Friday 21 October 2016

'Your feet were burning after about five minutes'

Michael Meehan
Michael Meehan

ONE way of looking at the GAA's perennially bizarre start to the All-Ireland SFC is that each time a team from Connacht successfully beats New York in Gaelic Park is a year closer to that season when one gets caught out and loses.

"It's very possible," says Michael Meehan, whose Galway compatriots travel to the Big Apple today to begin Stateside preparations for that unique Championship occasion plenty of whom have experienced it most regularly describe as a nuisance.

"At the end of the day, if you want to pull off a shot like that, you need a tightknit group that have been working together consistently for a number of months.

"At least London have the league. I know Cavan went out and played them (New York) a couple of weekends ago, and that's something they wouldn't have had in the past.


"It has to be very difficult for them, but when they have raw talent available to them and that are willing to give it a go, anything can happen over 70 minutes so the possibility is always there and the possibility of making it happen has increased if you have a team that is not fully focused on the job at hand."

Former Wexford footballer PJ Bannville and ex-Donegal player, Ross Wherity, are the two most recognisable names on the New York squad list for their clash with Galway in the Bronx on Sunday but largely, the element of the unknown, both with the opposition and the occasion itself, makes it a thoroughly difficult one for which to prepare.

In 2010, Meehan travelled with Galway but didn't play as they were rattled by, but eventually beat, New York by 2-13 to 0-12.

"It's so far removed from your normal championship preparation," Meehan recalls.

"Galway are staying about an hour outside the city, which is the best thing to do. I'd be fairly sure (about) how strict Kevin Walsh will treat the game.

"The pitch as well, I remember, was very warm, with the heat coming off the rubber. Your feet were burning after about five minutes."

To add to Galway's list of inconveniences, they were expected to attend a function for local GAA patronage on a boat in the Hudson, less then 48 hours before their Championship campaign started.


"When you go away like that you have to respect the patrons. But you wouldn't be doing it the Friday before the game here," Meehan points out.

"We got caught in the ash cloud on the way home, too, from Iceland. We had a day extra in New York, which was grand, because it's New York. You find something to do.

"But then we flew home to London, which wasn't planned. Then a bus to Holyhead, and the ferry over to Rosslare, then drive back up to Galway," Meehan concludes. "It was horrible."

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