Feast of goals keeps the faithful happy in the Bronx
A chilly night in the Bronx on Saturday saw this year’s All Star exhibition match run to form with the 2012 winners recording a decisive win over their 2011 predecessors. It also ran to form in the sense of being a feast of goals and famine of intensity but the crowd of around 1,000 appeared to enjoy themselves.
It wasn’t all mellowness for Donegal manager Jim McGuinness, who was in charge of the winning selection. In his two years to date, which led to this year’s All-Ireland you’d imagine the thought of conceding eight goals would have been the stuff of nightmares but maybe he enjoyed the change of emphasis – after all 8-17 would win most championship matches.
More seriously his captain Michael Murphy lasted only a few minutes before injuring ligaments when kicking a ball and having to be replaced in evident discomfort.
The 2012 team was clearly on top for most of the match and got forward more convincingly throughout the match with half backs Karl Lacey and Lee Keegan helping to drive them forwards.
Had early goal chances been taken the result would have been even more one-sided but the goal-frame was rattled several times in the early exchanges with Brendan Kealy’s goal apparently experiencing a charmed existence. Cork forward Colm O’Neill was particularly accursed and managed four first-half wides into the bargain.
He still ended up with 1-2 and afterwards recalled a hard year, recovering from a cruciate injury and its upbeat conclusion for him personally. “I’ll make no secret, I’ve put a lot of hard work this time over the last 12 months. If you look back on this time last year, I wasn’t out celebrating All Stars but was back in the gym training hard. We’ve a few weeks to catch up on when we get back but I’m looking forward to the challenge in 2013.”
The 2011 side, managed by Pat Gilroy in his last outing in such a role for at least a while, was conversely kept afloat by its knack for getting goals just when the match looked like running beyond them.
But once Mayo’s Cillian O’Connor had struck for the winners’ third goal and a one-point lead, 3-12 to 5-5, towards the end of the third quarter, the 2012 team were never caught.
Played 13-a-side with the travelling teams short a number of players because of injury, a couple of local footballers were given the opportunity to play and CJ Molloy, a nephew of Donegal’s 1992 All-Ireland winning captain Anthony Molloy, chipped in with the 2012 team’s eighth goal at the very end.
There was some unusual positioning besides the 13-man configuration. Rory O’Carroll, Dublin’s full back, played up front and got the 2011 team’s second goal.
Winner of the man of the match – or MVP – award for the evening was Dublin centrefielder Michael Darragh Macauley, playing for the 2011s, who finished the match with a hat-trick of goals in a top score of 3-1.
There was a more familiar source of goals for the team with Bernard Brogan’s quick-fire brace after half-time getting the 2011s in front for the last time.
Brogan was amongst the players who had visited Breezy Point earlier that day to provide some assistance for the devastated and strongly Irish-American local community, whose small Queens enclave had been hit by both Hurricane Sandy and a fire triggered by the extreme weather conditions.
Presentations were made afterwards to the travelling All Stars and New York chair Liam Bermingham announced that they hoped to have completely redeveloped facilities at the iconic but dowdy home of the GAA in the city in time for the 2014 centenary of the association’s establishment here.