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New York v Leitrim, Gaelic Park, NYC, 3pm

Friday, May 03, 2013

Sunday, May 5
Connacht GAA Football Senior Championship Quarter-Final
New York v Leitrim, Gaelic Park, New York City, 3pm (local time) / 8pm (Irish time)

It's hard to believe it, but 222 days have come and gone since Donegal brought the curtain down on the 2012 All-Ireland Football Championship with that thrilling victory over Mayo in the final last September.

But 2012 is history now, and the 2013 Football Championship officially begins in the Bronx on Sunday when Leitrim take on New York in the unique confines of Gaelic Park.

Always something of a novelty match, it has been the tradition for many years now that New York open up the Connacht Championship (and in effect the overall All-Ireland Championship) at the provincial quarter-final stage in Gaelic Park against one of the five Connacht counties.

This year Leitrim are their opponents, and they arrived in New York City on Thursday evening, and will do a light session in Gaelic Park on both Friday and Saturday morning.

Leitrim joint-manager Barney Breen spoke to shortly before departing with the team for New York, and he the element of the unknown which often defines these encounters for the travelling team.

"We've done a good bit of homework on them. We can't afford to take them lightly. We're a mid table Division IV team so therefore we can't afford to take any team lightly," he said.

"New York are a bit of an unknown, but we're preparing for it the same as if it were Sligo, Roscommon, Mayo or Galway."

New York manager Connie Molloy, brother of Donegal's All-Ireland winning captain from 1992 Anthony Molloy, has named his team for the game. There are five native New Yorkers in the squad, including Connie's son CJ, who lines out at midfield.

Leitrim native Eoin Ward is named at centre-half-forward for New York, while Conor Lynam, Keith Scally (both Westmeath) and Jason Kelly (Offaly) all have inter-county experience.

Leitrim are boosted by the return to their squad of trio Gary Reynolds, Barry Prior and Rory Gallagher, who were all travelling in Australia last year. Leitrim have not been affected by emigration this season, having been depleted ahead of last year's championship due to 12 players going abroad before the summer.

The winners of this game will play either London or Sligo in the Connacht semi-final. For Leitrim, that means a slip-up is even less palatable than it would be otherwise.

For with Sligo having barely survived relegation to the fourth tier in the recent Allianz Football League, Leitrim will believe that if they get over this New York hurdle, they will have an excellent chance against either London or Sligo of reaching what would be their first Connacht final since 2000, and only their second since the year of magic, 1994.

NEW YORK: G Joyce; D Jackson, M O'Regan, P Lambe; L Maguire, K Scally, A Rafferty; CJ Molloy, G O'Driscoll; E Ward, J Kelly, C Lynam; M Annett, R Woods, J Burke.


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