By Pierce O’Reilly and Connie Kelly
New York 1-11
CANTON, Mass. — Rivalry boils the blood and controversy keeps it pumping. New York and Boston GAA know all about both. On Saturday at sunny Canton, two great exile Irish GAA communities went to battle.
New York traveled with passion and pride. Boston, on the other hand, looked arrogant, playing on home soil and with home support. The game itself was entertaining and keenly contested.
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Boston, with a sprinkling of Connemara Gaels players, inflicted a killer blow midway through the second half and the Big Apple outfit never recovered. The wounded New Yorkers went down fighting and the small crowd that witnessed the affair no doubt went away wanting more such clashes.
This was a wholehearted encounter that was full of tense, tenacious tackling. New York manager Paddy Kearney lifted the rafters before take off at Canton and his troops had fire in their bellies from the off.
Across the hall in the Beantown dressing room, Martin Kerr was calmer. The quality credentials on the wooden benches would frighten most opponents. All-Ireland medal winner Micheal Geoghegan was at full back, Louth’s John Neary at wing back, Meath’s Nigel Regan at full forward and Clare’s Des Molohan on the wing.
The undulating, open terrain at pristine Canton seemed to baffle the visitors in the opening 15 minutes. Boston spread every attack wide and to the wings and traveled the grounds with much more fluency. Early points from Kevin Lilly and Cavan native Eddie Reilly settled the New Yorkers’ shaky early nerves on the huge pitch, but Boston bounced back in style. Michael McGinty and the energetic J.P Rooney swooped behind the visitor’s defense and rifled over two great points.
Man of the match Eunan Doherty was majestic between the sticks for New York.
Matt Beatty pushed Boston one in front before Monaghan native Martin Slowey set up Kevin Lilly for a peach of a goal for New York. There was no red carpet for the Tyrone club player on this occasion and Slowey didn’t wait for the plaudits.
Following the New York goal, Gary Dowd put the visitors further in front with another good score from the right wing. Boston, however, dominated the final quarter with some great fielding from Mark Lukeman and deadly accurate passing from Clare’s Molohan and Meath’s Regan in attack. Garry Comerford hit a lovely individual score to narrow the gap, while Regan hit two from frees to leave the sides level. Annuscaul clubman Jamie Driscoll responded for New York with substitute Ronan Garvey and Peter Loughran added two more points before the changeover to leave the visitors one in front at the halfway mark, 1-6 to 0-8.
The second half saw both managers giving a run out to their entire panels. Lilly hit the opener of the second half for New York. Tempers flavored over the next 10 minutes with both sides eager to get in front. Paul Higgins landed a point for New York after 10 minutes but they failed to build on their lead. At the other end, the fitter and slicker Boston boys were finding their rhythm. Ross Hainsworth sent over a beauty from 40 yards out while the Boston backs took complete control of a reshuffled New York attack. Wing back Richie Fleming, Molohan and J.P Rooney hit points for Boston in a purple patch midway through, while full forward Regan was always dangerous.
New York looked rocked and shocked. Ken O’Connor arrived off the bench and inside of a minute had the visitors on the score sheet again. With five minutes to play, the sides were level 0-12 to 1-9 for New York. In the closing minutes, both sides played their hearts out.
Hainsworth, Regan and Rooney pushed Boston in front before Lilly and Eddie Reilly pegged them back. The visitors, however, couldn’t close the gap after Regan hit two late frees.
New York: Eunan Doherty, Keith Murray, Paul O’Connor, Darren Rocks, Martin Slowey, Kieran Ryan, Declan Boyle, John Meehan, Pat Mahoney, Kevin Lilly 1-2, Eddie Reilly 0-1, Gary Dowd 0-1, Niall McCreedy, Peter Loughran 0-1, Jamie Driscoll 0-1. Subs: Martin O’Connor, Tadgh Foley, Pa Murphy, Ken O’Connor 0-2, Noel Buckley, J.P. Boyle, Francis Sheridan, Bobby Murphy, Ronan Garvey 0-1, Paul Higgins 0-1, Micheal O’Se 0-1.
Boston: John Flaherty, Lar Bardon, Micheal Geoghan, Hugh Campbell, Richie Fleming 0-1, Kevin Comer, John Neary 0-1, Garry Comerford 0-1, Ross Hainsworth 0-1, Des Molohan 0-1, J.P Rooney 1-3, Nigel Regan 0-5, Matt Beatty 0-1. Subs: Kieran Cox, Michael McGinty 0-1, Mike Doherty, Pat O’Malley, Benny McGettigan, Emmett Murphy, Ken Killeen.