Category: Archive

NYGAA: New Yorkers take pair, stun Clare

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

The second match seemed to take its cues from the weather. With the previous Tuesday’s pleasant weather gone, Saturday evening’s ominous sky accurately predicted a match that would be much darker in tone.
Clare set that tone from the start. This may have been a training junket for the Bannermen, but from the throw-in it was obvious that Tuesday’s 6-point defeat had not gone down too well.
This time Conor Whelan of Clare was on New York’s P.J. Ward from the start, and less than a minute in Ward was face down in the square and Whelan had a yellow card for the off-ball incident. Clare were hitting everything that moved, “championship football,” as one Clare partisan described it, and New York were clearly taken by surprise.
Clare had their tails up and scored the first three points against a badly unnerved New York team. Paddy Smyth missed a goal chance when he hurriedly shot wide with the score just 0-1 to 0-0. Ward had to go off briefly for treatment when he picked up a cut as New York tried to adjust to the meaner edge Clare were bringing to this match.
Tadgh Healy was making some inroads at midfield, although he drew a tough hand, matched against Clare’s best and most aggressive player, Dave Russell. Russell had given New York fits in the first match from the wing forward position. Now operating at midfield, Russell was taking lumps out of his hosts and a vicious elbow to the head of Paul O’Connor earned him a red card. Unfortunately for New York, Mark Dobbin was also shown the line by referee Donnie O’Sullivan for retaliation.
Both players were big losses to their sides, with Dobbin having a second outstanding match. But the home side were now beginning to adjust to the cut-and-thrust of this match.
After winning possession in a packed centerfield, James Mitchell fired a long free that was fielded well by Smyth. The corner forward beat his marker and made up for an earlier miss with a gem of a goal. Mitchell was in the middle of things again when he was taken out with a late hit before feeding Pa Murphy, who earned a free. Ward tipped it over the lathe and New York had taken Clare’s best punch and emerged with a 1-2 to 0-4 lead.
The match didn’t exactly go soft in the second half, but it did feature a bit more football and fewer extracurriculars. After a Rory Donnelly free equalized, New York edged ahead on two Ward points, one from a free and one from play. Three Donnelly frees gave Clare the lead at the 20 minute mark.
The New York management team, led by manager Barry O’Neill, had been given a rare opportunity for a New York team — the chance to evaluate the players and strategies against a county team in advance of their Connaght Championship clash. Among the concerns for New York was too much fouling. Conventional wisdom indicated that Clare should be fitter over the final minutes of the two matches. But New York’s hard work in the gym and on the training pitch yielded a team with reservoirs of fitness that they tapped on Saturday for the second time in a week.
Ronan Garvey began to turn the match in New York’s favor with a deserved point after he stripped the ball from a Clare defender and drove over a great point. Murphy, inspiring in the second half in his captain’s role, set up Robert Moran’s point and New York were back on top with five minutes remaining.
Two Ward frees stretched the advantage to a goal as New York battened down the hatches to prevent a late Clare goal. One last Donnelly free was all Clare could manage and it was game, set and match New York.
New York: Evan Byrne, Niall Corbett, James Mitchell, Pa Murphy, Shaun Campbell, Paul O’Connor, Cathal McKeever, Tadgh Healy, Cathal Loughnane, Ronan Garvey (0-1), Robbie Moran (0-1), Mark Dobbin, P.J. Ward (0-5, 3 frees), Brian Newman, Paddy Smyth (1-1)
Clare: Dermot O’Brien, Padraic Gallagher, Brendan Maloney, Conor Whelan, Kevin Dillean, Daragh Kelly, Declan Calnan, Ger Quinlan, Dave Russell, Brendan Crowley, Shane Daniels, Stephen Hickey, Rory Donnelly (0-8, 6 frees), Mike O’Dwyer (0-1), Enda Coughlan.

