[caption id="attachment_67240" align="aligncenter" width="600" caption="Wicklow's Caitriona McKeon in a battle for possession with Meabh De Burca of New York."][/caption]
There was little joy for the Big Apple Gaels this weekend as the New York Ladies fell to Wicklow at Croke Park in the replay of the junior All-Ireland football while the men folk were hammered by Mayo in the final of the FBD league at Gaelic Park. Any hopes of silverware for New York were brutally put to an end by two second half goals by Meadbh Deeney and Lucy Mulhall.
New York started aggressively and launched several unproductive attacks before Molly O'Rourke opened the scoring after five minutes as she finished off a good move involving Kelly Roche and Emma Clarke. However Wicklow responded quickly as the strong running Niamh Carroll cut through for a fine score. New York then spurned a good chance to go ahead as an Emma Clarke free dropped short after Molly O'Rourke was fouled.
Though New York were playing with a strong wind in the first half, it was Wicklow who were creating the major scoring chances. After ten minutes midfielder Kinch picked out Lucy Mulhall with a fine pass behind the New York defense but keeper Leyden did well to keep the shot out. New York had another let off as Niamh Carroll's effort struck the outside of the post before Mulhall eventually pointed after the blitz of pressure. Wicklow continued to dictate as the axis of attack which mainly consisted of Mulhall, Carroll and Deeney was causing plenty of problems for the Big Apple rear guard.
Soon the Garden County would be ahead by 0-5 to 0 -1 as Deeney had a brace and the ever dangerous Mulhall had the other while Louise Fusciardi was also creating effective runs from the back. On twenty minutes Emma Clarke got a point with a free from a very acute angle but it did little to slow the Wicklow momentum as they looked set to rattle the net but Carroll blasted over from close range after Mulhall did the support work. New York did finish the period strongly as a very promising movement between Linda McKeon and Molly O'Rourke ended with Clarke pointing a free.
On their next attack, New York did manage to scare Wicklow and threaten their net as a "45" from Aine O'Dwyer eventually came back off the crossbar and several attempts were blocked before Clarke pointed another free to leave the score 0-6 to 0-4 at the break in favor of Wicklow.
New York were soon within a point of Wicklow as Molly O'Rourke sliced through for a point after the resumption but Mulhall had a bad miss at the end as she punched wide from close range when a goal looked a possibility. After five minutes Wicklow were awarded a penalty which Deeney slotted to the corner of the net. However the impact of the penalty was mitigated somewhat as Wicklow was reduced to fourteen players as full back Catriona Byrne was sin-binned for a dangerous foul. With a player advantage New York stepped up their performance with Molly showing and moving well on the ball and McKeon surging through the middle while Catriona Brady drove forward at every opportunity.
However the Big Apple girls failed to turn their possession and territorial dominance into scores, while Wicklow were much more frugal and economical as two counter attacks led to points by Carroll and Mulhall. Still despite the dispiriting effects of the wides and the productive counter attacks, New York continued to take the game to Wicklow. Midway Molly weaved and waltzed her way through a thicket of players only to see her left footed effort skin the outside of the post.
New York's persistence and foraging appeared to be eventually rewarded when a classic McKeon run ended with a penalty. Unfortunately the penalty was poorly struck and easily saved, thus killing off the life line that New York so badly needed. Still there was hope as McKeon went in search of that score that would turn the tide but this time keeper Miley dealt with the McKeon missile. New York kept Wicklow pinned back in their own half with Maebdh De Burca finally ending the scoring drought with a point. The chances were still there as Brady intercepted to set McKeon free but Rosie O'Reilly was off target with the shot.
New York's best and most industrious player Molly edged her team within four with just five minutes left on the clock. Then came the killer blow and the best score of the game as a long clearance from sub. Laurie Ahern found Mulhall lurking behind the New York defense and the skillful full forward blasted a powerful shot to the corner of the net. Both sides traded late scores, Sarah Miley for Wicklow and Michelle Brennan for New York, but at that stage the Wicklow ribbons were already fluttering on the cup in the Autumn breeze. Though there is no joy in defeat New York certainly gave it their best shot, the reality was that they were beaten by a much better balanced team with Wicklow definitely having the edge in the offensive department. The defense had been New York's forte but Mulhall, Carroll and the Deeneys were live wires on Sunday. Inevitably the travel also exerted a toll but the whole Big Apple contingent must be complimented for their commitment and comportment during this odyssey for an All-Ireland trophy.
