Mayo's Fergal Boland takes the game to New York. [Inpho/Emily Harney]

Positives for NY in Mayo loss

Mayo 2-21 New York 2-6

Though Mayo finished up with 15 points to spare, it was far from a one-horse race. Many would complement New York for hitting 2-6 against the best team in Connacht, and Mayo would be ranked in the top five in the country. In a sense it pitted a bunch of novices against a troupe of seasoned championship campaigners. New York was forced to assemble almost a new squad as over two thirds of last year’s crew was unavailable due to a purported medley of inhibiting factors. 

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Perhaps the contrast in perigee between the opposing squads is well illustrated by the fact that New York fielded several American-born players, products of the Minor Board and few had ever played championship football while Mayo had Connacht and National League medalists plus a few pervious all-stars in their ranks. Indeed if you suggested that New York would rattle Mayo for two goals, your sanity might’ve been seriously questioned. 

Meanwhile, New York started very aggressively and they certainly they weren’t  overawed or intimidated by the perceived chasm in their respective statuses or standings. They tackled tenaciously and tigerishly and forced turnovers but unfortunately they wasted a few viable scoring chances. However, when Mayo gained possession an incisive run by Fergal Boland drew a foul, which their best player Ryan O’Donoghue duly pointed. Mayo almost followed the minor with a major but Paddy Durcan’s shot hit the bottom of the upright. When play switched to the other end, Frank O’Reilly, the 40 man, had his penetrating run illegally stopped, but Joey Grace’s free just drifted wide. New York won the Mayo kick-out and a long delivery was well fielded by Killian Butler and belted over the bar. New York kept the pressure on and the Mayo defense was tested by front men Argue and Bolger, but the scores didn’t come. Then circa the 10-minute mark Mayo began to find their groove and also their targets. Aidan O’Shea, Mayo’s longest serving player, picked out O’Donoghue with a well delivered pass and the corner forward popped it over. O’Shea hit over the next free after midfielder Mathew Ruane was fouled. By the end of the first quarter Mayo had added two more points, the first from an O’Donoghue free after Tommy Conroy was fouled, the second a fine long range effort from  O’Donoghue, Mayo’s scorer in chief.  

New York's Shane Brosnan and Tiarnan Mathers in action against Mayo at Gaelic Park.
[Inpho/Emily Harney]

On the 20th minute New York temporally stalled Mayo’s momentum as Killian Butler belted over another fine point to leave the score at 0-5 to 0-2 with a quarter left in the first half. Well, Mayo dominated and dictated matters for the remainder of the period, they put 1-6 on the board while holding New York scoreless. The scoring spree began with a goal from O’Donoghue after Eoghan McLaughlin supplied the pass. Defenders such as Coyne, Brickenden, Callinan and company were interacting smoothly with the attacking unit and the points began to flow over mainly from O’Donoghue, and Jack Carney also added to the tally which had mushroomed to 1-11 to 0-2 at the break. Indeed it could have been worse for New York but keeper Joey Grace kept the onion bag from bulging with one of his fine saves. 

With the deficit at 10 points at the break, the situation did not look good for New York. In fairness to the Big Apple Boys, though, they didn’t threw in the towel. The score sheet will show that Mayo added another 1-10 to their tally, but New York hit their supposedly vastly superior and formidable opponents for 2-4, that’s 10 points. The two goals were brilliantly struck and definitely kept the record-sized crowd very much engaged. The area adjacent to Manhattan College was beginning to look like New York’s Hill 16. Cillian O’Connor, arguably the top player in the country at one time, got introduced to the fray at the interval, and he immediately made his presence with a deft pass to O’Donoghue, resulting in a point. 

New York answered quickly as Shane Brosnan passed to Robert Wharton for the other wingback to score. Mayo looked to be still calling the shots as O’Donoghue pointed another free and captain Paddy Durcan sauntered up for a point.  Then, came the best score of the match, a goal from Frank O’Reilly, he was the last link in a four player field-sweeping movement down the right wing. That major strike was a badly needed tonic for the New York supporters.  

The goal was quickly cancelled as Mayo hit back with three points courtesy of O’Donoghue, Darren McHale and Fergal Boland.  Then as New York supporters’ spirits were sagging, they got another major boast. This time it was from captain Jamie Boyle, a long-distance from his fullback position, but he timed his run perfectly to take Liam Kearney’s pass at top speed and sent a rasper to the net. 

That major strike was again quickly negated by Mayo. Paul Towey was heading for goal when he was upended, resulting in a penalty. Cillian O’Connor calmly put the spot-kick away and now the score stood at 2-17 to 2-3 with just less than a quarter to play. Cillian O’Connor responded quickest with a point after an Aiden O’Shea goal-bound effort was deflected, and Paul Towey added another. 

At the other end, Frank O’Reilly, New York’s best player, added a brace. Mikey Brosnan came on a sub and he had a noticeable impact while adding his name to the score sheet. Mayo kept attacking and goal-hunting but keeper Joey Grace executed a few brilliant saves, preventing Aidan O’Shea, Paul Towey and Sam Callinan from scoring goals. Mayo’s late scores came from Jack Carney and Ryan O’Donoghue. The game got a little untidy toward the end with a few minor scuffles, basically handbag stuff with the texture of the jersey being tested.  Incidentally O’Donoghue had a very prolific afternoon, scoring 1-13. 

Mayo were deserving winners, but New York definitely exposed some flaws in their set up, especially in the concession of two goals, plus their failure to maximize their possession with scores. Though New York lost by 15 points, I’m sure manager Alan O’Mara and his backroom team will see plenty of positives in this performance. The squad looked quite fit and they never dropped the head or threw in the towel when the game was getting away from them. The future of New York football to a very large extent depends on developing local talent, and that was certainly very evident this year with close to a dozen of the panel being American-born players.  It’s hard to believe that so many of last year’s players were unavailable this year. You would imagine that last year’s historic victory would be the platform or spring board for more involvement and achievement by those involved .So perhaps this squad can be kept together, strengthened and developed and hopefully take down some of the less formidable teams in Connacht in the years to come.              

Mayo: Colm Reape; Jack Coyne, Rory Brickenden, Sam Callinan; Paddy Durcan(capt,0-1), Stephen Coen, Eoghan McLaughlin; David McBrien, Matt Ruane; Bob Tuohy, Fergal Boland(0-1), Jack Carney(0-2); Aidan O’Shea(0-1), Tommy Conroy, Ryan O’Donoghue(1-13). Subs. Cillian O’Connor(1-1) for Bob Tuohy, Darren McHale(0-1) for Davis McBrien, Enda Hession for Stephen Coen, Michael Plunkett for Eoghan McLaughlin, Conor Hunt for Paddy Durcan. Paul Towey(0-1)for Tommy Conroy, 

New York: Joe Grace; Shane Bulger, Jamie Boyle(1-0,capt), Tadgh O’Riordan; Shane Brosnan, Cian O’Dea, Robert Wharton(0-1); James Walsh, Emmet O’Connaghaile; Tiarnan Mathers, Frank O’Reilly(1-2), Pierce Lillis; Sean Reilly, Michael Argue, Killian Butler(0-2).Subs. Liam Kearney for Sean Reilly, Jordan Ajani for Shane Brosnan, Mikey Brosnan(0-1) for Michael Argue, Israel Ilunga for Shane Bolger, Adam Loughlin-Stones for Tiarnan Mathers Referee Martin McNally(Monaghan), Man of Match Ryan O’Donoghue.