The rain fell by the bucketload in Gaelic Park, New York, this afternoon but the miserably wet and cool conditions did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of the huge crowd – the bulk of them from Mayo – crammed into the Bronx venue. Many of them had been there for hours by the time this match got underway. Once it did –following a minute’s silence for the late, great Eugene McGee and the rendition of both the Irish and American National Anthems – it was a contest that the League champions smothered in short order.
We made one change to the team named in advance, with Colm Boyle starting instead of Chris Barrett at corner-back. Four minutes passed before the game’s first score arrived, Evan Regan knocking over a free at the Broadway end to get us going.
Debutant James McCormack doubled our lead with our first from play and soon after captain Paddy Durcan blasted over when we claimed possession from the restart.
New York had continual problems with their kick-outs in the early stages but, fortunately for them, we had roughly equal trouble in the shooting department. A succession of balls won in the middle led to a number of spurned scoring chances for us.
Another Evan Regan free increased our lead to four. Then a nice move initiated by Aidan O’Shea led to our next score. Aidan found Jason Doherty who offloaded to Matthew Ruane, with the Breaffy player feeding Evan Regan who shot over.
Another layoff by Aidan saw Fergal Boland open his tally with a sweet outside of the boot effort. As the scores continued to be spread around, the next point was another debutant one, coming courtesy of James Carr.
We kept driving at them. The next attack saw Jason Doherty in on goal, the New York keeper parrying his shot over the bar. Then Lee Keegan lashed over our ninth unanswered point with an outside of the boot effort from distance.
Kevin McLoughlin took us into double digits with our next effort at the posts. Seconds later the Knockmore man knifed through again and knocked it over.
Evan Regan, with his fourth, and Jason Doherty, with his second, pushed us further clear in a competition that was already resembling a training session. Then Fergal Boland fisted over before, with 30 minutes on the clock, Offaly native Luke Kelly finally opened the home team’s account with a well-taken point from play. The same player bagged their second a few minutes later.
Darren Coen notched our fifteenth point after that, which meant that all six starting forwards had now scored from play. Then, on the stroke of half-time, Evan Regan put the contest to bed by finding the net. The Ballina player’s first shot was saved by Vinny Cadden but he made no mistake with the rebound.
1-15 to 0-2 down at half-time, there obviously was no way back for New York from there. Indeed, it could have been far worse for the hosts at that stage, as eight of our lads shot a total of eleven wides in the opening half.
Early in the second half we made our first change, with Ciaran Treacy making his Championship debut as he came on for Jason Doherty. We opened our second half account when a Colm Boyle shot was deflected out for a ’45 and Robbie Hennelly trotted upfield to ram over the placed ball.
We began to run the bench in earnest now. David Drake and Michael Plunkett – the latter making his first Championship appearance – joined the fray, replacing Keith Higgins and Lee Keegan respectively. The Ballintubber man quickly marked his debut with a point from play.
New York’s frustrations grew as we attacked again, James Carr getting hauled to the turf by Michael Creedon. The New York player was already on yellow and should really have walked but Conor Lane decided on this occasion to keep his cards in his pocket. Evan Regan popped over the resulting free.
Another debutant was sprung from the bench, with Conor Diskin getting his first taste of Championship football, Darren Coen making way. It was another newbie, though, Ciaran Treacy, who bagged our next score, a nice one from distance. This one came after the Yanks had notched their third score of the game, once again from Luke Kelly.
We had our 21st point on the board – with Stephen Coen and Andy Moran having come on by now – before the home team got their fourth score, this one a point by Tiernan Mathers. We added one more for the road, as we ran out the easiest of winners by a not at all flattering twenty-one point margin.
So a facile win it proved to be in the Bronx for us. The lads did everything right to ensure that this happened, by coming out of the blocks with the right intensity and running up a big score before New York managed to raise a flag at the other end at all. That was exactly what we needed to do to quench any hopes the home team may have had of making a contest out of this game.
The fact that we had so much elbow room to play with by half-time meant that the bench could be run to the full after the break. With the intensity levels having dipped significantly from the first half, it wasn’t exactly a white-hot environment in which the three lads made their Championship debuts in the second half but it was still great to see Ciaran Treacy, Michael Plunkett and Conor Diskin get their first taste of action at this level. Their introduction brought to six the number of players we gave Championship debuts to today, a further sign of how James is moving rapidly to deepen his playing panel.
There’s now a gap of just under three weeks – with a short Stateside training camp to come before the squad heads home – before our next Connacht Championship match, in which we’ll face the winners of the Roscommon/Leitrim game. That’s sure to prove a stiffer test than the one the lads dealt with in such a trouble-free manner at Gaelic Park today.
Mayo: Robbie Hennelly (0-1, ’45); Colm Boyle, Brendan Harrison, Keith Higgins; Paddy Durcan (0-1), Lee Keegan (0-1), James McCormack (0-1); Matthew Ruane, Aidan O’Shea; Evan Regan (1-5, four frees), Jason Doherty (0-2), Fergal Boland (0-4); Kevin McLoughlin (0-2), Darren Coen (0-1), James Carr (0-2). Subs: Ciaran Treacy (0-1) for Doherty, David Drake for Higgins, Michael Plunkett (0-1) for Keegan, Conor Diskin for Darren Coen, Stephen Coen for Ruane, Andy Moran for Carr.
Who was our Man of the Match against New York?
- Evan Regan (37%, 269 Votes)
- Fergal Boland (20%, 146 Votes)
- Aidan O'Shea (12%, 87 Votes)
- Matthew Ruane (4%, 29 Votes)
- Paddy Durcan (4%, 27 Votes)
- James McCormack (4%, 26 Votes)
- Lee Keegan (3%, 20 Votes)
- Jason Doherty (3%, 19 Votes)
- James Carr (2%, 18 Votes)
- Colm Boyle (2%, 14 Votes)
- Kevin McLoughlin (2%, 14 Votes)
- Darren Coen (1%, 9 Votes)
- Andy Moran (1%, 9 Votes)
- Brendan Harrison (1%, 8 Votes)
- Ciaran Treacy (1%, 8 Votes)
- Robbie Hennelly (1%, 6 Votes)
- David Drake (1%, 5 Votes)
- Stephen Coen (1%, 4 Votes)
- Keith Higgins (0%, 2 Votes)
- Conor Diskin (0%, 2 Votes)
- Michael Plunkett (0%, 1 Votes)
Total Voters: 549