And his quality. Last year, Vinny Cadden almost brought Roscommon to their knees. On six occasions, he denied them a goal and yet the former Sligo U21, who was tried in the seniors’ goal during the 2014 FBD Connacht League, still kicks himself about Roscommon’s penalty goal.
“It’s all part of the job of being a goalkeeper, you’re meant to save them,” New York’s vice-captain modestly recalls of last year’s one-point loss. “I didn’t hold too many of the shots so I was delighted that the backs were there to pick up the loose balls afterwards. The lads made me look good by tidying up.
“ From one to 15 and the boys that came on, everybody put in a massive shift – it was just unfortunate that we just feel short.
“It was such a sinking feeling coming off the pitch, it was just that one point. And then you are questioning yourself, if whoever might have taken that score or if I had made that save. This conversation could be a lot different if I had saved that penalty. But it only encouraged everyone to build on it and go all guns blazing this year.”
Cadden wants the bragging rights against his former team-mates and fellow Coolera-Strandhill club-mates, the likes of Keelan Cawley and Niall Murphy, the in-form midfielder who’s currently injured. “I’m always chatting to the lads between WhatsApp and SnapChat and everything, slagging each other and stuff like that. You are always in contact with them.”
Still surreal to face them? “Definitely, 100%. It’s been strange, training at the thoughts of Sligo coming out to play us. But I’m looking forward to it now, training has been going good, preparation have been going well.”
Cadden notes Sligo have trained on astroturf surfaces such as Connacht’s GAA centre of excellence outside Ballyhaunis to acclimatise for Gaelic Park’s artificial pitch. “You can imagine that they are leaving no stone unturned. From chatting with the lads when I was back home last year, they don’t miss anything, they look into everything.
“Definitely no team wants to be the first (to lose to New York) or whatever. But chatting to the lads back home and stuff, they are definitely all nervous. They are all considering it a banana skin alright, but I can still see them coming out with a strong mentality to play the game but we’ll be here ready and waiting for them.”
Cadden has fellow Sligo men for company on the New York panel in Colin Keane and Eoin Flanagan. “Three of us are really looking forward to it now. It’s an added buzz with all the family and friends travelling over.”
City slickers: The men lining out for New York
Niall Carew would have had an opportunity to look at the Coolera-Strandhill man prior to him emigrating to the US. Lined out on a couple of occasions for Sligo in 2012. Man of the match in last year’s New York-Roscommon game.
The Castlebar Mitchels man was corner-back when Mayo went down to Dublin in the 2013 All-Ireland semi-final. Opted out of Stephen Rochford’s panel prior to last year’s championship.
A member of Kevin Walsh’s panel last year, Cunnane was an U21 All-Ireland winner in 2013.
Naomh Micheál man Witherow, 30 this year, was part of the Donegal set-up under Brian McIver, John Joe Doherty and Jim McGuinness.
He left after that season to concentrate on academic studies.
The captain will be lining out in his fourth consecutive Connacht opener for New York tomorrow. McCartan departed the Down panel in 2010, the year they reached the All-Ireland, but then led Burren to a county title a month later and rejoined the panel.
The Ballylongford man made two appearances for Kerry in the 2014 league having been an U21 in 2012 and ’13 and a minor in 2010 and ’11.
Like his fellow Mourne man, Quinn is one of the “long-termers” in New York having moved there in 2013. The Mayobridge man is making his fourth SFC appearance too.
Midfielder against Roscommon last year, Gallagher left for the US initially for a year at the end of 2015. The Claremorris player had featured on the Mayo senior panel in 2014.
On the bench for 2015 and ’16, Hogan is the one native on the starting team. The St Barnaba’s player lined out for New York in last year’s GAA World Games in Dublin.
The man who many believed accelerated the retirement of Tommy Walsh from inter-county hurling, St Judes’ Sutcliffe (above) is tipped by manager Justin O’Halloran to impress here having left the Dublin panel two years ago.
A rangy, strong footballer, Avondale’s McGraynor had been one of Wicklow’s few shining lights prior to cross the Atlantic. The 24-year-old, who made his senior county debut in 2010 under Mick O’Dwyer, has starred for DCU in the past too.
This is Wherity’s second appearance in the Connacht SFC for the Exiles having lined out in 2014. Originally St Eunan’s, he scored a key goal for Donegal in the 2013 Ulster win over Tyrone and was an AFL triallist.
Truagh Gaels man McKenna, who won an award for his performances for Dundalk IT last year, had been a part of Malachy O’Rourke’s group in 2015 and ’16. He led his club to an All-Ireland intermediate title in 2014.
A Sigerson Cup winner with DIT in 2013, the St Sylvesters man played in the competition up to 2015.
A fellow Mullaghbawn club-mate of Kieran McGeeney’s, McVerry left Armagh at the end of last season. Now 27, he is expected back in September and New York is one of the last stops on a year of travelling.