Easter Sunday hadn’t yet dawned on this side of the Atlantic and we had our first seismic shock of this year’s Championship. At last, at the 23rd attempt, New York claimed victory in a Connacht SFC match when, in the early hours of this morning our time over at Gaelic Park, they beat Andy Moran’s Leitrim on penalties.
The match finished level 0-13 each at the end of normal time, with former Dublin player Shane Carthy snatching a late, late equaliser for the Big Apple County deep in stoppage time. It was still level at the end of extra time – at 0-15 apiece – and in the shootout it was the Exiles who held their nerve, winning 2-0 on penalties to qualify for a provincial semi-final meeting with Sligo in a fortnight’s time.
Match report from RTÉ on last night’s dramatics over in the Bronx is here.
While Leitrim’s defeat is a huge setback for them, at a practical level what they’ve lost out on is the chance of a Connacht final appearance this year and, with it, the opportunity to play in the Sam Maguire end of this year’s Championship.
The latter prize was always of dubious nature for them – as, in truth, it most likely is for Sligo – but they’ll regret missing out on a chance for a rare Nestor Cup decider appearance. Aside from that, they’re heading in the same direction as they’d most likely expected they would be this year, which is into the Tailteann Cup.
For New York, it’s new territory as they now advance to a Connacht semi-final meeting with Sligo. This will necessitate a trip across the Atlantic for that one, as the match is fixed for Markievicz Park on Saturday week.
Last night’s result also means that New York are now seventy minutes away from Sam Maguire qualification this year.
Aside from pointing to the madness of the Connacht Championship set-up as it’s currently structured – not an issue for discussion now, of course, but a debate that needs to happen soon as it’s this craziness that has resulted in Galway, Roscommon and ourselves consigned to the same half of the provincial draw – New York’s win effectively seals Sligo’s place in the Sam Maguire this summer as it’s very difficult to see the Exiles getting past the Yeats County the weekend after next.
That’s all for another day, though, as the City that Never Sleeps celebrates an historic Gaelic football success. Congrats to them and commiserations to Leitrim for their respective parts in what was an epic GAA night at Gaelic Park.