New York, New York!

New York, New York!

In preparation for our big trip to the Big Apple, New York City connoisseur and general oddball, Jarlath Coady, provides us with some guidelines for how to survive and make to most of our trip abroad.

 

So you’re going to New York? First bit of advice: Don’t eat the gum on subway handrails. Or anywhere else for that matter. Buy your own (said in New York accent).

New York is often described as the perfect city. Its public transportation is so efficient, it makes you think that maybe the Red Setter from Bus Eireann should be put down. If you want to shop, it’s got that. Concerts? Even a deaf person would have a great choice. Food? Only everywhere. Coffee? Starbucks on every corner. ‘Coz you might need a caffeine top-up in the 30-yard trek from one street-corner to the next.

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It’s got everything that any city could have AND even has beaches. Who knew? I did. And now you do. Which may be an option since heading into May is the beginning of ‘fan oven’ season in New York. For those daunted by being NYC first-timers, it has some comparable characteristics in common with Mayo. If you like Main Street Castlebar, then you’ll love Times Square. It’s Hudson River is the absolute spit of Carrowbeg river in Westport. Its beaches just like Clew Bay.

However, one thing is very different in New York. Things do not stand still. No train or bus is ever a minute late, and don’t expect one to even stop for you if you are on Irish time of being a minute late. So with that, may I introduce you to the New York public transport. Before going over, make sure you have downloaded one of the many subway apps and try getting yourself familiar with it. The subway can be a daunting experience if you’re unfamiliar with it but is so easy to navigate once you do get used to it. Rule of thumb: you’re either going Uptown(North), Downtown(South), Manhattan-bound(West) or Queens/Brooklyn-bound(East). It might sound obvious, but know where you are and where you’re going. If you find yourself on the right train but going in the wrong direction, don’t panic. Just get off at the next stop. If the wrong direction is southbound, then just get the northbound which is often in the same underground station, or at worst across the street. Make sure that any app you do have for the subway can be used offline as any app that relies on data connection either won’t work or you will encounter your first mugging experience in the city. Data roaming charges are ridiculous in America. Before heading over, make sure you notify your network operator that you are going to America and research if there is any add-on you can buy which will allow you to use some data over there. 1MB of data can cost nearly €5. Google Maps simply tracking your location is a shocking €10 gone. If you’re disciplined enough to not obsess about needing constant Facebook access, then Starbucks will be your new best friend with its free (if somewhat slow) Wi-Fi. Also, you should notify your bank that you are going over as any debit/credit transactions may be seen as suspicious activity and your card could be frozen until you contact them anyways.

So you have your app downloaded, your Genfitt Mayo jersey on. What the hell is the next step from JFK? Again, do your research before you arrive, but if you are staying in Manhattan then it’s very easy. Get the Airtain from JFK to Howard Beach. Buy the €5 Airtrain ticket at Howard Beach and get the Manhattan-bound A or E trains which will bring you straight into Manhattan. It takes about an hour and a half so don’t be worried thinking that you’re on your way to LA. If you plan on using the subway regularly (which you will), then it would be wise to buy a 7-day unlimited metrocard for $31, even if you’re only in NYC for a few days. You’ll be using it daily a number of times. The metrocard can be bought from any of the kiosks available in all underground stations.

To distract yourself from the potential Sam decider with New York, you may have an interest in other sports. New York doesn’t do small or understated. In Ireland, the difficulty of wondering if a pub is “showing the match” is about as alien to New York as Sting. The two best sports bars in NYC are The Irish Pub between 53rd and 54th street on 7th avenue approximately a five minute walk from Times Square and Legends on W 33rd Street. These places have more TV’s than you could shake a hurley stick at and regularly show Premier League/Champions League games amongst others. It would be pointless mentioning other pubs in NYC as there are too many to mention. Looking for an Irish Pub? Here’s a tip. Open your bloody eyes. They’re everywhere. And for those new to the pub culture there, it’s customary to tip a dollar for every drink. Prices for drinks are roughly similar or slightly cheaper than cities in Ireland, depending a bit on the strength of the euro to the dollar. At the moment, the euro has strengthened over the last year from a low in 2012 and so surprisingly New York prices aren’t astronomical (clearly not talking about accommodation here). After every third drink, the bar man will give a free round. That’s the norm. For those wanting to try out some trendy bars in New York, google Overtime NYC. They often have a number of events on every week, usually with Open Vodka bars on open rooftop bars overlooking the city. Maybe the best option if you have no intentions of leaving the pub during your holiday but wouldn’t mind getting a bit of sun.

For those who aren’t going to set up camp in a bar/pub in NYC then why not do what all the tourists do. No, not get mugged. Unless you wear a bum bag, or socks in sandals. Then yes. You’re getting mugged. And it might even be me that does it. There are plenty of tourist traps in New York. There are two options for seeing really what NYC looks like. The Empire State Building and just ‘down the road’ (in Manhattan terms) ‘The Rock’ at Rockefeller Square has awesome views of the entire city including Central Park. The new World Trade Centre is looking mighty impressive and is an obvious stop for sightseeing. Plus, could people stop feeding the pigeons around WTC? THEY ARE MASSIVE.

