This was just as bad a debut as could be imagined for New York’s recently appointed management team. To be fair, new supremo Leslie McGettigan and his two selectors, Frank Brady and Money Moloney, have only had a few weeks to cobble together a squad.
Still, the word emanating from the Gotham camp was optimistic coming into this match versus the defending FBD champs. New York started something of a new look side, when compared with the team that gave Sligo a fright back in May.
That team, with a winter’s worth of hard work behind them, played hard and worked well as a unit, before ultimately fading. By contrast, this New York edition opened in shaky fashion, missing early from both frees and play, losing an opportunity to take an early lead as John O’Mahoney’s young Galway side settled.
Galway finally opened the scoring with an eighth-minute point from full forward Nicholas Joyce. The young No. 14 proved an able deputy for Pauric Joyce, who remained in Ireland representing his country at Croke Park versus Australia in the Compromise Rules competition. He wasn’t needed as Galway, with several players fresh off their U-21 All-Ireland victory, showed far too much quickness, pace, tenacity, and combination for their hosts.
The Tribesmen extended their lead with Alan Kearns’s goal as both Kearns and center forward Matthew Clancy, who set up the goal, outran their markers. Wingback Michael Colleran added another point, before New York finally hit the target.
Full forward P.J. Ward was the scorer, pointing in the game’s 16th minute. Ward came right back with a second point off a good pass from Pauric Graven. New York appeared to be finally settling to their task, buoyed by some excellent defensive work from corner back David Hughes and wingback James Mitchell.
Mitchell’s 23rd-minute point, after good work from Martin Coll, brought New York in sight of the visitors, trailing by only 0-2. With 7 minutes remaining in the opening half, a strong finish was imperative for the home side. Instead, it was Galway who struck paydirt. Michael Meehan banged home Galway’s second three pointer of the half as New York’s defense scrambled unsuccessfully to clear two rebounds. Kearns tacked on another Galway point, and the writing was on the wall.
The torrential rains of recent days left the center of the Gaelic Park pitch better suited to Wellingtons then Pumas and Adidas and the slick ball gave players from both teams problems throughout.
Trailing 2-3 to 0-3, McGettigan, still an active footballer for Donegal at both the Junior and Senior levels, turned to two of his own clubmates in an effort to get New York back on track. Niall McCready, who had been back in Ireland, and Kevin Lilly both reported to bolster the New York attack, but the defense was unchanged despite a somewhat ragged first-half performance.
At the restart, Galway picked up where they left off, with another Meehan goal. Clancy tacked on Galway’s fourth point, before McCready led New York on a brief and futile revival.
Martin Slowey, playing despite a leg injury picked up in last week’s Senior B Championship victory for Monaghan, pushed forward from his cornerback spot to pop McCready’s pass over the bar. Then McCready playing a roving corner forward, pointed on a play he initiated.
Big Ken O’Connor then pointed only seconds after checking into the match at corner forward, rather than his more accustomed centerfield position. Just as New York’s hopes began to rise, disaster struck again. Full forward Joyce was there when a long ball carried over the New York defense, leaving him all alone on New York’s beleaguered keeper, Eunan Doherty.
Doherty never had a chance and when the green flag was waved, New York were truly sunk. The home team never scored again, while Galway sent a procession of scorers into the book.
Silver linings were hard to come by on this dreary October afternoon, as New York were soundly thrashed in every sector. Martin Coll and Diarmuid Hurley worked hard at midfield, although they got little in return for their efforts. Hughes and Mitchell had the most success on the most unsuccessful day for the defense while only McCready showed much in a punchless forward group.
This was considered a first test for McGettigan and company and this exam yielded a resounding F. The final will take place next spring versus Leitrim. That leaves New York almost seven months to study, train and find the answers that were in short supply on Sunday.
Man of the Match: Alan Kearns
Galway: Alan Kane, Tomas Meehan, Kieran Fitzgerald, Richard Murray, Michael Comer, Diarmuid Blake, Michael Colleran (0-1), Sean O’Donnell, Kieran Comer, Alan Kearns (2-1), Matthew Clancy (0-4), Lorcan Colleran, Michael Meehan (2-0), Nicholas Joyce (1-2), Derry O’Brien (0-1). Subs: Barry Dooney (0-1), Pauric Lilly (0-1).
New York: Eunan Doherty, David Hughes, Jason Killeen, Martin Slowey (0-1), James Mitchell (0-1), Kevin Newell, Pat Quinlavin, Diarmuid Hurley, Martin Coll, Eric Bradley, Michael Slowey, Fergal O’Neill, Pauric Gravin, P.J. Ward (0-2), Noel McPartland. Subs: Niall McCready (0-1) Ken O’Connor (0-1), Kevin Lilly, Paddy Sloan, Anthony Power.