Big Apple ready to take a bite out of Sligo
By John Harrington
New York Gaelic Football team manager, Justin O’Halloran, believes it’s only a matter of time before the Big Apple wins a match in the Connacht Championship for the first time ever.
On Sunday they’ll play Sligo in the first round of this year’s provincial championship, and O’Halloran is bullish about his team’s chance.
“Well obviously the idea is that it is going to be this Sunday,” says O’Halloran. “We are hoping for it. Obviously it’s going to happen at some stage.
“The only goal is to win, there is no point playing if you don’t have a goal. And that’s our goal, to win.
“Hopefully, the sooner the better for us now. We are going on the right track to make it happen. It’s all going to be down to the day when the boys step across that line. It’s going to be up to them then.”
Sligo will treat the New York challenge with the utmost of respect because of what happened when Roscommon visited Gaelic Park last year.
Kevin McStay’s team were expected to win the match comfortably, but in the end they only barely survived the assignment, edging a one-point win on a score-line of 1-15 to 0-17.
New York earned huge honour in defeat, but it was a cold comfort.
“To be honest with you it’s still bittersweet,” says O’Halloran. “When you get so close to a thing that you are looking for so many years to achieve and you come so close and to be honest with you if we had another two minutes, which we should have had, we could have made it.
“But you deal with it. You deal with the good and the bad. There’s nothing you can do about that once the whistle is gone.
“People can say Roscommon played bad but in my opinion would be that we made them play bad. We actually played very well and we put pressure on them when they had the ball.
“And when we had the ball we put pressure on them so they might have played bad, but we actually played well and made them play bad.”
New York’s preparations for Sunday’s match will have been helped by two challenge matches they played against Donegal last month.
They lost the first by seven points and the second by eight, and O’Halloran believes the two matches has brought his team on a lot.
“We got up to speed. I thought Donegal played pretty much at championship level. It was good for us to get to that level before our actual championship game and see where we were at and prepare boys for being able to handle that, so it was very good.
“The more games you get the better you are going to be, and you don’t want to see mistakes on your one game, so if you can see them in challenge games beforehand, and fix them for the actual championship game it means a hell of a lot.”
New York will be without injured midfielders Brian Connor and Luke Loughlin who both excelled in last year’s match against Roscommon, but in the credit column they’ve gained former Mayo defender Tom Cunniffe and Dublin hurler Danny Sutcliffe who is reputed to be almost as handy with the big ball as he is the small one.
“Ah, they are getting on good, they are training away,” says O’Halloran. “They are looking good in training anyway.
“Both of them played well against Donegal. Tom only played one game. Danny played both games now and I expect big things out of them now come Sunday.”