Whether you were there or not, we think it’s safe to say that the New York game was a big event. While those of us who were lucky enough to make the trip across are still in recovery mode, talk in the county is now turning to “Step Two” in this year’s campaign on 8th June. But in the meantime, here’s how our latest guest poster Fear an Chomórtais fared over in NYC last weekend. Welcome aboard, sir!
There’s very few guarantees in this life, but but one thing you can guarantee, is that when this fair county of ours takes the football show on the road, we will most definitely enjoy ourselves! The planning for this New York trip for me started 5 years ago, having been out to Gaelic Park in ’04 and ’09, so to say I was looking forward to this trip was a massive understatement.
Getting the pleasantries out of the way and meeting a few fellow Club ’51ers at the airport, after the flight we did the minibus ride into Manhattan, after which a few of our English neighbors were much wiser on the state of Mayo football as we dismounted.
The customary Mayo flags flew out from the Irish hostelries to entice the noticeable gathering inside. You’d get an odd “go Mayo” in a strong New York accent,to which the reply came “good man yourself”. Eugene Rooney’s Irish Pub became the focal point of the weekend for us, meeting a load from home and some not far from there. Friday night we did our own thing, even gatecrashing some local collegiate alumni event in Suite 36 on W36 St between 5th and 6th avenue, indeed getting some alumni souvenirs for our efforts.
New York gets ready for the Mayo influx …
The intention was to get up early on Saturday to watch the All-Ireland U21 final, between Roscommon and Dublin, which we more than managed to do in the Old Castle Bar. A large crowd was there and I’d even hazard a guess saying 40% were shouting for the Yellowbellies. I for one wasn’t, but the conundrum was I didn’t want the Dubs to win either! The atmosphere was very relaxed all day. We did the customary sightseeing after, of course in the colours, but at this stage you could see the green and red on every street. I love the way that when away at a match like this you always get acknowledged with a nod or a “Howaya lads” while every other New Yorker has the earphones in and the blinkers on, oblivious to the craic building up all around them! Mayo brought the party to town!
The function in Connolly’s that night resembled Quinn’s or Coppers on match day, wedged and very humid. Hard to get to thebar and getting to the bathroom none better. I did think the band were a bit American to be playing Irish tunes but god bless them they played their hearts out each of the 4 times they played The Green And Red of Mayo! But the craic was good and after a while we ended up chatting to John Casey – sure all the stars were out – wasn’t Mike Finnerty holding court behind us and Willie Joe up at the bar! I was getting plenty chat over my shirt, I wore it knowing well that everyone would get a laugh out of it, who would have known that we Mayo people could warrant a laugh at a t-shirt saying “bollox of a ref”! We’ve met more than a few! Legged it back to the Irish pub about 1am, and had the pleasure of sharing a few drinks with the O’Toole brothers from Inisturk, stars of the documentary “Pride of the Parish”. We won an all Ireland there and then, pity it had to finish!
Mayo GAA fans take over the New York Subway
On to Sunday, started well and ended well! What happened in between is the stuff of legend. We met a few legends at the Irish bar; Bernie Waldron who was involved with the mayo minors in the 90’s and a crew from Ballyhaunis. The beers were flying and the craic was mighty, (already arranged the return leg at the Hyde!). The story of the weekend was the lads got into a taxi, Johnny Devaney from Ballyhaunis hopped in the front, asked the cab driver “Where are you from” he answered “Egypt” without a missed breath Johnny replied “and do you walk like an Egyptian?” well when we heard that I split my sides laughing!
We got the subway out to the match – not before stopping off at the Playwright to see if Nicky Joyce was tending bar – he wasn’t – so we moved on. We had a singsong all the way out, cameras were taking pictures and videos, the Yanks didn’t have a clue what was going on but surprise surprise they wanted pictures of us all, and we duly obliged. The Punch Bowl just before Gaelic park provided a comforting pit stop but the one toilet proved torture!
Mayo supporters party in Gaelic Park
The carnival atmosphere at the pitch I’ve experienced before, but you don’t get tired of it. Seriously though, you will not understand it until you’ve experienced it. Met friends who came down from Philadelphia and from Boston – was hard to meet everyone. As for the game, it was hard to see, we couldn’t get a seat so soldiered out a place at the fence. If this was a Premier League match, a “very professional performance” phrase would be used. It’s not the Premier League, but it was a very workmanlike outing. Truth be told it’s a routine fixture, the exiles never expected to get close and they didn’t. The party after was worth coming for! Having read the Sunday Independent and Colm O’ Rourke’s article, it’s plain to be seen that the New York trip was enjoyed by more than just the Mayo diaspora! It felt like a celebration.
I had a chat with Kildare legend Johnny Doyle, what an absolute gent. He was supremely jealous that Kildare and the likes couldn’t be involved in something like this. His opinion on the championship is that it’s the Dubs to lose, but Mayo the only team to challenge them! On Sunday night, it was back to the Oldcastle after Gaelic park, the $30 donation at the door a tad steep but knowing that it was for the players fund it was worth paying. The party atmosphere followed into Manhattan from the Bronx, but already the focus had switched to the Rossies in June.
While I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed every second of this trip Stateside, it’s the start of hopefully a long summer, one which rights a few wrongs over the last few years,and come June 8th be it the Yellowbellies or Lovely Leitrim, we will show up in force like we did in New York and push this team forward.
Back to work/school/college and reality for 2,500 Mayo fans who travelled last week. I can only assume everyone had as good a time as I did! I was lucky enough to have travelled with Jarlath Coady, an expert in all things New York, and despite him getting us lost several times, it was useful to have him around!
