They were made to battle, by the sounds of it, but in the end Sligo had enough guile and experience to see off New York in the traditional opening fixture in the Connacht championship in wet conditions over at Gaelic Park, New York. The Magpies won this evening’s (this afternoon’s, if you’re over there) Connacht championship preliminary round match by 1-21 to 1-13.
Sligo seemed to have the contest sufficiently under control in the first half, while never doing enough to put clear daylight between the teams. The Yanks – with ex-Mayo players Tom Cunniffe and Brian Gallagher in their side – hung in there over the course of the opening thirty-five minutes. They would, no doubt, have been very happy to reach half-time just two points in arrears.
A goal by Eugene McVerrity nine minutes after the break hauled New York level and really brought the tie to life. When ex-Donegal player Ross Wherity fired over soon after to put the home team in front for the first (and only) time, the chances of a fairytale (or, depending on your perspective, nightmare) in New York occurring briefly looked good.
It was then, however, that the visitors steadied themselves. Niall Carew’s side took a firm hold around midfield and they began to find their range as well, hitting 1-6 without reply to ease away from their sticky hosts. They won by eight at the finish and no doubt they’ll be happy enough with that margin of victory, not least in light of how their downfall in this tricky foreign fixture had been so widely predicted in advance.
The hard match New York gave them for long stretches today will also do Sligo no harm as they turn their attention to their first assignment on home soil in this year’s championship. This test, is of course, against us at MacHale Park in two weeks time as we battle it out for the right to face Galway in the Connacht semi-final next month.