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 And some are downright dangerous.

 

It’s near the very southern tip of Manhattan island and not too far from Wall Street. One recommendation: Statue of Liberty isn’t as impressive up-close as it is in the movies. Although, only in recent months have they opened up the oul’ hat on herself so people can look out from it. Something that’s been closed off since 9/11. 5th avenue is not too bad for the gawk but you’d be better off saving your shopping for other places. Head to Union Square for some good stores at decent prices. If you want super bargains, then Woodbury Common is the place to go. This is upstate and so is a bit of a bus journey. Tickets for the buses can be bought from Port Authority on 42nd Street and 8th avenue. The buses leave from here regularly and it’s worth the trek. Some interesting film spots might include the Ghostbusters firehouse at 14 N Moore Street or Monica’s apartment from Friends which is above The Little Owl Restaurant (just the outside obviously, don’t go harassing some elderly couple because you want to see the inside of Monica’s apartment) on the corner of Grove and Bedford Street in Greenwich Village, 90 Bedford Street to be exact. There are too many other great spots to visit in NYC but this is a blog, not a new Lord of the Rings book.

There are two types of people to be weary of when in Times Square. Those selling their homemade music CD’s and those selling tickets for stand-up comedy shows. Fine if you want to listen to a struggling hip-hop artist or want to go to a comedy show. But if you don’t, these guys will hound you if you look anywhere in their direction. So just look straight ahead and keep on walking. Do not talk to them.

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If you feel like being a bit fancy, Broadway is a good experience with plenty of shows to cater for whatever taste. There are plenty of sharp, edgy plays, it isn’t just musicals that Broadway does. You can go directly to box offices of theatres. Most of the Broadway theatres are located just off Times Square in the streets from 41st to 49st Street roughly. If you’re not sure what to go see, then cut out the walking and just show up at the tkts booth situated directly below the steps on Times Square. This is open in the morning and afternoon and tickets can be discounted from 20-50%. This can be a little deceptive though as a ticket might be 50% off but could be an expensive seat as you find out the discount at the area but not the price until you get to a kiosk. Generally speaking, no matter where you sit in any of the theatres you will see the stage so don’t go buying premium seats if you don’t need to.

Finally, make sure that in getting lost in the energy of New York you don’t forget to get the plane back. Horan will be looking for you come September!

Sunday preview – Mayo’s experience to tell vs Derry

Sunday preview – Mayo’s experience to tell vs Derry

We made it. It’s semi final time. And both semis should serve up two tasty treats.

Cork having beaten Dublin already this season in Croke Park will be hoping to emulate the same result. But I’m sure the current league Champions will have something to say about that.Our big focus will throw in at 2, and after last weekend’s encounter I cannot wait. Derry come to the party with an impressive league campaign under their belt.  They have evolved this season, and some will say they have become more united since the departure of Eoin Bradley.  The younger brother of Paddy has opted to play soccer with Colerine FC for the spring.

Mayo DerryI watched Derry’s first league game against Tyrone on TV and they were very impressive; they drew, but were unfortunate in the end not to win having come from eight points down to draw level.  It was, of course their first Div 1 game in four years.  Monday mornings I usually chat to two male work colleagues and we review the weekend’s sporting events, casually of course! After the opening round of the league we discussed the games and I mentioned that I thought Derry were a team to watch this season (I still do), and one of the lads, dismissed me with a laugh. I haven’t spoken to him about the games since and no, not because I took the huff!

We’ve come to the business end of the season now. Derry proved a poor opposition for Mayo last weekend, but it was clever from Brian McIver. He knew they were through and figured Mayo were going to meet them again this weekend. So his starting 15 got a week off to prepare and got an up close look at Mayo for free.  They play passionately and very much as a unit.  They have a number of standout players on the team this year, Mark Lynch at centre forward continues to flourish, he scored 1-6 from play last weekend against Kildare, he’s hard marked and attacks right through the middle so it’ll be interesting to see how Donal Vaughan, who also likes to attack, will cope with that.  This season they look to operate with a two man full forward line consisting of 6 foot 4 Keelan O’Boyle, a UUJ student, and Emmet McGuckin, who scored a cracking goal in Castlebar, is small but good in the air and very powerful. How the Mayo defenders will cope with these two will be something to keep an eye on.

Last weekend James Horan gave Aidan O Shea and Jason Gibbons a rest day so a big performance will be needed from them to take on the might of Fergal Doherty and Patsy Bradley.  Mayo are the highest scorers in the league so far followed closely by Derry who are playing quite a similar type of football to James Horan’s men.  Their centre back adapts the same attacking role as Vaughan, so this may allow Keith Higgins and the Mayo half forward line some space to get scores.  They have relied on outscoring their opponents throughout the league so this one should keep the scoreboard operator busy.  Mayo will have to improve on their scoring as they are racking up quite a lot of wides this season, an area they will have to sharpen up in as they proceed towards the Connacht Championship and beyond.   Cillian O’Connor has slotted back into his role as chief free-taker after his break through injury, and top scorer of the league for the county, Kevin McLoughlin (1-24) will hope to continue on from where he left off against Dublin.

