A is for amateur players giving their very best in Gaelic Park every week as the year goes by, and Astoria Gaels finally winning the intermediate title and moving up to senior.
B is for Birmingham, England. The New York College side is headed there on February 12 for the British University Games with work left to be done after a final appearance last year.
C is for crystal clear. That’s how the refs see it. Not the easiest job in the world -- ask Christy Helebert -- but the week in week out performances of Tommy Fahey, John Fitz, Larry McGrath, Alan Hearty, Enda Henry and their buddies who do the football, Donie O’Sullivan and the hurling refs all deserve thanks.
D is for the double. Kerry can do it with two teams, intermediate and senior, Cavan senior and junior, Donegal senior and junior, and Offaly hurlers and intermediate football.
E is for enjoy the more than 140 games that will be played in Gaelic Park this coming year in the five championships.
F is for finals. The hurling is now normally in August, with the Ladies on the same day. Intermediate and junior come along the second week in September, with the senior football final the first week in October.
G for the Galway hurlers. They have battled hard over the last five years without much reward. Is this to be the year that they get back on top in New York?
H is for help from Ireland. The summer sanctions are a huge part of the success stories over the years. Patrick Downey (Down), Stephen Kavanagh (Kerry), Ruairi Convery and Ryan O’Neill (Four Provinces) in the last three years helped to win championships.
I is for intermediate, possibly the toughest division to win in New York. Just ask Armagh, Astoria, Dublin and St. Raymond’s, who have had some excellent sides in the last five years, but all fell short.
J is for justice served by the Board of Officers in the Riverdale Steakhouse basement. Some of their meetings have taken hours and some as little as seconds as they decided the sentences served out to the players and officials that may have crossed the line!
K is for Kingdom. The players, mentors and spouses arrived into New York after Christmas for a well earned vacation after their 36th All-Ireland title. Manager Jack O’Connor played in New York, and if he had stayed there’s a very good chance that his son would be on the New York side that is headed for England.
L is for Larry McCarthy. The New York chairman has another big year ahead, with Galway arriving for the Connaught Championship and a deluge of regular season games and debates also taking place.
M is for Monty Maloney, the man who brought New York into the Ulster Championship final as the hurling manager for a historic game in Boston a few years ago. And Madden (John), the Tipp player who continues to shine for his club. And Molly O’Rourke totting up another 2-6.
N is for Nollaig. Miss Cleary is a tremendous help to all the players in the park as well as being the Ladies chairperson for a bunch of years. And for Na Fianna looking for back to back titles in the Ladies championship.
O is for Offaly, the three time New York hurling champions. Looking for four while their football side looks to take the intermediate title.
P is for Pat Scanlon. He got Cork to the New York final for the first time in close to 40 years. Is there enough in the tank to get them back again for another go at the title? We think so!
Q is for quest for a championship. Tyrone, Cork, Leitrim, Tipperary, Offaly football, Donegal juniors, Kerry/Donegal to name a few will have a chip on their shoulder as they look to replace Down, Roscommon, Rangers, Na Fianna and Offaly at the top.
R is for the intermediate champions Roscommon, who head back to senior status on the wave of winning emotion with Paul Levins, John Cox and company leading the way.
S is for scorers in chief, Johnny Murtagh for Tyrone, Dan Doona for Leitrim, Paddy Smith for Cavan, C.J. Molloy for Donegal, Nicky Dineen for Cork and Dermie Foley for Kerry. When any of these lads get the ball close to goal, keep your eyes peeled. Chances are a flag will be raised when they are finished.
T is for training. In Randall’s Island you will find Kerry, Leitrim, Cavan, Down, Astoria, Armagh from February on. Go to Rockland to see the home side, while Van Cortland plays host to Cork, Tipperary, Donegal, Tyrone, St. Barnabas and more. Those days in the end of winter help achieve the championship win in September. Ask Dobbins, Bingo, Wickham, Madden, and McCullough.
U is for unbelievable. When you talk to the historians of Gaelic Park, Peter Nolan when he sat at full back for New York, Kenny Finn for New York football and U.S. soccer, Paddy Cummins rifling another goal, Frank McGuigan in the seventies and early eighties, Bernie Aherne for the hurlers, Brendan Hennessy of Ballyduff, Mike Brosnan for Leitrim in the nineties, Bingo for Kerry, Niall Corbett by his side, All unbelievable.
V is for victory. Only five will end up on top at the end, with up to 400 players battling out before that comes to pass.
W is for wanderers. Each year in March a noble group of about 36 to 40 take the walk away from their present club and on to a new home when they sign the transfer form. Done for a host of reasons, it can have results of many colors.
X is for eXemplary. Okay, so we used a little free range, now back to exemplary. Murtagh for Tyrone, Higgins for Four Ps, Sweeney for Offaly, Rafferty for Cork, Bingo for Kerry, C.J. for the college side in England, Mooney for Dublin, Moran for Down.
Y is for the youth. The Minor Board has competitions from under-8 to under-21 in both boys and girls. They are the future of the association. Both send sides to Ireland at under-14 level to take on and beat the best in the Feile games. The minor boys are playing Galway in the championship this year, while the girls under-16s are looking at a tournament in Wicklow. The boards and coaches deserve our thanks, while the parents and players get our utmost respect and gratitude for all they do.
Z is for ZZZZZs. There’s a big year ahead, and we are going to need all our energy so heading for the feathers. Training Thursday night with the college side. See you at the Mecca!