PJ Banville confident New York can put it up to Galway
Wexford forward has the best of both worlds playing football while travelling
Wexford forward PJ Banville has won four county football medals with Horeswood. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho.
Connacht Senior Football Championship New York v Galway Sunday, Gaelic Park, 8pm (3pm New York time) It’s a long way from Horeswood to the Bronx and for PJ Banville it’s only the beginning. Because every New York footballer is on a journey of some sort, and Banville is no exception.
On the artificial playing turf that is Gaelic Park, he’ll make his championship debut for New York, swapping over from the Wexford football jersey he’s worn all his life.
In fact New York have never won a championship match, and while Galway were somewhat lucky to escape on their last visit, in 2010, nothing about this game suggests history in the making.
Still, for Banville, one of Wexford’s star forwards for the last decade it’s all part of the journey. He’d made his mind up, towards the end of last year, that at age 29, he hadn’t many years left to go travelling: 2015 would be that year.
At the same time he didn’t want to abandon his football, so when he first stopped off in New York, several months back, he contacted New York manager, Ian Galvin, to let him know he was in town: Galvin, naturally, got him up to the Bronx with directions to Gaelic Park, and with that Banville agreed to stick around until New York’s championship Sunday.
“My main motivation was to go travelling,” says Banville. “I was after giving 10 years, with Wexford, and just thought the time was right to take a year out. And I was here last summer, really liked it, and said I’d come back for a while in the new year. Ian (Galvin) was on to me then, and I said look ‘I’ll stay and play football’.
“I love football that much. It’s hard just to not play, to give up for one year, and just do nothing. And it’s a nice change as well. ”
“Yeah, I’m planning on travelling around the world, with my girlfriend,” he says. “We’ll see how Sunday goes, but yeah, we’ll probably head off in the middle of next week, somewhere.”
Not that Banville is giving his services to New York for the sheer enjoyment of it: he honestly believes they can put it up to Galway.
“Definitely,” he says. “We had two good games against Cavan, recently, and for anyone who was in Gaelic Park, that night, and you didn’t know which group of players were which, it would have been hard to figure out that Cavan were the county team, to be honest about it.
“So there’s real confidence going into this game. And it is very professional over here. We train as hard, have the same meetings. All the work is still put in the same as it’s put in at home. There’s no stone unturned. Galway, we know, are a very good team, and we’ll give them a lot of respect. But anything can happen.”