No fairytale for New York
New York 0-8
AS expected, Mayo encountered very little resistance on a day when the four seasons paid a visit to the Bronx but, of course, the game between the Connacht champions and the Irish emigrants was only a very small part of the story of a hugely significant weekend for the GAA in New York.
A crowd of around 4,000 people flocked to Gaelic Park to attend this ‘Mayo Gathering’ on Sunday and many made friends and memories that will last a lifetime.
Mayo will be quite pleased with the professional and efficient way they took care of business against a New York side that offered little in the way of an attacking threat.
They set up to try and frustrate Mayo, and slow down the pace and tempo in the early stages. But they were fighting a losing battle and Mayo cruised to victory without ever having to over-extend themselves.
The winners were nine points clear at half-time (0-11 to 0-2) but it was four second half goals that glossed the final scoreline with the O’Connor brothers, Diarmuid and Cillian (two penalties), and Enda Varley all hitting the net.
“Travelling out of the country is always a tricky affair so we were just trying to focus on getting ready for the game as best we could,” said James Horan afterwards.
“We did okay. We hit full speed for a couple of minutes during the game and came out with the result fairly injury-free, and we’re just looking forward to the next game now.”
A broken nose for Kevin McLoughlin was Mayo’s only major casualty, and they now have five weeks to prepare for an away day against either Leitrim or Roscommon when their credentials will be properly tested.
The gap between the sides in terms of fitness, strength and conditioning and quality was obvious from the early stages and Mayo led from pillar to post.
The excellent Donal Vaughan will go down in the record books as the first scorer in Championship 2014 thanks to his point after 28 seconds, and a steady flow of scores helped Mayo to put the game away by half-time.
New York set out their defensive stall early, ‘parking the bus’ in front of their goal and trying to block Mayo’s runners.
However, the tourists were able to pick off points from distance with Andy Moran, Jason Gibbons, Cillian O’Connor, Kevin McLoughlin and Lee Keegan all hitting the target.
Aidan O’Shea, who lined out at centre-forward, was also denied a spectacular goal by the woodwork.
New York only managed to trouble the scorekeeper twice in that opening half with former Laois midfielder Brendan Quigley and Jason Kelly (free) raising white flags in the fifth and seventh minutes.
Unfortunately, the Exiles went almost forty minutes without another score after Kelly’s long-range conversion, with Mayo racking up 1-8 at the other end in the meantime.
Championship debutant Diarmuid O’Connor (19) put in an excellent shift and marked the historic occasion with a goal just seconds after the restart.
It was at that stage that many in the capacity crowd began to drift towards the burger stalls, hot dog stands and bars.
The game was up for New York.
Mayo did just enough to keep the scoreboard ticking over from there to the final whistle.
Aidan O’Shea (3), Enda Varley and Cillian O’Connor all helped themselves to points, but it was the three goals in the last quarter that sucked the air from the contest.
Cillian O’Connor tucked away penalties in the 55th and 62nd minutes after Enda Varley and Brendan Harrison had been fouled, respectively, and Varley completed the rout on 72 minutes with a close-range tap-in.
“Overall it was a productive day,” reflected James Horan afterwards.
“Diarmuid O’Connor did well, Seamus O’Shea was back in the middle and did well, I thought we were strong defensively, and, overall, I thought there were some positive things to take from it.”
The hard work will start for Mayo when they touch down in Ireland today (Tuesday) but they have taken their first step in the right direction.
R Hennelly; T Cunniffe, K Keane, K Higgins; L Keegan (0-1), C Boyle, D Vaughan (0-2); A O’Shea (0-3), J Gibbons (0-1); D O’Connor (1-0), S O’Shea, J Doherty; K McLoughlin (0-2), A Moran (0-2), C O’Connor (2-5, 2-0 pens, 4fs).
Subs used: E Varley (1-1) for McLoughlin (inj, 35); R Feeney for Doherty (HT); T Parsons for Gibbons (42); A Dillon for D O'Connor (44); C O'Shea for Moran (54); B Harrison for Higgins (58); D Coen for C O'Connor (68).
G Joyce; R McGinley, G McCartan, K O’Connor; K Scally, P O’Connor, D O’Sullivan; B Quigley (0-1), A Raftery (0-1); P Boyle, J Kelly (0-3, 2fs), R Wherity (0-1); J McGeeney (0-1), K Quinn, G O’Driscoll (0-1).
Subs used: C McCormack for K O'Connor (HT); N Farrell for Boyle (39); L Maguire for Farrell (62); J Huvane for O'Sullivan (66).
Referee: P O’Sullivan (Kerry)