Mulligan’s three goals help Leitrim to victory over outclassed New York

Gulf between the sides obvious as Connacht side power to convincing victory

 Leitrim’s Paul Brennan is tackled by New York’s Jason Kelly at the Gaelic Ground. Photo: Ed Mulholland/Inpho

Leitrim’s Paul Brennan is tackled by New York’s Jason Kelly at the Gaelic Ground. Photo: Ed Mulholland/Inpho



So the 2013 All-Ireland football championship opened in blazing sunshine and a sparkling rendition of the Star Spangled Banner . For all its imperfections, starting the epic summer contest in the outer reaches of the Bronx is a glorious gesture.

But the lopsided scoreline suggests that the difficulties which define New York GAA remain as acute as ever.

As they privately feared, the reality of living with a team who have been playing competitive games since January proved impossible.

They wilted in the second half and as Melvin Gaels’ Emlyn Mulligan gave a display which leaves him sitting handsome in the early stages of the All-Ireland scoring chart.

The New Yorkers must have wondered when and if they will be able to compete at this level again.

Strong presence
From Leitrim’s perspective, the match represented 3,000 miles well travelled.

Leitrim has a strong presence in New York GAA and Barney Breen’s team gave their expatriate supporters something to cheer about here without revealing anything they didn’t already know.

Yes, Emlyn Mulligan is a supremely gifted playmaker and was at his most laconic here, punishing a basic lapse in judgement in the New York full back line with a crisply-taken goal in the 20th minutes which effectively drew the curtains on an all notions of a theatrical shock.

And yes, Tomas Beirne is an impressive high fielder and a good, solid square-to-square traditional midfielder.

By then, New York trailed by 2-05 to 0-03 and Leitrim were beginning to enjoy the novelty of playing in a county game in which they completely bossed possession. Their progressive wingbacks, Wayne McKeon and Danny Beck roved upfield – or, rather, astro-turf – with impunity.

McKeon created Leitrim’s second goal, taking a return pass from Mulligan before squaring a pass which Robbie Lowe batted home. That was effectively game over.

Mulligan slid a third goal past Gavin Joyce just after half-time and by then, all championship intensity had left the ground: it was an afternoon of sunshine and burgers and talk of the night ahead in Rory Dolan’s.

Happy enough
“We are happy enough. It was hot conditions out there and we were apprehensive all weekend. So it is a sigh of relief more than feeling victorious and I feel our fitness stood to us,” said Leitrim manager Breen afterwards.

The New York scores were sporadic and well constructed. They were heavily dependent on the presence CJ Molloy brought to midfield and on the virtuosity of Offaly man Jason Kelly, who unfortunately had to retire injured at half time.

The second half was just a procession of Leitrim scores. CJ Molloy contributed New York’s first of the period in the 60th minute. Rory Woods, added a second but it was the visitors’ day and Mulligan added a classy late goal to add lustre to the scoreboard.

That brought an end to New York’s mayfly championship summer for another year.

LEITRIM : C McCrann; A Wynne, F McMorrow, P Maguire, D Beck, G Reynolds, W McKeon (0-1), T Beirne (0-2), D Sweeney (0-1); P Brennan, E Mulligan (3-7, 0-6 frees), G Hickey (0-1); K Conlon (0-1, 45), J Glancy (0-3), R Lowe (1-1). Subs: R Cox for G Hickey (46 mins), B Brennan (0-2) for D Freeman (56 mins), B Prior for K Conlon (56 mins), C Egan for A Wynne (60 mins), E Williams for P Maguire (65 mins).
NEW YORK: G Joyce; P Lambe, M O’Regan. D Jackson; L Maguire, K Scally, A Raftery; G O’Driscoll, CJ Molloy (0-1); E Ward, J Kelly (0-1 free), C Lynam (0-1); M Annett, K McGeeney, J Burke (0-3, 0-2 frees).
Subs: C Horgan for E Ward (26 mins), R Woods (0-1) for J Kelly ( half -time inj), D O’Dwyer for G Joyce (half-time), R McGinley for D Jackson (43 mins), J Connolly for K McGeeney (64 mins).
Referee: M Higgins (Fermanagh).