By John Fallon in New York
Leitrim’s hopes of avoiding being the first side to lose a championship match to New York have been boosted by some west of Ireland weather which is forecast for the opening round of the Connacht SFC at Gaelic Park tomorrow.
The Big Apple has been enduring a heatwave all week and the Leitrim contingent must have feared the worst when they arrived for the weekend to be greet by temperatures of 35 degrees Celcius.
But cooler weather has come during Saturday afternoon and by the throw-in at 2.15pm in the Bronx tomorrow temperatures are expected to be around 17 degrees Celcius with showers promised from midway to evening.
The change in weather will be welcomed by Leitrim manager Brendan Guckian and his men as they bid for a fourth win over the Exiles here in New York.
They know that New York, under the management of Justin O’Halloran, are fired-up and bidding for their first championship win.
Cavan native O’Halloran was on the first New York team which took part in the Connacht championship in 1999 and knows what a win would do for the game here.
New York travelled to Ireland for the first three years of the experiement and while there have been some close calls — such Leitrim having to go to extra-time in 2003, Galway getting a scare in 2010, Roscommon escaping with a one-point win two years ago — the visiting team has won all 16 games at Gaelic Park.
The change in weather will be a boost to Leitrim as they bid to set up a Connacht semi-final meeting with champions Roscommon and former Galway defender Kieran Fitzgerald said that weather can play a huge part.
He has played against New York competitively eight times, three in the championship and five in the FBD League final which usually took place in October each year.
“The weather for the championship match could be testing. It’s usually very hot in New York at that time of year and teams can struggle travelling from Ireland.
“The weather tended to be cooler and maybe wet when we would come out for the FBD League final and that definitely suited us,” said the former All Star who was impressed by what he saw from New York when he travelled out with Corofin to play them last week in a challenge match.
Hundreds of Leitrim supporters have travelled out for the match with many more due to attend not just from New York but from all over the United States for tomorrow’s game at Gaelic Park.