CLARE 0-14
The first match was played under ideal conditions on a bright, pleasant Tuesday evening at Gaelic Park and the wide-open, free-scoring play seemed to reflect Mother Nature’s largesse.
The home team got on top early to building to a 0-12 to 0-6 halftime lead. New York corner forward P.J. Ward proved unstoppable, with 0-8 in the opening stanza, 0-5 from play. Clare battled back in the second half, switching Conor Whelan on to Ward and making the Gotham target man work a lot harder for the ball.
The Banner pulled to within 2 points, 0-15 to 0-13, with less than 10 minutes to play. With the supply to Ward slowed, New York appeared to be running out of ideas — and possibly legs. Then, when a New York collapse seemed imminent, just the opposite occurred.
Midfielder Cathal Loughnane sparked the home revival when he hustled to block Down a Clare clearance. Paddy Smyth, a recent arrival from Cavan and big pickup for New York, made Loughnane’s hard work pay off with a fine point.
Ronan Garvey followed with a point and then set up Robert Moran for another as New York beat back the Clare rally. Clare managed a point, but the New York response was swift and emphatic when Mark Dobbin and Ward closed out the Banner with the final two points of the match.
New York’s hard working team defense, which including backtracking by all but Ward and Smyth, limited Clare to 0-5 from play. The downside was the 0-8 frees (and one 50). New York’s management also noted the lack of ball-winning midfielders and acted boldly to address that adding Cork midfielder Tadgh Foley, who impressed in his Gaelic park debut last Sunday versus Sligo. Goalkeeper Evan Byrne was also brought back into the picture and his composed play and tremendous kickouts were a stabilizing influence in Game Two.
New York: John McGinley, Mike Murphy, James Mitchell, Pa Murphy, Shaun Campbell, Paul O’Connor, Nobby Smith, Kevin Lilly, Cathal Loughnane, Ronan Garvey (0-1), Robbie Moran (0-1), Mark Dobbin (0-2), P.J. Ward (0-12, 4 frees, 1 sl), Brian Newman (0-1), Paddy Smyth (0-3).
Clare: Dave McInerney, Paudraic Gallagher, Brendan Maloney, Alan Clohessy, Conor Whelan, Kevin Dineen, Declan Calvan (0-1, 50), Peter O’Dwyer, Ger Quinlan, Mark O’Connell, Shane Daniels, Dave Russell (0-2), Rory Donnelly (0-8, all frees), Stephen Hickey, Mickey O’Dwyer (0-2). Sub Mike Turberty (0-1).
This is a far different New York team than the one that went down so meekly to Mayo in last year’s championship. Beginning with last year’s FBD League victory over Sligo, New York is beginning to build an identity as a hardworking side that play well for one another.
The fitness and work rate levels are both high, and in P.J. Ward and Paddy Smyth New York have a couple of potential match winners. Forwards like Dobbin, Garvey, Newman, and Moran work tirelessly for possession, can score when they get the chance, and Dobbin and Garvey are particularly adept at long-range passes.
The back line is less settled, although Paul O’Connor is an unshakeable force at its center. Captain Pa Murphy can be inspirational, but he must keep the fouls to a minimum. Shaun Campbell has been solid over two matches and Cathal McKeever is a real find at wingback.
James Mitchell started both Clare matches at full back, but with his strength and ball-winning skills he seems better suited to playing farther out in the field. Niall Corbett, Matthew Mitchell, and Nobby Smith are among those fighting for the remaining one or two spots in the New York defense.
Cathal Loughnane started both matches at midfield, partnered in the first by Kevin Lilly and then by Tadgh Foley. All three had their moments, but these vital positions seem far from set.
This was a good week for New York and manager Barry O’Neill said later that he was “very happy to get the matches.” Galway in the Championship figure to be a much tougher proposition than Clare, but New York take a lot of positives away from these matches and should have learned more than a little about themselves. Just how helpful that will be we will see on May 15, when the Tribesmen invade Gaelic Park.

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