THE Mayo senior football squad had a work-out at Gaelic Park today (Friday) ahead of Sunday’s Connacht championship quarter-final here in New York.
The players and management have been settling in over the last 24 hours since they arrived on Thursday evening, and later tonight they will be guests at the Mayo GAA International Supporters’ Foundation Gala at the Cipriani Hotel in Broadway.
Meanwhile, the atmosphere around areas like Manhattan, Times Square, Queens, Woodlawn and Yonkers has been building steadily ahead of Sunday’s match with thousands of Mayo supporters making themselves at home around New York city.
Speaking to The Mayo News Football Podcast, Tony McTigue from The Neale, who has been living and working in New York for almost 17 years, explained how much having Mayo play a championship game in ‘The Big Apple’ means to ex-pats in the city.
“It means so much to the Mayo people out here. Obviously there are still people out here who can’t travel back but for most of us, it’s a great sense of pride to see them out here and we really enjoy them having them.
“My family all came out last week, my sisters and some of their kids, I have a lot of friends that have come out in the last few days, and it’s great to see them and spend time with them.
“Mayo supporters will follow the team anywhere, and there was a great buzz around McLean Avenue last night.”
McTigue is also involved in the Mayo GAA club in New York, while his fellow Neale man, Pauric Maye, is the club’s chairman. All involved in Mayo GFC have been working hard in recent weeks in preparation for Saturday night’s ‘Over For The Match’ event in Rosie O’Grady’s bar on 7th Avenue, which is being hosted by the club, in conjunction with Mayo Banter Page.
“A lot of work has gone into the fundraiser on Saturday night, we’re expecting a great crowd, and we’ve got some great prizes lined up, like a set of jerseys for a GAA club back in Mayo.
“It’s $50 in, payable at the door, and we’re hoping to see as many Mayo supporters as possible there,” he explained.
As for Sunday’s game, the New York GAA chairman, Laurence McGrath told The Irish Voice newspaper here in New York last Monday that it was ‘not sold out’ in terms of match tickets.
“I think that rumour got totally blown up on social media,” said McGrath. “People can come to the park and get a ticket [on Sunday morning], but for how long that will last on the day I don’t know. It will be first come, first served.
“We have done a lot of work in the park and, of course, after the game is when the big renovations will start,” he added, referring to the recent demolition of the old bar complex and the plans to construct two dressing-rooms, a catering facility, and offices in the coming months.
“It’s more than a football game,” he continued. “It’s a big community event. It’s important for the Irish businesses in Yonkers and Woodlawn and Manhattan. And the same goes for the local social life. It’s a great occasion for friends and family to gather.”
“New York GAA have done a lot of work in the last few weeks as regards knocking the old bar that was there and putting up marquees,” said Tony McTigue.
“All we’re hoping for is that on the day everything runs smoothly and goes well.”
There are a number of exhibition matches involving New York development teams taking place on Sunday before the main event between Mayo and New York at 2.15pm (local time).
The action gets underway at 9am on Sunday morning at Gaelic Park.