The New York GAA Minor Board kicks of its season by hosting the Annual Awards Banquet on Feb. 18, at the Polish Center, 92 Waverly Place in Yonkers. This year the guests of honor are Sean McEvoy (St. Barnabas), Collie Mathers (Shannon Gaels) and the James O’Sullivan Award goes to Pat Guerin (Rockland). In addition, the New York Under -14 All-Star and Minor teams will be recognized. The various Championship, League and CYC winners along with the 2011 players of the year in each age group plus the MVPs will also achieve recognition. The John Clarke and John Brady scholarships will be awarded along with three high school and three college scholarships to active Minor Board players.
Sean McEvoy, the youngest of seven, is a native of Crosserlough, Co. Cavan. He received his primary education at St. Mary’s Crosserlough and his secondary at St. Claire’s, Ballyjamesduff. Sean honed his football skills with the famed Crosserlough team, who were once the kingpins of Breffni football, and later with St. Claire’s team. After arriving in the United States in 1980 he linked up with the Cavan team and played for many years with the Breffni Blues. He continues his involvement in sport by being a major sponsor of several teams in all the divisions of Gaelic sports in the Big Apple. During his time in his adopted city, Sean has been mainly involved in the bar trade and currently he is the proprietor of Danny Mac’s along with Dan Curtin. In 1990 he married Julie Carey and now the McEvoys have two children, Sean and Katie, both avid and skilled footballers. Sean junior has won a host of Minor Board medals with the St. Barnabas club, in both hurling and football, while he has also featured on various New York under-age teams. Daughter Katie has come through the ranks of the Gaelic 4 Girls program, progressing to the Feile teams and also winning senior medals with the Cavan Ladies team. In addition the fleet-footed Katie is also an accomplished collegiate track athlete with Marist. Besides his generous sponsorships, Sean senior is a great promoter of darts, golf outings and youth basketball.
Collie Mathers, the second eldest of four boys, was born in Killeavy, Co. Armagh. Collie began his football journey at Cloghugue Primary School and he continued his educational and sporting careers at St. Paul’s, Bessbrook. He played his college football with Newry Technical College, the Down Vocational Schools and the University of Jordanstown, picking up five All-Ireland medals in the process. His under-age football was played with Killeavy as Collie collected a number of championships before lining out with the senior team while still just a 16-year-old. He eventually captained and managed the team before arriving in New York in 1997. On this side of the Atlantic Collie joined the reformed Down team and played with them for six years while also performing the roles of trainer and manager at various times. He also played senior football with Westmeath as well as lining out for the New York All-Stars and picked up a medal when the Big Apple squad beat London in 1998. After playing for 25 years Collie decided to hang up the well-worn boots in 2005 and become involved in the promotion of under-age football in Queens. His experience and expertise have become a great asset for the mushrooming Shannon Gaels club. He has managed and coached numerous teams while also being a very instrumental player in helping the Club acquire and develop a Gaelic field in College Point. Currently Collie is the Chairman of the club.
When it comes to promoting Gaelic games, Collie is far from a one person show. It certainly is a family affair, as Collie is married to Stephanie Rooney, a native of Longstone , Co. Down. The Rooney clan have a very staunch GAA pedigree and Stephanie and Collie have eight children, between the ages of three and fourteen. Seven of the eight are currently playing with Shannon Gaels while Stephanie also coaches and patrols the sidelines with as much fervor, enthusiasm and energy as her husband does. Soccer moms and basketball fathers often complain about their harried schedules of taking a kid or two to practice, perhaps they should consult the Mathers to see how it is done. Without a doubt the Mathers are giving Gaelic Games a great foundation in Queens. It is hardly an exaggeration to say that they eat and sleep football.
Patrick Guerin grew up in the Bronx where he attended Sacred Heart and St. Philip Neri grammar schools. Long before it became popular for students to study overseas Patrick had the opportunity to split his secondary education between Tarbert Comprehensive, Kerry and St. Raymond’s Boys High School in the Bronx. He graduated from Mercy College with a BS in accounting and later obtained his CPA. Patrick has worked in the financial industry for over 20 years and presently works for AVON. He started his Gaelic football with the Celtics playing all the way from under-10 to junior. In addition Patrick had the good fortune of representing New York at all under-age levels. He is also very proud to have donned the famed green and gold of the Kingdom, his parents’ county. Patrick and his wife Sheila moved to Rockland 20 years ago where they still reside with their four children. In Rockland Patrick continued his involvement in Gaelic games, coaching and encouraging his family to play the games of their ancestors, while also becoming immersed in traditional Irish music and step dancing. He is delighted to receive the James O’Sullivan Award, but just wishes he will be able to say that he has done a thimble of the work that “Sonny” and all the founding members of the Minor Board did in the origins of this special family.
So with a very notable slate of honorees coupled with an array of the Gaelic stars of the future, this promises to be a banner event. The Minor Board continues to be a very bright light on the Big Apple Gaelic sporting landscape as it continues to expand. Currently there are fifteen affiliated teams with Setanta the last one to join the fold. So to ensure your spot at the banquet table call Roger Slattery at 917-574-6759 or Denis Twomey at 347-680-0380, the dinner dance chairmen.