By Mike Fitzpatrick
Twenty-nine players from the New York football panel showed up for training on Sunday at Lincoln High School in Yonkers. Another handful of injured players arrived to watch their teammates being put through a hellish two-hour training schedule under the ever-demanding trainer Leslie McGettigan.
McGettigan, running alongside his players, could be heard all over the park, barking instructions at his committed band of footballers as they sweated their way through another successful session under the watchful eye of manager Frank Brady.
"Brady’s Bunch" seem to be gelling nicely with strong camaraderie developing among the players. Regular turnouts of 30 and more players over four months before the eagerly anticipated All-Ireland clash versus Mayo is surely an encouraging sign. A team photograph taken at the end of the session is another positive indicator: Here were 30 footballers, many of whom have played against each other during the regular season, laughing and joking together as if they’d been together as a team for years, not merely four training sessions.
But to take this to mean that the players and management are not 100 percent focused on the job at hand would be a dreadful mistake. McGettigan is nothing if not wholeheartedly involved and thoroughly committed to this side and one player (who will remain nameless lest he receive some "preferential" treatment at the next session) was given to state: "Ah sure, we’re well used to Leslie shouting and roaring at us."
One relevant, if a tad bizarre story doing the rounds in GAA circles right now involves Mayo footballer Kieran McDonald. Arising from a seemingly purely speculative piece in the Irish tabloid The Star, the story, by Star reporter Keiran Cunningham, stated quite vehemently that McDonald is currently upset with the Mayo selectors, and has missed two consecutive games, despite not being injured. The Star put two and two together and came up with a bag of turnips. The fact that McDonald played here last summer for Leitrim, under — you guessed it — Frank Brady, and that the New York side will face Mayo in the Connaught championship, has added fuel to this fire. It is generally considered that the piece was written to stir some feeling between New York and Mayo.
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Cunningham states that Frank Brady has gone so far as to have "penciled McDonald into his plans for the Mayo clash." This was news to Brady, as he didn’t seem aware that he had done any such thing. The report also claims that the New York GAA is "awash with money," and that many well-heeled exiles are prepared to "bankroll home-based players." Just who these players are and more to the point who these high rollers are, remains to be seen. Perhaps Donald Trump is an avid follower of the junior football scene, or perhaps while the NBA lockout was ensuing, Spike Lee and Woody Allen began hanging out at Gaelic Park as opposed to Madison Square Garden. But let’s not dwell on gossip.
The New York side are surging forward with Brady adamantly insisting on full turnouts at training sessions. These are exciting times for New York football. It’s enlightening to witness the good atmosphere among the players and coaches.
Training is going well and despite the snowy conditions recently, McGettigan and Brady want to take advantage of any day when the conditions are not completely dreadful, by training outside. With two games versus the Irish Army fast approaching, the panel must be in top physical shape. With Leslie McGettigan "shouting and roaring" his players toward physical perfection and the wily professor Frank Brady at the helm, the "Brady Bunch" are well on the road toward GAA history.