For the second time in exactly 12 months, Johnny Duane finds himself back in Gaelic Park. As much as he was an ever-present at corner-back for Galway last summer, the opportunity to spread his wings couldn’t be turned down.
And so, tomorrow, he finds himself leading out a New York team he opposed last May. With little time left to take up a graduate visa to the US, it was a case of now or never for the St James’ man.
“It was obviously a massive call. Leaving Galway football was obviously hard for myself. But it’s something I’ve always wanted to do, to go travelling, and it was my last chance to get a visa to America so it was just something I couldn’t turn down. I’m loving it at the moment and the fact that you can play inter-county football over here is a big advantage.”
At the moment, his intention is to return home in November but he’s aware his circumstances could change. Kevin Walsh would be sure to take him back with open arms if that’s the case.
“I had a good chat with Kevin before I left. He was very helpful. He said if there was anything he could do to help me out he was fully behind me and he understood my decision to come over here.”
With the shoe now on the other foot, Duane understands the trepidation the visiting team will bring with them to New York. “Obviously, it’s nerve-wracking when you’re coming out here but in New York we have nothing to lose here at all. All the pressure would have been on us last year. You’d feel that pressure leading up to the game, it’s always at the back of your mind, ‘What if we’re the first team to lose out here? What happens if we lose and get knocked out of the Championship?’
“That’s the pressure Roscommon will have this year. They’re obviously going to have that in the back of their mind, thinking, ‘We can’t be the first team to lose out here’.
“And vice versa – we’re saying that we want to be the first team to win out here. It’s hard to do but I’m sure they’re used to it. They’ve probably been in this position before, some of them have probably played over here (Cathal Cregg makes a third such trip to New York) before so they’re used to it.”
Duane’s former team-mate Micheál Lundy is also in New York but hasn’t made himself available. Duane, though, is joined by fellow Galway man Johnny Glynn who turned down advances from the new hurling management to remain in New York.
“I wouldn’t have seen him play much at home,” admits Duane. “He played a couple of years with Caherlistrane and he’s good athlete a big strong lad and he has a good head and he’s a great addition.”
A lack of competitive games is what troubles Duane the most. “It’s a big disadvantage and with Roscommon playing in Division 1 they have everything going for them in terms of game time and preparation but there is nothing we can do. There are no other county teams over here, obviously, so we just have to play what’s in front of us, play it hard, and hopefully perform on the day.
“Obviously, the (Roscommon) lads have a big advantage at home with your FBD in Connacht, and league games. Out here, you don’t have proper game time but the training is good and the we’ve had club championship already and that will stand to us but the big disadvantage is having no league and no competitive games but training has been going good and we’ve had tough sessions and as long as we perform as 70 minutes, anything can happen.”
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