Our 2011 inter-county season finished up in Gaelic Park, New York, yesterday where the lads had an easy win over New York in the FBD Final. Stateside Dean was in the Bronx for the game and I’m delighted to welcome him into the guest slot to provide this report on the action. I’d also like to thank An Fear Mór who took the accompanying photos.
Mayo finished off the 2011 season in style with a convincing 7-12 to 2-8 win over New York in the Connacht FBD League Final played yesterday afternoon in Gaelic Park, New York. Alan Freeman (2-4) led the way for Mayo while Cillian O’Connor (2-1) continued his fine form and Enda Varley (1-2) had a strong first half.
The first five minutes of the game saw both sides trying to find their legs, with New York jumping out to a two-point lead after careless play from the Mayo side. Seamus O’Shea then opened Mayo’s account with a point and Varley evened the score before O’Shea put the visitors ahead 0-3 to 0-2. The Mayo men never looked back.
Fierce hitting from both teams took its toll early on when Ger Cafferkey was clattered while reaching for a loose ball. The Ballina Stephenites man suffered what was later termed a dislocated shoulder, effectively ending his day.
After O’Connor scored from a free, New York narrowly missed a goal on a low, wide shot to Kenneth O’Malley’s right. Varley added another point before Mayo broke the game open with the first of what would be many goals. Kevin McLoughlin and Lee Keegan worked the ball up the field and O’Connor buried his chance into the right corner of the net after receiving Keegan’s hand pass.
Mayo then started to take control of midfield, picking up the majority of breaking balls. And when a high ball was played into O’Connor, who snuck behind his defender, Mayo quickly had a 2-5 to 0-2 advantage.
The Exiles scratched another point before Freeman mirrored O’Connor’s goal minutes before. The big full forward played off his defender, broke loose and netted Mayo’s third goal. At this stage, it was evident that the New Yorkers had no answer to the high ball into Mayo’s forward line.
Just before the half, another surge up the field from McLoughlin, Jason Gibbons and Varley all but killed off the game as a contest. Varley made no mistake with his shot and Mayo went into halftime leading 4-5 to 0-3.
The opening of the second half saw the introduction of Ronan McGarrity, James Kilcullen and Mark Ronaldson into the lineup. Just as they did in the first half, New York opened the scoring with a point, and narrowly missed a goal as a shot banged off O’Malley’s post. Freeman answered for Mayo with a point following a nice move in midfield by Kilcullen to earn a free. Meanwhile, the Exiles kept battling and Brendan McGourty struck a beautiful high ball from 30 metres for a point.
Midway through the second half, both teams threw caution to the wind. Ronaldson initiated a break up the left side that ended with Aidan O’Shea double-fisting a goal. O’Shea moved up to the full-forward line in the second half to use his size against the much smaller New York defenders.
New York made a final attempt at a comeback with a goal and a couple of points to cut into Mayo’s lead, but Ronaldson and Freeman notched points to build up Mayo’s advantage again. And when Trevor Howley made the defensive play of the day by sprawling out to block a sure scoring chance deep in Mayo territory, New York’s spirit was crushed.
From that point on, Mayo’s attack came in waves as the Exiles’ midfield and half back lines faded in the heat. Gibbons set up Freeman for his second goal, and then the Aghamore man hit a shot off the upright, which fell to Aidan O’Shea who buried his second goal. The score could have been even worse for New York if not for a point-blank save by the keeper on Gibbons.
The Mayo men kept their foot on the pedal as Aidan O’Shea and Aidan Campbell both scored late points. The final nails in the coffin came from the relentless Freeman – a point from play and a point from a free. And while New York was able to grab a consolation goal, the final, lopsided scoreboard read: Mayo 7-12, New York 2-8.
A few observations on the game:
- New York started fast and looked the fresher of the two teams early on.
- Richie Feeney settled Mayo’s defense when New York looked most threatening.
- The first 20 minutes were hard hitting as both sides looked to gain a physical edge, Mayo finally came alive after Cafferkey’s injury.
- McLoughlin and Keegan teamed up on several occasions to move the ball quickly from Mayo’s half of the field to the full-forward line.
- New York had no answer for O’Connor and Varley in the first half and struggled with Freeman and Aidan O’Shea’s size late in the game.
- All in all, what started as a sluggish, hard-hitting affair turned into an open and entertaining contest. There was just too much size, strength and talent on the Mayo side for the New Yorkers to effectively handle.
- Earning silverware is a great way to finish off the year. Congrats to James Horan, all the lads and the backroom staff.
MAYO: Kenneth O’Malley; Dermot Geraghty, Ger Cafferkey, Eoghan Reilly; Chris Barrett, Richie Feeney, Lee Keegan; Jason Gibbons, Seamus O’Shea (0-2); Kevin McLoughlin (0-1), Aidan O’Shea (2-0), Aidan Campbell (0-1); Enda Varley (1-2), Alan Freeman (2-4), Cillian O’Connor (2-1). Subs: Trevor Howley for Cafferkey, James Kilcullen for Feeney, Ronan McGarrity for Varley, Mark Ronaldson (0-1) for O’Connor.
New York scorers: Kelly (0-2), Hatzer (0-2), McGourty (0-2), Walsh (0-2), A. O’Connor (1-0), Fitzgerald (1-0).