Thursday, April 10, 2014

Tones and Gaels Compete in New York Sevens

By Rory O'Donnell 

Wolfe Tones and Connemara Gaels took the 3 hour drive down I-95 last Sunday to participate in the John Joe Cassidy 7-a-side tournament in New York's Gaelic Park.  The level of competition was the highest in recent years and New York big guns, Cavan and Leitrim, fielded strong teams.  Although neither Boston team made the semi-finals, each came within a hair of doing so, with some controversy mixed in for good measure!   

The teams were drawn in 2 groups of 5, with the top 2 from each group going into the semi-finals.  The Gaels won each of their first 2 games against Longford and Celtics, an All-American team.  Next up was Leitrim, and old friend, Brian Connor who played for the Gaels in the 2011 season, turned foe as the tall Offaly man lined out for Leitrim.  The Gaels had a man sent off after 3 minutes and were forced to play 6 versus 7 for the remainder of the game.  In the end it proved too tall of an assignment to turn the local team.  A win against Monaghan in the final game would be required see the Gaels into the semi-finals.  It was end to end stuff and there was a whisker between the teams all the way through.  It came down to the last kick of the game.  Monaghan apparently needed a goal from a last kick of the game free, but the ball went over the bar and the Gaels understood that a semi-final place against Cavan was earned - not so, as the Boston visitors found out shortly afterwards.  Returning to the field for the semi-finals the Gaels were informed by the referee that an error was made calculating the scores and that Monaghan had in fact won the game.  A controversial end to the tournament for last year's Boston champions. 

The Tones story was almost identical to the Gaels - although without the controversy.  The 2012 winners of the tournament had similar success in their first 2 games, beating Kerry and Rockland, only to fall to Cavan in their third game.  The Tones were up against it as Cavan are one New York GAA's heavy hitters.  The cause of the Boston side was not helped by the discontinued participation of star player Marty Farrell who suffered a dead leg in the first game and could not continue.  After going down by 2 early goals the Tones struggled all the way through, and the result left them needing a win in the final game against Westmeath to advance.  Westmeath took the early lead and time ran out on the Boston side as the Tones came within a point, but could not close the gap fully. 

The semi-finals were an all New York affair.  Cavan defeated Monaghan in a well contested affair, while Westmeath shocked Leitrim by pulling off a win against their favoured opponents. In the final it was Cavan who emerged victorious. 

Connemara Gaels:  Sean Conneeley, Noel Graham, Chris Lafferty, James O'Donnell, Pat McNicholas, Michael Coyne, Eoin Connolly, Thomas Curran, Eddie Healy, David Burke.  Managers:  Martin Flaherty, Pat Nee. 

Wolfe Tones:  Johnny Kelly, Kian Cleere, Cormac Joyce-Power, Marty Farrell, Collie Carr, Mike O'Brien, Keith Gill, Kevin Lynch.  Manager:  Gerry Prior.

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