By John Fallon
Almost 5% of the population of Leitrim has travelled to the Big Apple to cheer them on as they try to avoid becoming the first county to lose a Connacht SFC game to New York.
Over 1,500 people have made the journey from Leitrim — the county’s population is just over 31,000 — as they try to score their fourth win over New York at Gaelic Park.
New York, with Armagh’s Jamie Clarke leading their attack, are confident of a first win in 20 games in the Connacht championship on a day when the Exiles will mark the 90th anniversary today of the first game to be played at Gaelic Park in the Bronx.
But Leitrim have travelled in force with hundreds more of their supporters coming from New York and all along the east coast of the United States.
Connacht Council chairman Gerry McGovern, himself a former Leitrim chairman, said that the fixture has become a huge event for emigrants and for their families back in Ireland.
“There are over 1,500 out here from Leitrim, maybe more that we aren’t aware of yet, but it is a great opportunity for them to meet friends and families.
“New York and London are very much part of the Connacht GAA family and there is a great connection between the province and the two cities.
“But that’s not surprising given that you would find it difficult to find a parish or club throughout Connacht that doesn’t have someone living here or in London.
“This annual match is a great opportunity for people to link up and we are delighted so many have again travelled from Ireland. It promises to be a great occasion at Gaelic Park,” he said.
Rain is expected this afternoon in New York with a full house expected at Gaelic Park for a match which will start at 7.15pm Irish time.