Hope springs eternal as sweeney bids to add bite to Big Apple
HOPE springs eternal in the city that never sleeps.
New York manager Seamus Sweeney runs the rule over his side ahead of tomorrow night's Connacht SFC clash with Galway and surmises that the Big Apple outfit are "as strong as they have been in quite a few years".
The side will be largely unrecognisable from the one which shipped a 17-point defeat in the FBD league final played last October in what was Joe Kernan's first game in charge of the Tribesmen.
"There's been a big turnover since then, with some lads coming in and a few more going home," explained the Donegal native. "We're in better shape then we have been, on paper anyway it's a stronger side."
Training started last February, with the squad coming together three and four times a week. Former Kerry prodigy Dan Doona is available once more after stepping away from the team last year. Pat Madden, also from Kerry and a former county underage player, has also recommitted, while Longford's Paul O'Hara is another leading light.
"Our biggest problem is getting games against the right sort of opponents. We played Boston recently in a challenge, but there wasn't too much we could take out of it, it was a bad day and we had injuries. That's always been our problem."
"As I said to the lads, the mistakes we make are the exact same ones you'd see in any McKenna Cup match in January back home. We make mistakes then try and put them right in the next game, but sometimes the next game doesn't come."
Sweeney has Connie Molloy, brother of 1992 Donegal All- Ireland winning captain Anthony, as his selector, along with Jessie O'Halloran. Mickey McNeill and Tony McTeague look after the training.
"I don't think we'll be too far off Galway in terms of fitness. These lads have put in a lot of work in that sense.
"It's been all ball for the last six weeks or so, trying to get things right -- we've left no stone unturned."
New York centre-back Alan Rafferty will line out at centre-back against his fellow county men, while forward Johnny Murtagh is a clubmate of Kernan's from Crossmaglen and played in the 2009 All-Ireland club final against Kilmacud Crokes.
The New York Board have also entered a minor side into the Connacht Championship.
"If we had another couple of players we'd be a strong side. It's a big day for all of us, but we know how difficult it's going to be, we're under no illusions."