Friday 23 February 2018

O'Halloran: New York also deserve back door chance

New York manager Justin O'Halloran. Photo: Dáire Brennan / Sportsfile
New York manager Justin O'Halloran. Photo: Dáire Brennan / Sportsfile
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

This time a year ago on their annual conference call to the media, New York manager Justin O'Halloran insisted that it was only a matter of time before they would win a championship game.

How seriously anyone took his comments at the time is questionable. But after getting to within a whisker of one of the biggest shocks in the history of the championship when they got to within a point of Roscommon, people are more likely to listen now.

And ahead of Sunday's clash with Sligo, he wants the GAA to offer New York a route into the back door, something he points out that is afforded to every other team, including London.

"One thing I would like is if New York got into a back-door situation," he says.

"I think it is unfair that London can get into one, and New York can't get into one. Now, possibly that reason was because they haven't been competitive for years, but I feel now that the team is getting better every year and that should be thought about I'd imagine.

"But that's not up to me, it's up the hierarchy."

And if New York do win and progress in the championship, O'Halloran believes it would be a "huge boost" for the GAA.

"Well, the only reason there would be fear (of New York winning) is it would cost a few pound. If it did happen and if New York do happen to win on Sunday or any year, I think it would be great for the GAA to see them lined out playing in the first round of the Connacht Championship. I think it would be a huge boost for the GAA all over the world."

O'Halloran insists getting visas for his side to travel wouldn't be the problem it once was.

"I think we are lucky enough. 90-95pc of our squad now are able to travel. A lot of these lads are out there on graduate visas or whatever. Ten years ago it was harder to get these visas. In the minute we are doing all right in that way."

There has been the usual turnover with the squad to contend with and Brian Connor and Luke McLoughlin are out with injuries. But the acquisition of Dublin hurler Danny Sutcliffe and Mayo's Tom Cunniffe have caught the eye. Man of the match from last year's game with Roscommon, goalkeeper Vinny Cadden, is still in the US as is captain and former Down footballer Gerard McCartan.

Preparations have been aided too by the visit of Donegal for a pair of challenge games and noticeably, New York's price with the bookmakers has been cut significantly this week .

"We got up to speed," O'Halloran adds. "I thought Donegal played pretty much at championship level. It was good for us to get to that level before our actual championship game and see where we were at and prepare boys for being able to handle that, so it was very good."

Last year's near miss is still "bittersweet" for O'Halloran but it only fuels his belief that breakthrough is around the corner.

"Well, obviously the idea is that it is going to be this Sunday. We are hoping for it. Obviously it's going to happen at some stage. Hopefully, the sooner the better for us now.

"We are going on the right track to make it happen. It's all going to be down to the day when the boys step across that line. It's going to be up to them then."

Irish Independent

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