a bridge too far for New York

Offaly 3-17 New York 0-11

Offaly cruised into the Tailteann Cup semi-final with a relatively easy win over New York at Connor Park, Tullamore on Saturday afternoon. The folks at Big Apple GAA were very happy to see New York get a second game by entering this inaugural competition. However, even the most positive pundits should agree that this correspondence was a bridge too far on a number of accounts, but then of course you should beware of US President Harry Truman’s warning that if you don’t can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. Perhaps the vibe on the porch could have been more accommodating for New York footballers.

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The reality is that New York received a baptism of fire in this new competition. They went into the quarter-finals, against a team that had already won two games, and Offaly was in National League Division Two. Indeed, some would argue that they could be serious contenders to win the Tailteann Cup. Then, New York’s situation was made worse by the fact that they were forced to travel without half a dozen crew members, with the omission of Mark Ellis and Niall Madine being the most impactful. Accommodations were made in the competition regarding travel logistics, but the reality was that New York would have been much more comfortable playing against some of the other teams in the preliminary round. New York v London would have been an interesting game.

Meanwhile, the exchanges seemed balanced early on, although Jack Bryant opened the scoring it was quickly answered as Mikey Brosnan and Adrian Varley combined well to set up Jack Reilly for a score. Indeed, Reilly would go on to become New York’s most productive player. However, soon the quicker Offaly boys began to spray the ball confidently into open spaces and thus push the New York defense out of the way. Free fouls duly ensued and Niall McNamee was on hand to blast them. New York was still very much in contention and appeared to be headed for a score, but an indiscretion of two straight jumps undid the promising surge. The simple mistake cost dearly as the ball was then swiftly sent to the other end as Keith O’Neill timed his run perfectly to hit a long Rory Egan delivery to the net after ten minutes. Offaly was now in full attack mode and they would hit the woodwork twice, before McNamee added two more runs.

Then, in the 20th minute, Adrian Varley scored a good point for his team, but Johnny Moloney responded with an equally spectacular score after going solo on half the pitch. New York was getting more involved in the final quarter as Jack Reilly pointed out after good supporting play from Tiernan Mathers, Mikey Brosnan and Varley. Jack Reilly then picked up his third point to cap off a good move started by Dan Sullivan. The mini goalscoring spree was cut short when goalkeeper Paddy Dunican landed a long-range effort from the ground. (Incidentally, Saturday would have been a busy day for the keeper, as he left his sister’s wedding to line up for his team.)

When the game went to the other end, Johnny Glynn gave Jack Reilly another chance. Things still seemed to be going Offaly’s way as a long ball from Niall Darby looked destined for the goalmouth, but with some help from the wind it went over the crossbar. Over the period, Offaly displayed two vignettes of superb skill, namely two points from very acute angles, one of Rory McNamee and the other of Niall Darby respectively. Then, just before the short whistle, Anton Sullivan scored, with Jack Bryant filling in the final pass to leave the score line 2-10 at 0-5 at the break.

Although Offaly was against the breeze in the second half, few changes were made to the pattern of play. The home side picked up four points in the opening five minutes as Sullivan, O’Neill, Rory McNamee and Bryant all added minors. There could also have been a major, but goalkeeper Cunningham saved superbly from Bryant. Now that victory was a sine qua non, manager John Maughan sportingly began to lead his bench. However, given that Maughan’s bench was made up of part of the All Ireland Under-20 squad, there would be little reprieve or respite for New York.

In fairness to New York, although the scoreboard looked dismal, they kept their composure and discipline to rally as hard as they could. They put the next three points on the board, a Sean Reilly ’45’, while Connell Ahearne impressed after netting a fine effort from long range, and Varley clocked in from a mark.

A point from Niall McNamee and a goal from under-Cathal Flynn left no doubt that Offaly was still in control. As the game wound towards its inevitable conclusion, Offaly got quite sloppy, dropping several short balls and hitting bad wides. New York went three behind through Varley (2) and Aherne, while Jack McEvoy rose to complete a very impressive tally for his side and secure a place in the semi-finals in four weeks.

Overall, Faithful County had far too much firepower and pace for the overworked Yanks, whose defense was too often easily and consistently exposed by a highly functional front sextet. Although on offense, New York did well to get 11 points with rather limited possession. It’s also worth noting that New York pitched six American-born players, and there were a few more on the panel.

