By Patricia Sheridan
New York 2-8, Canada 1-5
Capping off a busy football schedule, the Budweiser New York Ladies captured the runners-up Shield in their first Irish Holidays International Gaelic Football festival held last week at the St. Vincent’s GAA facilities in Dublin.
"What a great competition," manager Philip Sheridan said after the New York women beat Canada, 2-8 to 1-5 on Friday. "It got us over our disappointment in Ballinasloe and the competition can only improve the standard of ladies football."
Sheridan was referring to New York’s narrow loss to Roscommon a week earlier in the All-Ireland semifinal. A victory there would have sent New York to Croke Park.
This marked the first time the Ladies GAA entered the competition that was held at St. Vincent’s. The Irish Holidays started in 1994 and is run every two years. Four teams: Canada, London, North American Board (NAB) and New York started the games off on Monday, Sept. 21, playing a total of four games before the final of the competition on Friday, Sept. 25.
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The New York All-Stars were down six of their panel, who had returned to New York after Ballinasloe opened the competition with a very impressive 2-10 to 1-3 win over Canada. Tuesday evening would see them matched up with old rivals, the North American County Board. New York, playing with a shortage of one player, put up a great fight in a game that was considered one of the best of the women’s competition. With only five minutes to go the sides were level when the NACB converted a penalty and followed with a quick goal from the run of play.
The McKenna sisters, Cathy and Joanne, were on top form up front, scoring all of New York’s scores between them. Kerryann Galvin and Joanna Hoenninger were tough in the back line, with Rosie O’Reilly and Sharon Gallagher having a great hour at midfield.
Next came London and a chance to make it to the final for New York. Despite the efforts of Rosie O’Reilly, who scored a total of (1-4), New York were unable to overcome a strong London team and moved on to play Canada in the runners-up Shield.
The runners-up Shield played on Thursday, Sept. 24, saw a New York side that was improving with every game they played. They made great use of the ball and the bigger field to easily overcome a weaker Canada side. Stars for New York were Mags Dineen, who showed the great football talent that got her on this team, and Catherine Russell, who made constant sprints and tackles up the wing.
Playing in an unfamiliar position at left halfback, Siobhan Neville proved that she is a player to be reckoned with, gallantly fighting for every ball that came her way. Olive Wilson as always was steady at full back with great assists from Mary Toolan and superb fielding by Justine Clifford at midfield.
"It was an unbelievable week," captain Olive Wilson said of the experience. "I have no doubt that we will be back in 2000 to bring the Cup back to New York."
If what GAA President Joe McDonagh alluded to in his speech at the Burlington comes to pass, the competition will be an even bigger and better week, with the possibility of Australia returning to the event.
New York scorers: Rosie O’Reilly 0-4, Mags Dineen 0-3, Sharon Gallagher 0-1, Cathy McKenna 2-0.