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New York footballers hope to shake up Connacht SFC again

New York manager Alan O'Mara, left, with player Jordan Ajani.

New York manager Alan O'Mara, left, with player Jordan Ajani.

By Áine Hourican

New York's Connacht SFC Quarter-Final against Mayo at Gaelic Park in the Bronx is already confirmed as a sell-out.

Appetities have clearly been whetted by New York's history making exploits against Leitrim last year when they won a match in the Conncht SFC for the very first time.

Those in Gaelic Park for that occasion witnessed an astonishing display of football as New York eventually came out on top in an extraordinary battle that required extra-time and penalties to finally settle it.

The New York panel, which included both home-grown and Irish-born players, delivered an outstanding performance that left Leitrim stunned.

With a roar that shook The Bronx, native New Yorker Mikey Brosnan scored the concluding penalty for New York.

Ahead of Sunday's showdown with Mayo, New York manager Alan O'Mara is relishing the challenge ahead and hoping for another special evening in the Bronx.

Debuting as an inter-county county manager, the former Cavan player told GAA.ie: “I believe that I have one of the best jobs in the GAA. The GAA in New York is unique and interesting. There are big challenges ahead, but with big challenges come big opportunities.

“When you’re living in New York, the work-life balance is not always the same as in Ireland. We pick the players that we believe are good enough, and who also have the attitude, want, and desire, to do the work that it takes to compete at this level.

“It takes a lot of effort and sacrifice to play for New York. Our players do it because they want to. They benefit both as individuals and as a group. As a manager, I think that’s very important.”

Gaelic Park, the home of New York GAA. 

Gaelic Park, the home of New York GAA. 

The inclusion of New York in the newly established Tailteann Cup is significant progress for the Stateside GAA team. Securing a guaranteed second game for the New York panel, the Tailteann Cup also provides more opportunities for players to progress their skills, and to push forward as a team. The Tailteann Cup also permits New York to travel and compete in Ireland, while representing their current home.

“We need players to keep working hard, and to keep competing," said O'Mara, who hosts the weekly Podcast series Real Talks.

"They also need to bring pride to New York when they get the opportunity. We don’t get as many opportunities as other counties, so we have to make the most of them when the games come around.

"There is a desire, a want, and an opportunity for New York to kick on. Everyone in New York has to earn the right to play more games, and we are excited to do that.

“We want to play a third game, and we want to play a fourth game, however, we have to go out and earn the right to play those games. The game against Mayo will be a challenge, but with challenge comes opportunity.”

 New York footballers Liam Kearney, left, and Adam Loughlin.

 New York footballers Liam Kearney, left, and Adam Loughlin.

Several New York players have returned to the panel this year, demonstrating their passion and dedication to representing their current home.

Returning player Adam Loughlin, originally from Westmeath, has been an active member of New York GAA for several years. Proud to be representing New York, Adam told GAA.ie that this year’s team are eager to create their own legacy.

“We have a new management and some new players, it’s a different season and a new team," says Loughlin. "Last year’s win was great, but this year, the aim is to create our own history, and not reflect too much on last year.

“We have a mix of both home-grown players and players who have emigrated from Ireland; however, everyone is here for the same reasons, we want to play football, and we’re proud to represent New York.”

Mayo football fans are expected to travel in large numbers to New York for the sold-out 2024 Connacht Football quarter-final at Gaelic Park. The game is a celebration of Irish heritage for both local players and those who have relocated to The Big Apple.

The quarter-final is set to be an exciting display of football, with both Mayo and New York showcasing their passion, pride, and commitment to the sport of the Irish heritage.