This one will be hard to call. It’ll be a cracker, full of scores and open honest football from both sides. Because of their experience at this stage, I think Mayo will edge this one.

It’s show time now as Mayo take on shrewd McIver’s Derry

It’s show time now as Mayo take on shrewd McIver’s Derry

In her first post for Club ’51, our very own Knockmore correspondent Laurita Blewitt previews Sunday’s game, and casts her eye forward to what might lie ahead …..

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I’ll be honest, when I saw the Derry team on Twitter last night, I checked it twice. 14 changes from last weekends win over Kildare. I know they are through to the semi finals, but I was looking forward to seeing these two sides meet. They both have been the scoring kingpins of the Division 1.

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Mayo’s Mikey Sweeney in action against Derry, James Stephen’s Park Ballina, NFL February 2009. (pic: Sportsfile)

I tweeted that either Derry have a squad as big as Dublin, or this one will be a cakewalk for Horan’s men. But Brian McIver has proved his shrewdness this season so far. He’s been building this squad up since he took over in 2012 and having secured their first trip to Croke Park this year, he’s now just looking for options. The only player to get the nod from last weekend is Emmet McGuckin, who moves from full forward to midfield to partner Niall Holly.

It’s fair to say Mayo should win this handy enough –  sure 99% of this Derry team have had little or no run out this season yet. And if they do, they will probably face the Northerners again next weekend. But this is where the challenge arrives. It will suit Derry to just fulfill the fixture, while Mayo show their full hand and only meet the opposing side’s reserves.

In four weeks time, the Mayo squad, along with a cargo of Mayo supporters will hit for the Bronx.  So James Horan and Co. will want to get into the semi finals to increase game time for the likes of Cillian O’Connor, Donal Vaughan and Jason Gibbons. Not so much in preparation for New York, but more so beyond that.

It’s show time now and shaky league openers and FBD games are a distant memory. It’s all about one thing, and from Sunday on it starts. A Division 1 league semi, a possibility of reaching the final and a trip to New York is the perfect precursor to what, we all hope, will be a long, and dare I say it, a sparkling silver summer season.

Remember to bring plenty of colour and flags on Sunday!

The fan’s view – Now every game is like a home game

Ahead of this weekend’s clash vs. the Dubs, here’s diehard Mayo fan Trevor Naughton (exiled in Kildare, but green and red to the core) on his experience of hanging out with the Club ’51 crew this year, and how he expects the big game to pan out on Saturday afternoon. Thanks Trevor!

Ahead of the weekend’s big clash with Dublin where Mayo head to Croker looking to pick up another two valuable league points,  I thought I’d offer the fan’s view of how Club ’51 has gone to date!

As you are all aware Club ’51 has been up and running since the start of the year and I think it has been an unmitigated success.  The introduction of Club ’51 has created a completely different buzz about going to Mayo matches and is something we are really enjoying.  For years we have all travelled in our little groups to matches, meeting up with old friends as you bumped into them.

The level of support that Mayo has (home and away) is clear to see at every game. There are a few publicans in Newbridge that will attest to that also! Every game, whether it’s Castlebar, Tralee or Omagh now feels like a home game and that’s a wonderful thing. Centralising the Mayo support has been excellent. There is nothing better than outnumbering the locals in a pub in their own back yard!

Going to the meet-ups before games the pub/hotel chosen by Club ’51 is full with Mayo supporters. The more times we go to the meet ups before/after games we invariably meet someone new or someone we already know through the #mayogaa hashtag on Twitter or Willie Joe’s MayoGAABlog but have yet to meet in real life!

The main aim is to bring a bit of noise, fun and colour to Mayo matches and to show the team that there is a “Sea of Green and Red” behind them. I have always had hats/scarves/headbands/flags at home but never would have thought to bring any of them to a league match. Club ’51 has changed that idea. If you are thinking about going to the match at the weekend feel free to drop into Jury’s Croke Park Hotel before the game.

The game itself is going to be one of our toughest to date but the lads have been improving steadily game on game and I would be expecting them to deliver the points on this occasion. There has been a lot of debate on mayogaablog on whether we should be going flat out to win this game or not. I think without doubt we have to go out to win this. Just look back to 2012 when we beat the Dubs in Castlebar (in the game refixed after the fog!), we went up against them in Croker in the semi-final with no inferiority complex. Dublin beat us 3 times last year so we really want to be laying down a marker on Saturday night. See you there!

PS: Don’t forget your voices and your flags!!! Up Mayo!!!

Trevor

Follow me on Twitter: @trevornaughton 🙂

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