By Mike Fitzpatrick
Presided over by Junior Football president Seamus Dooley, Thursday’s New York GAA meeting in the Lansdowne Bar in the Bronx attracted a capacity crowd.
The first order of business was the formation of the Junior "A" division. Seven clubs will participate in Junior football’s premier competition. The teams finishing in the top four positions will automatically qualify for the Junior "A" semifinals.
The opening fixtures for the Junior "A" Division are as follows: Rangers will take on Fermanagh, Donegal will face old nemeses Rockland (a game that drew excited gasps from those), and Westput Gaels will face Dublin (a tie that this "jackeen" promises to stay neutral for). Down will receive a bye. Dooley stated that it is almost certain that all of these games will take place in the coveted 1 p.m. slot at Gaelic Park, as opposed to at Van Cortlandt Park.
The Junior "B" Football Championship is a tad more complicated, but only because there are 18 teams involved Three divisions of six sides each comprise the "B" football set-up. It is generally regarded that the six best sides are included in Div. 1A. The first round of games in 1A are as follows: Stamford vs. Cavan, Astoria vs. Kerry, and Monaghan vs. Rockland.
Div. 1B was drawn up to reveal these three opening games: St. Raymond’s vs. Brooklyn, Sligo vs. Armagh, and the lads from Roscommon vs. St. Barnabas.
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The games in Div. 1C include Rangers vs. Westmeath, Mayo vs. Celtics, and newcomers New Haven vs. Tyrone.
Three teams from each Junior "B" division will qualify for the playoffs. The winners of 1A will automatically enter the semifinals of the championship, with the runners-up and the third-placed team playing off against each other for another semifinal spot. The third berth will go to a team from Div. 1B. The runners-up and the third-placed team in 1B will play each other with the winner playing off the side that finishes top of the division, for the third place in the semis. The same will happen in Division 1C.
At the regular meeting, GAA President Monty Moloney opened with a letter from Rockland Football Club requesting the lifting of the suspensions of John Fitzpatrick and John McNamara. This request was granted, though it was suggested that next time, it would be far more difficult to have a previously suspended player resume playing within the New York leagues.
That was good news for Rockland, but there was even greater news was to follow for the New York GAA. Budweiser have agreed to come on board once more, agreeing to sponsor the organization to the tune of $125,000, a 50 percent increase from last year.
Other news included a letter from the Irish Army’s Kevin McStay, requesting information concerning the Army’s upcoming tour of New York, where they will play two games against Frank Brady’s All-Ireland contestants. Moloney commented on the fantastic level of commitment by the army, and their meticulous planning should be rewarded with a warm welcome in New York, and for the GAA to return this outstanding dedication and efficiency toward them.