BY CHRIS MCNULTY
DONEGAL’S connections with the New York footballers continues this year with the Big Apple boys welcoming Sligo to Gaelic Park this Sunday as the curtain draws on the 2012 football championship (8pm Irish time).
New York are managed by former Ardara clubman Connie Molloy, a brother of Donegal’s All-Ireland winning captain from 1992, Anthony Molloy.
Connie has been Stateside since the 1980s and has taken the reigns this year, succeeding another Donegal man, Creeslough’s Seamus Sweeney, as manager.
Connie, along with his brothers Frank and Lanty, won several New York senior and junior championships with their club.
He also had a very successful term as a player with the New York team in the eighties as he was a member of the centenary team in 1984.
A little history will be made on Sunday as Molloy is set to hand starts to four American-born players, including his own son, CJ.
“These kids would be into American football, basketball and baseball and dependning on them for scholarships to get into college,” Molloy said this week.
“I don’t think since we entered the Connacht Championship in ‘98 there’d have been a number that high of American-born players.
“You might have had one or two, but not that many starting. There’ll be another couple in the panel.
“I have been around the minor and underage set-up since these guys started out.
“For the most part they wouldn’t have been given a chance because automatically it would be preconceived the guy coming from Ireland would be better than the guy born here.
“I don’t agree. I think it will be seen on Sunday that they are quite capable of playing at this level.
“We’ve had some good players here that didn’t commit for different reasons and these guys have been playing since they were eight or ten years old.
“They are definitely worth a shot, they are native New Yorkers, why not?”
Sligo go trans-Atlantic as the firm favourites to advance against New York, who include in their ranks Ronan McGinley of Tyrone, the team captain whose brother Enda won an All-Ireland with the Red Hands, and Alan Hearty, a brother of Armagh All-Ireland winning ‘keeper Paul, who has recently hung up his gloves.
Molloy has enlisted the help of Mickey Coleman from Tyrone – and the Donegal native believes his wing man has been a vital cog in their preparations.
Molloy said: “Mickey has brought a lot to the table. I’ve been in this town 30 years and you probably get stale when you’ve been here that long.
“He’s been around the Tyrone scene with Mickey Harte and he has an All-Ireland medal. He’s brought a new dimension to the training here and he’s been tremendous.”
The surface at Gaelic Park is astroturf and the conditions are expected to be warm. The Yeates county will be expected to progress – but Molloy believes his men are in with a firm chance.
He said: “If the intensity is there, these guys have trained well and worked hard.
“We are definitely not going to lie down, so we are hoping to come out on the end of a good result.
“It’s home ground and we are used to it, so it should be an advantage.
“And if you get the temperature up it definitely wouldn’t suit any team coming out that’s used to playing on the softer ground.”
Ronan Whyte will travel to China in early July ahead of the competition which gets underway on July 7