It was a hell of an introduction though. First of all, the landing was terrifying and I thought we were on the way out. After I said my goodbyes, we got off the plane and hopped onto the train towards Manhattan. We had to find our hostel. 1 hour it took. 1 very long hour. And it was raining. And by raining I mean it was the 10th WETTEST DAY IN THE CITY’S HISTORY. Seriously, think about that for a second. The 10th wettest day in the history of New York City and I’m out in the feckin’ thing with my suitcase, lost! I had to empty my shoes when I got to the hostel and when we were checking in, a guy had to follow us around the lobby to mop up the trail we left.
Everything I owned was soaked. But it was alright, I hung it all up, stuffed the runners with newspaper, panned out in the bed and ate my weight in Twinkies, Zingers and Goo Goo Clusters. It was exactly as wonderful as it sounds!
Like everyone, we did all the obvious sites. No real need to expand on that. The highlight of the week for me personally was running into a man and his young son in the Bronx. I had gone a stop too far on the train and took a roundabout way to the ground and couldn’t for the life of me figure how to get in. So I spotted the two locals and asked for directions. He told me he was going that way anyways and, in a famous New York accent, said “Go Mayo, right?”. His name was Billy Costello, a second generation Irish man who grew up in New York after his father, Francis, had moved to the Bronx in the early ’50s. His knowledge of Mayo was second to none. His young son was on his way to catching the bug too as he was about to attend his first Mayo game. Billy said how unbelievably excited his father was about the game and it was then it hit me that last Sunday was about more than football. It was great meeting so many Mayo people who had made a new life in the States and even better to meet their children and grandchildren.
After going in we got to work on the flags straight away, had a burger and chips and relaxed to watch the game. Bar two very heavy showers and some strong winds, the day was fine. From a footballing point of view it was a case of job done and onto Game 2. Club ’51 had just made their Championship debut too!
Picture: Stephen Grufferty
We did our best to keep the site ticking over but data charges were through the roof so we had to rely on the odd bit of WiFi we could get our hands on.
A great week in a great city but all the same, it’s good to be back.
In the lead-up to the New York game, Anne-Marie spoke to Mike Kelly, presenter of Saturday Sports on Castlebar Community Radio about the end of Mayo’s National League Campaign, the big trip to the Big Apple and Club ’51’s Route ’51 endeavour. You can listen by clicking on the link below – interview starts at 3.30 minutes. Thanks Mike!
As Mayo travel to New York for the first round of the Connacht Championship on Sunday 4th May in Gaelic Park, with a huge number of people travelling to New York from Ireland and indeed many other parts of the world, there are numerous events taking place around Manhattan and the outer suburbs.
Given that there are already so many events already organised for the weekend, Club ’51 won’t be holding a standalone meetup as is now customary before away games, but you can be assured that we will have numerous representatives in place at most, if not all of the events below. We do like a good party, we do.
Here’s what’s happening:
Friday 2nd May
Mayo GAA (NY) invite supporters to join them at Dunwoodie Golf Course, 1 Wasylenko Ln, Yonkers, NY 10701 from 7 to 10pm for a BAR-B-Q and beverages where they are hoping to defray some of the team’s expenses for the weekend. The Mayo team will be training in Gaelic Park that evening and will be stopping by for a meal following the session. Tickets are $50 per person, and can be bought from any member of the club, or on the night (it’s recommended that you get there early).
Alternatively, if you fancy something a bit more central, some of theClub ’51 crew will be meeting up for a few quiet (!) beverages in The Old Castle Pub & Restaurant, 160 West 54th Street, New York, NY 10019 from 7pm.
Saturday 3rd May
Given that we’re in the Big Apple for a good time, not a long time, we will be rising bright and early to embark on a bit of sightseeing, (it’s not all about the partying, you know) so if you’d like to join us for a bit of craic and culture, we’ll be starting around 9am and getting one of the bus tours. We’ll circulate a meeting point closer to the weekend but it’s likely to be somewhere around Times SQ. Sunscreen (and sunglasses and maybe some Panadol) essential.
On Saturday night, in what is sure to be one of the highlights of the weekend, Mayo GAA are holding their official Cáirde Mhaigheo Function in Connolly’s Pub & Restaurant, located in Manhattan 121 W 45th St, New York, NY 10036. This is being billed as a very informal meet and greet event, where supporters can congregate and meet with some of the past players and chat about the match. (You’re allowed to talk about other things too, but why would you want to do that?!) There will be musical entertainment on the night and Midwest Radio will be in attendance. They will be a raffle on the night with a top prize of tickets to the 2014 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final.
Sunday 4th May (Match Day!)
Try to get to bed at a decent hour on Saturday night, because there’s a big day of football and festivities in store on Sunday! Your destination is Gaelic Park, W 240th St, The Bronx (1 train uptown to 238th St) and the itinerary for the day is as follows:
10.30am: NY Ladies Féile Team vs. St Brigid’s
12pm: NY Boys Féile Team vs. Philly Boys Féile Team
2.30pm: New York vs. Mayo
4pm: NYPD vs. Buffalo Fenians (Buffalo’s first ever appearance at Gaelic Park!)
Ticketing information for the games is available here, on the New York GAA website. Due to the large numbers expected to travel, do try and get there early. Contrary to what Croke Park told us previously, there is a cost for GAA season ticket holders, but there’s a substantial discount all the same, so don’t forget your card!
This will be followed by the customary post-match get-together back in The Old Castle Pub & Restaurant, 160 West 54th Street, New York, NY 10019 from 8pm till late where the Mayo team will join supporters for a night of live music and craic.
So there you have it – you have a week to stock up on the multivitamins and get some sleep! See you in the Big Apple for what is sure to be an unforgettable weekend.
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.
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.
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.
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!