While previewing the match, mainstream media said New York last played Ireland against Roscommon in 2001 and they had never played Offaly before. For the record, the first statement is true, but the second is false. Records show that New York and Offaly, the defeated All-Ireland runners-up in 1969, played Tullamore in October of that year. New York went 0-11, to Offaly’s 1-9. New York led most of the way, but a very solid finish from Offaly saw them through with a late winner from Nicholas Clavin, who was man of the match. Sean Cooney was the lone scorer, while New York scorers were Dessie Ryan (0-3), Mick Gannon (0-3), Pat Diamond (0-2), Paddy Cummins (0-1), Joe O’ Driscoll (0-1) and Mickey Niblock (0-1). Martin Furlong was Offaly’s goalkeeper, while some of his notable teammates included Kevin Kilmurray, Larry Coughlan, Willie Bryant and Eugene Mulligan.

Offaly: Paddy Dunican (0-1), Lee Pearson, Declan Hogan, Niall Darby (0-2), Rory Egan, Johnny Moloney (0-1), Cian Donoghue, Conor McNamee, Jordan Hayes, Bill Carroll, Ruari McNamee ( 0-2), Anton Sullivan (1-0), Jack Bryant (0-2), Niall McNamee (0-6), Keith O’Neill (1-1). Subs. Cathal Flynn (1-1) for Carroll, David Dempsey for Egan, Morgan Tynan for R McNamee, Jack McEvoy (0-1) for O’Neill.

New York: Michael Cunningham, Colin Keane Jamie Boyle, Alan Campbell, Shane Brosnan, Paddy Boyle, Dan O’Sullivan, Ger McCullagh, Johnny Glynn, Peter Fox, Sean Reilly (0-1), Tiernan Mathers, Adrian Varley (0- 4), Jack Reilly (0-4), Mikey Brosnan. Replaces Adam Stones for Fox, Connell Aherne (0-2) for McCullagh, Danny Corridan for J Reilly, Conor Mathers for S Reilly. Referee Martin McNally.

Tipp defeats Hoboken

Tipperary 6-20 Hoboken 1-9

This senior hurling clash, between what were once considered close rivals, was very one-sided from the throw-in. In the first two minutes, Tipp got points from Henry Keyes and Declan McGrath as well as an effort tied to the goal that bounced off the post. Tipp appeared to be in control on the pitch as their tenacious defenders kept tight control on the Hoboken frontline as their efforts were quickly repelled, clearing the way for Peters, McGrath, Butler and company to land points at the other end.

Tipp had six points on the board before Hoboken raised his first flag with a nice point. Paul Gordon and Declan Fahey quickly followed with another. Tommy Kavanagh landed a fine effort from long range before David Pond, despite being well surrounded, released the ball to Henry Keyes, to send it to the net. Tipp continued to dominate as more goals came from Joey Grace, David Pond and Henry Keyes and points were added by Mark Ellis and Declan McGrath.

Tipp cruised into intermission on a 4-11 to 0-8 scoreline, with Paul Gordon, Dara Walsh, Conor Sheedy and Declan Fahey leading the Jersey Boys flag raisers. On the restart, Hoboken enjoyed a brief productive spell, to go 1-2- on the board, the goal came from Harry O’Connor and points from Dara Walsh and Paul Gordon.

Then it was back to Tipp’s scoring script as they would add another 2-9 to their impressive tally, with Liam Donovan and Daragh Peters the goal forwards. Granted, the game was pretty one-sided, but I’m sure Hoboken will be a more formidable force as the season progresses. It’s also really nice to see that a few US-born players are pretty good at hurling.

Tipperary: Keith Robinson, Nick Kerwick, Darragh Hynes, Johnny Burns, Francis Kenroy, Mark Ellis, Seanie O’Brien, Gearoid Kennedy, Declan McGrath, Ross Butler, Darragh Peters, Tommy Kavanagh, David Pond, Henry Keyes, Joey Grace. Subs Padraig Gill, James Woods, Brian Powers, Mike Sheedy, John O’Neill, Dylan Grace, Liam Donovan.

Hoboken Guards: Cillian McNamara, Padraic Morrissey, Brendan Furlong, Gary Bennett, Eoin Kiely, James Rodgers, Conor Sheedy, Declan Fahey, Kevin Hannigan, Dara Walsh, Jack Morrissey, Will Maloney, Enda Fahey, Paul Gordon, Harry O’Connor. Replacements Paul Loughnane, Maurice Sweeney, Padraic McNamara. Referee Noelle Comyn, man of the match Darragh Peters.

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