Restoring pride the target for New York

PA MURPHY leads New York against Galway in tomorrow’s Connacht SFC first round clash, believing the exiles’ new-look panel can restore pride with a team spirit much stronger than in previous years.

Former Kerry minor and U21 Murphy, at the age of 26, is one of only five survivors from last season’s New York panel which hit rock bottom in the Connacht SFC championship with a miserable 3-28 to 1-8 defeat to Mayo.

It was a humiliation which left many in New York GAA circles wondering whether there was any future for the side at inter-county level.

However, under new manager Barry O’Neill, a Tyrone man initially brought in as trainer, and with former boss Pat Scanlan staying on as a selector, the New York panel is fitter, leaner and much more committed to the exiles’ cause.

“There are no big superstars on the team,” said Glenbeigh/Glencar man Murphy. “Everyone fights for each other and everyone has each other’s back.”

Meanwhile, Tom Brewster will be forever remembered as the man who buried Armagh where it counts - on the hallowed sod of Croke Park.

He gave Fermanagh fans a moment to live in the memory with that famous left-foot strike which rivalled Johnny McGurk’s superb effort against the Dubs in 1993.

Less than a year on, his back is to the wall in a quiet room in the Bawnacre Centre in Irivinestown as he faces the tape recorders.

“Tom Brew” looks extra lean and pale and not all too keen to reminisce even though THAT point was a defining moment.

“It was the first time in 30 years that Fermanagh beat Armagh so they have more happy memories of meeting us than we have of meeting them,” he said.

“And, of course, it is a big motivational thing for them to get revenge.

“As far as we are concerned, this is 2005 and we have yet to make our mark.

“Last year doesn’t count and I don’t think about the point; it’s history.”

This year’s build-up could not have been more different from last year when hacks came from everywhere to write an Erne obituary and instead stayed for a party which lasted until well into August.

“We are much stronger this year also and have big names like the Gallagher cousins, Ciaran Donnelly and Ryan Keenan all back on board.

“This gives us a lot more options. Instead of worrying about Armagh we are now thinking about our own options, our own performance and are confident in our own ability.

“We have a lot of good footballers in this squad, but we want to gel well and prove that last year was no fluke,” he said.

“We have to keep beating the top level teams to stay at the pinnacle,” he added.

One journalist helpfully suggested that another big season like the last two would make people say that Fermanagh had finally arrived.

Brew’s reply is quick: “I don’t think they would ever say that.

“I read an article about Billy Morgan of Cork saying he was suicidal after we beat them in Croke Park last summer.

“He felt that bad about being beaten by Fermanagh.

“Obviously that is the way a lot of people view us.”

Armagh might not be feeling as suicidal if Fermanagh prevail - after all it will not be a new experience for Joe Kernan’s men.

NEW YORK panel: E Byrne, N Corbett, S Campbell, P Murphy (capt), P O’Connor, J Mitchell, T Healy, C Loughnane, R Garvey, R Moran, M Dobbin, PJ Ward, B Newman, P Smith, S Larden, M Murphy, M Donaghy, M Mitchell, N Smith, B Moran, S Flynn, M Keaveney, J McGinley, P Maguire.

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