New York SFC Final: St. Barnabas are Kings of New York
New York Senior Football Championship Final
St. Barnabas 4-19 Sligo 4-15
By John Harrington
St Barnabas created history on Sunday by winning the New York Senior Football Championship for the very first time.
What made this achievement all the more laudable was that they did it with a team of born and bred New Yorkers, and in spectacular style after a come from behind victory after extra-time against Sligo.
These two teams had already drawn a week previously in a match that also went to extra-time, so even the most optimistic GAA fan couldn’t have hoped we’d have even more drama the second time around.
But that’s exactly what was delivered, drama upon drama, as St. Barnabas somehow found a way to win this match despite trailing by 10 points mid-way through the second-half.
The match started off at a good clip with both teams trading scores as the contest pinballed from one end of the field to the other.
It was Sligo who landed the first heavy blow when Daniel ‘Yankee’ McKenna scored a goal that pushed them into a 1-7 to 0-8 lead just before half-time.
Sligo stretched their lead to four points early in the second half and looked to be gaining control of the contest until Tiaran Mathers gave St. Barnabas a much-needed shot of adrenalin with their first goal of the match.
Much of their good work was undone though when they then conceded a really soft goal that put Sligo in the driving seat again.
And when Sligo hit them for a third goal shortly afterwards it really looked like they were on their way to a routine victory.
But whatever was said in the St. Barnabas huddle during the second-half water-break clearly had the desired effect because they were a transformed team when they ran back onto the pitch.
A converted penalty reduced the gap to seven points and breathed new life into their challenge, and from there they showed incredible self-belief and poise as they kicked seven unanswered points to level the game by the end of normal time.
St. Barnabas looked like the team with all the momentum when they then landed the first two points in extra-time.
But there was a kick left in Sligo, and Johnny Glynn showed great strength to win a high ball in the St. Barnabas square, turn, and fire it to the net.
But with the Mathers brothers Conor and Tiarnan leading the charge, St. Barnabas simply refused to yield.
It was Tiarnan who wrote his name in lights by incredibly scoring two goals in the space of 30 seconds that effectively decided this roller-coaster match once and for all.
The second was a thing of beauty, as he showed terrific poise to dink the ball over the head of Sligo goalkeeper Vinny Cadden from 20 yards out.
Now leading by six points, 4-19 to 4-13, St. Barnabas were never going to lose it from there and played some clever possession football in the second period of extra-time to prevent Sligo from summoning a late charge.
If you’re going to win a county title for the very first time in your club’s history, then you might as well do it in style and that’s certainly what St. Barnabas did on Sunday.
Their victory isn’t just a great achievement for their club but a red-letter day for GAA in New York as a whole.
The New York Minor Board has put a huge effort into developing young, native footballers in the city in recent years and now we’re really seeing the fruits of their labour in the Big Apple.