New York: Alison Leyden, Louise Lilly, TA McCullagh, Jesse Garcia, Caroline McBrien, Catriona Brady, Joanne Monaghan, Linda McKeon, Aine O'Dwyer, Molly O'Rourke(0-3), Kelly Roche, Courtney Traynor, Imelda Mullarkey, Emma Clarke(0-3), Maebh De Burca(0-1). Subs. Michelle Brennan(0-1), Claire McElroy, Michelle McVann, Rosie O'Reilly, Mary O'Rourke.
Wicklow: E Miley, J Miley, C Byrne, A Heffernan, L Fusciardi, C McKeon, N Kelly, J Kinch, L Gilbert, A.M. Doran, C Deeney(0-1), M Deeney(1-2), L Hogan, L Mulhall(1-3), N Carroll(0-3). Subs. S Miley(0-1), A Ni Annaidh, L Ahern, C Walsh, G Norton. Referee M Doherty(Wexford), Player of Match Lucy Mulhall.
Mayo hammer New York
New York 2-8
As a New York GAA man it is extremely difficult to find anything positive about the Big Apple's performance in this embarrassing affair, the score line tells its own story and it could have been worse. Still some complained about Mayo's almost insatiable appetite for goals when the game had become devoid of any meaningful competitiveness. Anyway I am not aware of any clemency rule in gaelic football and as the adage goes, if you can't stand the heat get out of the kitchen. From a positive perspective Jason Kelly and Peter Hatzer gave New York an early lead which they held until the thirteenth minute when Seamus O'Shea put his team ahead. New York were reasonably competitive until the last five minutes of the period though Mayo were ahead by 0-5 to 0-2 plus Stephen Sheridan was unlucky to see his shot hit the outside of the post. Then came the deluge, or at least the first part of it, as Mayo hit for four goals with alarming ease to lead by 4-5 to 0-3 at the break.
Sill in search of some positives after the break New York hit for 2-5 with the goals coming from Adrian O'Connor and Mike Jim Fitzgerald while Kevin Walsh and Brendan McGourty both had a brace of points. Still the deluge continued as Mayo would add another 3-6 with relative ease. Still Mayo probably enjoyed the weather, the shopping, and the socializing even if the football did not amount to much, I guess three out of four is not bad. Anyway on a more serious level it is time that The New York GAA critically evaluates its continued participation in this competition It is grossly unfair to the players and the management to expect the squad to perform at an acceptable level when the structures or circumstances are not designed to facilitate an optimal level of performance. The New York championships should be finished the first week in September so that there would be at least six weeks to prepare. We have turned this competition into a farce and a nice junket for a Connacht team and a host of officials. I campaigned many years ago to get New York involved in this competition and now I think that we have greatly disrespected it. I also find it interesting that London are now clamoring to get involved in it, perhaps if New York have neither the interest or respect for this competition, they should let London take their spot. Perhaps they will appreciate the value of the competition. In fairness to Mayo they came with over two thirds of their championship team plus bone fide subs. In contrast New York just threw a squad together for the day. Surely this is no way to treat the FBD or the Connacht Champions. New York can do better and they must.
Mayo: Kenneth O'Malley, Dermott Geraghty, Ger Cafferkey, Eoghan Reilly, Chris Barrett, Richie Feeney, Lee Keegan, Jason Gibbons, Seamus O'Shea(0-2), Kevin McLoughlin, Aidan O'Shea(2-1), Aidan Campbel(0-1)l, Enda Varley(1-2), Alan Freeman(2-4), Cillian O'Connor(2-1). Subs. Mark Ronaldson(0-1), Trevor Hawley, Ronan McGarrity.
New York: Alan Hearty, Joe Bell, Kevin Cardin, Paul Lambe, Lonan McGuire, Ronan McGinley(0-1), Dermot Keane, Stephen Sheridan, Adrian O'Connor(1-0), Kevin Walsh(0-2), CJ Molloy, Tommy Warburton, Peter Hatzer(0-2), Jason Kelly(0-2), James Moynagh. Subs. Gary Lowney, Brendan McGourty(0-2), Mike Jim Fitzgerald(1-0), Mike Creegan, Kevin Rogers.
Referee Ollie Kelly(Roscommon),
Man of Match Aidan O'Shea
Schedule Sunday October 16th
Senior Football K.O. Final
Cavan v Leitrim