Exiles face uphill battle against Leitrim
By Simon Lewis, New York, Sourced on IrishExaminer.ie
AS IF life isnt difficult enough for the New York footballers, an injury crisis has been added to the list of exiles woes ahead of tomorrows Connacht SFC clash with Leitrim at Gaelic Park.
The usual complaints of a continuing player drain from the Big Apple and lack of match practice still apply, not that you will hear them from New York Manager Paddy Kearney and his selectors Pat Scanlan and Willie Lowry. Yet Kearney now has to cope with the loss of some of the key players he did actually have at his disposal. Kearney has a quartet of fellow Kerrymen either missing or doubtful while he lost the services of goalkeeper David Hopkins over a player registration issue with the North American board.
Beauforts Damien Breen and Spas Ross Donovan will both be absent through injury while Glenbeigh midfielder Ken OConnor and Beaufort forward Dan Doona, are both struggling with injury. Given their experiences with the Kingdoms panels at minor, U21, and in Doonas case, senior level, their absence would be another cruel blow to the New York cause.
Kearney places some of the blame for the injuries on the new all-weather Fieldturf surface at the redeveloped Gaelic Park, which played host to the first All-Ireland Championship match on an artificial surface 12 months ago when Sligo beat New York.
Greeted as a godsend as it enables training through the harshest of New York winters, particularly now that lights have been installed, Kearney is aware of the irony of it having also brought a spate of injuries.
"I know its beenÓgreat for Gaelic Park and to be able to train there, but I dont think its the best for training," said Kearney.
"The two big injuries that were getting now seem to be shin splints and quads which is very strange. And a lot of boys have beenÓgoing over on their ankles.
"Some blame it on not wearing the right boots but weve had different people going over and theyve nearly all had different types of boots on so it cant be that."
Doona is coming back from a quad muscle injury and missed a recent run out against a hastily-assembled scratch Boston side at Gaelic Park in the Bronx, in which the home side were beaten by the visitors.
"That was not a good sign," Kearney said of the defeat before adding, "Dan was not sure about playing but he gave it a shot and lasted about 15 minutes."
Match practice has been Scórce, with the only other tune-ups coming against visiting Kerry champions Feale Rangers and an Irish Army side.
"One national league game (for the inter-county sides) is as good as two months training for us," Kearney said.
"But we wont cry. Leitrim will be bringing a very strong squad and the most we can do is give it a shot."
One of the plus sides for Kearney is the emergence of a core of homegrown New York footballers on the senior panel.
"On the panel I would say we have seven or eight Irish-American players that have come through from the minors and that bodes well for the game here. I really enjoy working with these young fellas because they absolutely love playing."
Due to the injury doubts, Kearney will wait until the last possible moment before naming his team, but based on previous selections against Feale Rangers and the Army, New York could lineout with American youngster CJ Molloy, nephew of Donegal All-Ireland winning captain Anthony Molloy, among the forwards. Leitrim native Alan Foley could face his brother, free taker Michael Foley, while defensive cohort Sean Munnelly will also be playing against his home county and American forward Thomas McGovern has a father from Leitrim.
If the 6ft 5in OConnor overcomes knee and hand problems he will lineout in midfield alongside his 6ft 7in brother Adrian OConnor. If he fails to pass fit, Robbie Moran will drop from the forwards into midfield.
NEW YORK probable (SFC v Leitrim): P Ryan; S Munnelly, J Mitchell, A Power, A Foley, D Keane, L Maguire; A OConnor, R Moran; M Higgins, D Hartnett, M Dobbin, D Doona, L ODonnell, CJ Molloy.
10-May-08 by IrishExaminer.ie