#TheToughest: New York GAA’s all-time XV would take some beating
Sligo will travel to Gaelic Park, New York to get the Connacht Championship underway this Sunday night at 8:15pm Irish time.
The Exiles will hope to go one better than last year when, as massive underdogs, they nearly pulled off the shock of the season against Roscommon. Justin O'Halloran’s outfit gave the Rossies the fright of their championship lives that day.
Building on that, they will be hoping to go one step further by claiming their first ever championship scalp this weekend.
Indeed, the hype has reached uncharted levels this year as the Empire State outfit feel they have a side legitimately capable of defeating The Yeats County.
We took a gander at the best players to have played for New York over the years, and here is the end result. A starting 15 capable of mixing it with the best of them.
Goalkeeper - Vinny Cadden (Sligo)
The former Sligo net-minder has been named as the vice-captain for Sunday as he comes up against some of his old Sligo teammates. Last year’s clash with Roscommon marked the beginning of Cadden’s New York career.
Right Corner back - Gerard McCartan (Down)
The former Down senior footballer will be representing his adopted county for a fourth championship outing this Sunday, after making his debut against Mayo in 2014. The St. Mary’s Burren club-man was a leader in their county title winning side of 2010 and these qualities will be a valuable asset for New York.
Full Back - Johnny Duane (Galway)
The 25-year-old represented the Galway senior footballers from 2011 to 2015. He was a key member of Galway’s All-Ireland Under-21 winning side of 2011. The St. James’ club-man lined out as captain for the exiles against Roscommon last year and we feel he would be a secure minder of the house at full-back.
Left Corner Back - Rory Stafford (Wexford)
A former All-Ireland athletics champion, the St. Anne’s club-man has played for Wexford in all grades of hurling and football. He represented the New York footballers in their 2012 clash with Sligo.
Right Half Back - Denis O Sullivan (Cork)
The 27-year-old made seven appearances for the Cork senior footballers between 2011-2012. The Ballinascarty clubman represented The Exiles in their 2014 clash with Mayo.
Centre Back- Tom Cunniffe (Mayo)
The Castlebar Mitchels' club-man won five Connacht titles during his time with Mayo. He started at corner back for James Horan’s side that lost to Dublin in the 2013 All Ireland final. He decided to leave Stephen Rochford’s panel last year to travel to the US. We reckon this water-tight corner back would man the defence solidly.
Left Half Back- Keith Scally (Westmeath)
The former Tyrrellspass and Westmeath star captained the New York side in 2015. He made his debut for the blues in 2013 against Mayo and would slot in superbly in this selection at left half back.
Midfield - Ross Wherity (Donegal)
The St. Eunan’s club-man represented Donegal for five years between 2009 and 2013. He has lined out for Donegal at minor, U21 and senior levels. The former DCU student is a bit of an all-rounder having had a spell as an Australian Rules footballer as well. He appeared for New York in their 2014 championship clash with Mayo.
Midfield - Brian Connor (Offaly)
Connor, a son of 1982 Offaly All-Ireland winning captain Matt Connor, made his debut for New York in 2013 against Leitrim. He raised four white flags in last year’s clash with Roscommon and would make a dynamic midfield partnership with the aforementioned Wherity.
Right Half Forward - PJ Banville (Wexford)
The mercurial Wexford man represented his county with distinction for nine years from 2005 to 2014 before moving overseas to play with New York in 2015.
The Horeswood club-man, who also played soccer with Waterford United F.C, was a key cog in Wexford’s 2008 side that won a National League before finishing as bridesmaids to Dublin in that year's Leinster Final. How New York will love having him patrolling the half forward position this Sunday.
Centre Forward - Danny Sutcliffe (Dublin)
The St. Jude’s club-man was hailed as the potential saviour of Dublin hurling after a string of top-class performances for Anthony Daly’s side during the 2012 and 2013 seasons, one of which Kilkenny legend Tommy Walsh is still having nightmares about.
He opted out of the Dublin Senior Hurling panel prior to the 2016 campaign and hasn’t re-joined Ger Cunningham’s troops this year. The 25-year-old was part of the Leinster minor football winning Dublin side of 2009 and his direct running and power will be a nightmare for the Sligo centre-back this Sunday.
Left Half Forward - Brendan Quigley (Laois)
31-year-old Quigley was made captain of the New York side in 2014 by then manager Ian Galvin. The Timahoe club-man has represented the Laois seniors since 2006.
Quigley won a minor All-Ireland with his county in 2003, and two Leinster U21 championships in 2006 and 2007. He received trials for the Brisbane Lions Australian rules football team in his time. Standing at 6ft 5in tall, he’s a weapon under the dropping ball.
Right Corner Forward - Gavin McPartland (Armagh)
The lively corner forward represented the Blues in their 2013 meeting with Mayo. He represented the Orchard County during the 2013 season.
Full Forward - Johnny Glynn (Galway)
The Galway man needs no introduction. He may have carved his reputation with a hurl in his hand but we have no doubt that the Ardrahan club-man would flourish with a 'Bear in the Square' type role for this outfit.
He is no stranger to the headlines after his hilarious interview [below] with RTÉ last year after Galway defeated Cork, and his decision to commute from New York to Galway this year to hurl with his county.
He lined out for New York in last year’s clash against Roscommon but hasn’t committed this year. P.S: Don't tell Johnny that this team only has one forward.
Left Corner Forward - Conor McGraynor (Wicklow)
The 24-year-old represented New York against the Donegal senior footballers in a challenge match two weeks ago. He lined out in the full-forward line during DCU’s 2014/2015 Sigerson Cup winning campaign and the tall and strong Wicklow man would pose problems for even the solidest of full back lines.
So there you have it, New York GAA’s all-time 15, and what a team that would be if all these stars lined out together.