In the year when the buzz truly returned to Gaelic Park in the Bronx, it was only fitting that the 1999 New York GAA’s senior football and hurling seasons went out with a bang.
In football, once-beaten Kerry rose from the Div. II ranks to upend a Donegal team that the smart money said had its ticket to the final punched way back in the spring. And in perhaps the most competitive and entertaining hurling match of the season, Tipperary claimed the cup, outdueling Limerick in a high-scoring affair.
A large crowd was on hand for Sunday’s abbreviated championship program, fueling hopes that President Monty Moloney, in his second year at the helm, has put the New York GAA back on the rails after several years of ineffectual and uninspired leadership.
Moloney has long understood that the good health of the organization can only be sustained by reaching out and embracing the full spectrum of the city and region’s Gaelic sports community, What’s more, he has put those beliefs to work. Six months of fast-paced action at the park has showcased a fair number of contests involving Minor Board and women’s teams, sometimes in the featured time slots. Indeed, Moloney and his officers have never wavered in their commitment to put a quality product before the fans, no matter the age or gender of the contestants.
In another stroke of good sense, New York has solidified links with Croke Park. The relationship with the parent organization is now one based on professionalism and respect. The results have been tangible. New York is no longer looked upon as some GAA backwater, but rather, as a legitimate contender on the All-Ireland scene.
It may to too soon to tout a full-scale turnaround in the fortunes of the New York GAA, but it’s clear that the organization is doing the right things. As we close the books on the 1999 season, we do so with our appetites already whetted for the GAA’s return in the new millennium.