New York GAA side gain valuable experience at Sligo tournament
Last Weekend, the Sligo GAA U16 development squad played host to their New York GAA counterparts over a 3 day visit to the northwest.
The visit was part of a week-long tour that included training camps and games in Kerry, player testing in Connaught GAA, Ballyhaunis and the last destination being Sligo for some coaching and surfing and games. The tour ended with the New York taking part in the Mary McPartland memorial Tournament.
The tournament, held in memory of the Sligo GAA Coaching Officer, John Mc Partlands late wife Mary, was played out on a glorious Saturday morning in the Sligo Centre of Excellence. Teams from New York, Leitrim, Mayo and hosts Sligo competed in a Short-game, league formatted tournament followed by cup and shield competitions.
Mayo and Leitrim competed in the shield final with Leitrim winning out on a scoreline of 0-7 to 1-2, whilst Sligo and New York played out a heavily contested, physical and highly entertaining Cup Final. Sligo ran out eventual winners on a score line of 0-11 to 1-3.
Speaking after the tournament, Liam Óg Gormley, Sligo Games Development Officer, commended New York players and management on their footballing ability, technical prowess and their commitment to keeping GAA alive at underage levels in New York. "It was fantastic to have NY GAA here with us for the last number of days. To see the lads train and compete at that level just shows the work that is being put in by all the coaches and players in New York. They will be leaving here with their heads held high and if these lads can stick at it, then the future is certainly bright for New York GAA".
Sean Price, manager of the New York development team added "We were delighted to be able to visit Sligo and Connaught GAA for the last few days and we are extremely grateful to all people involved in Sligo GAA for facilitating the trip and their excellent hospitality, especially the host families that took our lads in. We are of course disappointed to not be leaving with any silverware today, but that's natural. In preparation there is little difference between the New York, Sligo, Mayo, and Leitrim development squads. We train like every other development squad in Ireland, committing huge time and effort into keeping Gaelic games alive across the pond. What we do lack unfortunately is that we don't have the availability of high quality matches on a regular basis, that's why this tour was so important for our lads to see that their work is paying off and I'm confident that in a number of years, with more access to games and tournaments like this, you will see the New York GAA teams closing the gap between our counterparts in Ireland."
Daragh Fallon, the Sligo U16 Development Squad manager commented that "preparations commenced about a year ago and through the support of the Sligo County Board, the New York Minor board, Cathal Cregg and the team in Connaught, Sligo players and parents we were able to pull the visit together. It was fantastic to be in Scarden today, to see and feel the community spirit is one of the real beauties of our game. I felt Sligo put on a visit that benefited the footballing development of ourselves and our counterparts in New York GAA."
When asked about where the gaps between the two sides are he added "I can understand Sean's perspective and agree that the only thing that seems to be lacking with this New York team is the experience and access to high quality games, something we might take for granted on this side of the Atlantic. However we now have a framework for this tournament and we will try and build it on every year. It's a lovely way to honour the memory of Mary, and when we do organise next year's tournament, New York will be the first invite on this list".