'This can be our year,' says New York boss who names experienced squad to face Mayo

12 players with Senior inter-county experience are included in the New York starting line-up to face Allianz League champions Mayo in the Connacht SFC at Gaelic Park on Sunday.

'This can be our year,' says New York boss who names experienced squad to face Mayo

12 players with Senior inter-county experience are included in the New York starting line-up to face Allianz League champions Mayo in the Connacht SFC at Gaelic Park on Sunday.

Six players are set to make their debuts in the New York colours, including Niall Madine from Down who will skipper the side from full-forward.

Madine has played club football in New York previously, and took time out from the Down squad in 2017 to travel to America, before returning to the Mourne County set-up last year, where he featured in the Championship.

Roscommon's Cathal Compton and Kildare's Sean Hurley are also set to make their New York debuts at midfield; as are Galway native Michael Naughton; Westmeath man Robert Gorman, and Peter Hatzer from Crossmaglen.

Injury-ravaged Hurley stepped away from the Kildare panel in 2017, after the former Aussie Rules player had hip problems.

Sligo's Vinny Cadden returns between the posts for New York this weekend, while last year's captain Gerard McCartan; fellow Down man Paddy Boyle; Mayo's Matthew Queenan return to the defence.

New York manager Justin O'Halloran says 23-year old Queenan has brought a lot to the squad.

“He's a young kid now and I have to say the off-season he put in on his own in November, December and January to get ready for this game.

“He's in phenomenal shape. The difference in him between last year and this year is crazy, but he is a great leader, and a great motivator and fellas look up to him.

“He played in an All-Ireland semi-final not too long ago, and I think this is his last year with us, as his visa is up, so I am assuming he will be in with the Mayo boys next year because he is definitely good enough.”

New York manager Justin O'Halloran. Pic: Sportsfile
New York manager Justin O'Halloran. Pic: Sportsfile

Six New Yorker's are included for Sunday's game in the Bronx.

Two natives are included in the starting 15, including Shane Hogan who has been a firm part of the New York squad since 2012.

Hogan captained New York to a GAA World Games title in Croke Park in 2016 - his second appearance at GAA Headquarters, having played Minor football there for New York in the Connacht Championship against Roscommon five years previously.

Fellow New Yorker Michael Creegan is included in defence to face Mayo this weekend.

Patrick Guerin, Shane Slattery, Ryan Kerley, Tiernan Mathers are the other American born players in the squad.

New York are searching for their first win in the Connacht Championship, and O'Halloran says year-on-year there's more confidence creeping into the squad that 'this can be our year'.

“I've noticed every year there's a bit more confidence in lads, and bit more of an appetite that maybe we could do this," he said.

"I recall back to 2016 having a conversation with Brian Connor, who was our captain that year; and telling him with a week to go to the game that we were going to win, and he kind of looked at me and was wondering 'I know we are a good team, but how do you figure out we will win?

“We haven't won a game and we have been beaten by 20 points every year. I said that the way we are going we are going to win. Unfortunately, we didn't win, but every year it's been easier to tell these guys that we are good enough. They believe in themselves a little bit more now I guess.

“It's a bit more difficult this year to try and bring in that winning mentality, because obviously in my book if you go by results Mayo are the best team in the country right now. There's no doubt about that – they are the National League champions. It's a little bit more difficult to try and get that winning mentality built in, but like I always say, we set ourselves goals. If we are within five points at half-time, that's our number one goal.

“In the second half with 10 minutes to go if we are within that six or seven points then we'll just open the shackles and go for it. We might as well be beaten by 10 or 15 points, as beaten by one.”

NEW YORK (Connacht SFC v Mayo): Vinny Cadden; Michael Creegan, Gerard McCartan, Robert Gorman; Paddy Boyle, Michael Naughton, Matthew Queenan; Cathal Compton, Sean Hurley; Shane Hogan, Luke Kelly, Daniel McKenna; David Freeman, Niall Madine, Peter Hatzer. Subs: Patrick Guerin, Conor Connolly, Tony Donnelly, James Maughan, Shane Slattery, Ryan Kerley, Kevin Finn, Tiarnan Mathers, Conor Healy, Dillon McDermott, Fergal O'Brien.

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