 21, moments later it indeed looked as though New York were going to come all the way back as their luck had turned.
Murtagh had them in front for the first time in the game when Adrian O’Connor was fouled in the 24th minute. It was followed by the best move of the game.
A long ball out of the back found Murtagh on the right wing. He fired long to the square to Ken O’Connor, who got possession and quickly released to a running brother Adrian. The big man slotted low to the right corner for the only goal of the game and a four point New York lead.
Boston had a point in reply from Kevin Curran and also had a dangerous long ball head for the square where Alan Hearty wisely punched out to the wing and safety.
Kelly cancelled out that score, however, when he grabbed a short Doona free and tapped over before Tomo Smith had the final New York chance, a wide in what was a cameo role for the Cavan man.
A win is a win then, but what are the silver linings?
The keepers had little to do as Boston went for points when they had chances. Hearty dealt well with the one long ball. The kick outs were predictable; a parade of long balls up the center will not work against the majority of teams, and they didn’t for over a half the game on this occasion.
The backs did not work the ball out quick enough in the first half but will be happy with the one point total in the second. If nothing is opening up front then the ball needs to be carried at pace forward.
Brendan McGourty spent a lot of time out the field in the second half as his man went walkabout, so the full back slot was not cleared up. Colm McCarron had some very positive moments, Lonan Maguire battled throughout while Alan Rafferty had a lot of possession, but again the ball was not worked forward.
The middle of the field was clogged when Adrian O’Connor arrived to that diamond. The kickouts will need to be varied as not one short one materialized over the 70 minutes. Boston used it at least five times in the second half to good effect.
Up front a total of 1-8 is far too low for a game against Boston, who only had two training sessions. Eleven wides over the game for a sum of 20 chances also needs addressing.
Dan Doona was far more active in the second half and his passing to the Big Man was a plus. Adrian O’Connor did a lot of tracking when he moved out the field; the square did not suit him.
Ken O’Connor introduced a physical side to the game and he was by far the most active of the forwards, always showing for the ball. He didn’t always get it but he certainly showed. Without his two points and the assist on the goal it would have been a long trip home.
Kevin McGeeney battled, but the other forwards had very little effect. Jason Kelly showed well and he probably locked up a starting slot for Galway, but the late arrival of Tomo Smith was surprising. He did well in his five minutes and would have tormented the defense if he was introduced sooner as that is his nature.
While the game was perhaps New York’s last before Galway, many asked a legitimate question -- why not bring on another five subs? Certainly the starters would or could not have complained, such was the scoreline. The management basically used only three however, as the goalie and Smith don’t really count.
Boston will be very disappointed with the loss. They gave it one hell of a shot.
Neil Donaghue had a very good opening half, Tony McArdle likewise. Colman Mulkerrins, Donal McNulty, Robbie Croft and Kevin Curran also had very positive moments.
Colm McCrory was brilliant, running with the ball or using his teammates. A man of the match performance.
New York: 1 Pa Ryan, 2 Lonan Maguire, 3 Brendan McGourty, 4 Colm McCarron, 5 Ronan Caffrey, 6 Alan Rafferty, 7 Aiden Morton, 8 Pat Madden, 9 Paul O’Hara, 10 Ross Donovan, 11 Dan Doona (0-1), 12 Kevin McGeeney, 13 John Murtagh (0-4, 4 frees), 14 Adrian O’Connor (1-0), 15 James Moynagh. Subs: Kenny O’Connor (0-2) for Moynagh 25 mins, Jason Kelly (0-1) for Donovan 27 mins, Joe Bell for Morton 40 mins, Alan Hearty for Ryan 50 mins, Paddy Smith for McGeeney 63 mins.
Boston: 1 Paudie Conneely, 2 Pat McNichols, 3 Neil Donaghue, 4 Tom Maguire, 5 Kieran Cox, 6 Tony McArdle, 7 John Lynch, 8 Donal McNulty, 9 Gary Brilly, 10 Colman Mulkerrins (0-1), 11 Colm McCrory (0-2), 12 Robbie Croft (0-2, 2 frees), 13 Brian Rafferty (0-1, 1 free), 14 Danny Conneely, 15 Dermot McCrudden. Subs: Robbie O’Malley, Kevin Curran (0-1, 1 free).
Man of the match: Colm McCrory (Boston); Kenny O’Connor (New York).
Referee: Tadgh Lucey (Cork, Boston). Don’t like to criticize the man in black but to be fair if the ranking is one to 10 then he came away with a three as he was nearly the cause of a row on more than one occasion due to calls, some of which defied all logic.