Now that I’ve been to Blacksod and stared at that eternity of water separating the parish of Kilmore on this side from the city that never sleeps on the other, I’m getting ever more rueful that I’m going to be over here rather than over there on Sunday.
But, hey, such is life. I don’t think there’s any doubt but that the county will be extremely well represented over in New York this weekend. Safe travelling to all of you who are making the trip.
In advance of all matches we play, I usually do a post detailing what the opposition have been up to but, in an acknowledgement to the uniqueness of this fixture, that’s not possible on this occasion. Those of you who have listened to our New York preview episode of the Mayo News football podcast will have heard New York manager Justin O’Halloran tell Rob that the only matches they’ve played this year have been internal A v B training ones.
This means we have to go back to this time last year for their most recent outing, which was also a Connacht Championship quarter-final tie. That match was against Leitrim and, fielding a strong team that featured Armagh’s Jamie Clarke in attack and our own Tom Cunniffe in defence, New York came very close to pulling off a shock win over the Ridge County. The Yanks only went under in extra-time that day, on a scoreline of 0-19 to 1-15.
That stirring performance last year by Justin O’Halloran’s team was no flash in the pan either. Twelve months prior to that, the Cavan native was also in charge of New York and Roscommon – fresh from a positive League campaign in Division One – got the scare of their lives in the fixture before emerging with a 1-15 to 0-17 victory over the hosts.
Mike Finnerty has a good piece in this week’s Mayo News (paper and digital variants) where he lists the New York players to watch out for on Sunday. The first name that really jumps off the page in this respect is Cathal Compton, who, believe it or not, lined out for Roscommon against the Exiles in that 2017 clash. The Strokestown midfielder played midfield last summer for the Rossies so will be the only player in Gaelic Park on Sunday who can boast of having played Super 8s football.
Others on Mike’s list are New York captain Niall Madine, who has plenty of inter-county experience with his native Down, Seán Hurley from Kildare, who did a stint in the AFL with Freemantle, and speedy forward Shane Horgan, one of the homegrown American talent on the team this year.
Despite making his team tough to beat in this fixture, Justin O’Halloran has had to cope with significant churn in his playing panel compared to last year. Neither Tom Cunniffe nor Jamie Clarke are around this year and so, with so much turnover since last year, the kind of challenge New York will be able to pose for James Horan’s National League champions is even more of a mystery.
Nothing for it, then, but to refer this question to the floor – how do you think Sunday’s match will go for us?
How will we do against the Yanks?
- We'll hammer them (57%, 299 Votes)
- They'll give us a decent run for our money (34%, 178 Votes)
- It'll be the shock result of the century (6%, 31 Votes)
- They'll give us the scare of our lives (3%, 14 Votes)
Total Voters: 522