New York’s Galvin has high hopes

Playing for pride might sound trite and defeatist but it has different and meaningful connotations for Ian Galvin as he gears up his New York team to face Mayo in Gaelic Park this Sunday.

Hailed by chairman Liam Bermingham as “the most professional set-up that we’ve had”, the Waterville-born manager’s preparations have been hampered somewhat by what Bermingham says has been the worst winter there in 25 years.

Up until three weeks ago, the players endured training in sub-zero temperatures although Galvin brushed it off as adding “a bit of character to the lads”.

They will need it to end a run of defeats by 16 points or more by travelling Connacht counties since 2011.

Galway were given a scare in 2010 when a late Cormac Bane goal spared the visitors’ blushes and helped widen the margin to seven points. The board’s centenary celebrations has added a buzz to the game, but Galvin says the only people who have raised hopes are the players themselves.

“I don’t know about a heightened level of expectation but we would definitely put a bit of pressure on ourselves. If you’re going to go in there with a negative outlook, you’re wasting your time. We’re looking forward to the game. We think we can, hopefully, perform on the day.

“In fairness to the management that came before, they probably didn’t have the quality of player that we might have now. There has been a massive turnover of players in the last year. We don’t want to be laughed at. We don’t want this to be an exhibition game.”

Speaking to GAA journalists in a teleconference from team sponsors Navillus’ Manhattan offices yesterday, Galvin outlined the group’s bonding trip to the US Military Academy in West Point, upper state New York last weekend.

“Basically, we got up there on Saturday morning, did a bit of a tour and saw Michie Stadium. The college sports facilities over here are probably better than most sports teams would have throughout the word.

“What did we get out of it? I suppose getting away and getting a bit of training done together. We had a team meeting on Saturday night and getting all the guys together for one weekend, which is hard.

“It was an honour to go to West Point and it is something we would love to do moving forward and hopefully it will become an annual event.”

The attitude towards giving Mayo a run for their money is serious but, as Galvin explains, there are difficulties unique to New York that face his players’ preparations.

“A lot of county players at home can put in the hours of training they want whereas in New York we’re not really given that luxury. A lot of guys are working in the bar business so they’re getting home at six o’clock in the morning and sometimes we have to train at 7.30 or 8 o’clock on a Sunday morning so that’s not good for the body. To do that week-in, week-out is tough.”

Meanwhile, chairman Bermingham has defended New York’s participation in the Connacht championship despite their run of heavy losses in recent years.

“I think the criticism really comes from people who are not aware of what it really means to people. The criticism never comes from people that are directly involved. We have the full backing of the Connacht Council, who have been very supportive of us and really they’re the people that make the decisions.

“They’re well aware of what the significance is. It’s not just a football match. This is probably the premier social occasion for all of the GAA fans in the North East of America, where they have the opportunity to go out and see all of these things. It’s much more than a football game.”

Wexford native Sean O’Neill is Galvin’s only injury concern coming into the weekend.

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