GAA officials in New York are confident that the huge reduction in the number of players heading from Ireland this summer will not have a negative impact on the games there.
Indeed, they are hopeful that it will present a further opportunity for homegrown players in New York to progress after adopting a policy a few years to concentrate on developing their own players.
The indefinite suspension of J-1 visas used by students, the travel bans imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, and the likely hectic summer of club and inter-county fixtures here, are set reduce the number of players travelling to the USA this year.
But Joan Henchy, chairperson of the New York County Board, doesn’t think it’s going to have a negative impact in the Big Apple.
“I would disagree with the suggestion that the lack of J-1 would depopulate our season. I can only speak for NY and not that of USGAA,” she said.
“We have an abundance of home-based players, American-born players who have come of age and a healthy vibrant underage structure comparable to any county.
“This is very evident with results at Féile na nGael, and World Games.
The Rockland club located in Orangeburg are leading the way with regard to developing homegrown players.
Founded in 1972, they cater for hurling, Gaelic football, ladies Gaelic football and camogie and field over 20 teams across the four codes.
Rockland, one of 32 GAA clubs in New York, have over 850 playing members and around 10% of their underage players have no Irish connection.
Club chairman Jim McGirl said that 95% of their playing members were born in America.
“We think it’s quite obvious that all clubs need to put more focus on the American-born players, focus on what’s available rather than lament about the challenges that immigration have presented,” McGirl said.