Footballers head to New York today for Connacht Championship start

The Galway senior football squad fly from Shannon Airport today (Thursday ) to JFK airport ahead of the start of the Connacht Championship against New York on Sunday evening (8pm Irish time ).

Team manager Kevin Walsh is not taking anything for granted, insisting the management team and panel will be giving New York the full respect they deserve.

"We will be taking nothing for granted, absolutely not,” he says. “ That would be a very silly thing to do. I have been in New York with Sligo before – and you have to prepare in a professional way and go out and produce a winning performance. Unless you do that, and give New York the full respect they deserve, you are leaving yourself open to a real sucker punch. Any team you are playing at intercounty level has to be respected and that is the reality of the situation.”

The starting 15 on Sunday is expected to follow familiar lines, but midfielder Tom Flynn is back in contention for a starting spot, having recovered from knee surgery he underwent in February. His availability is a plus for management, giving them options from midfield up.

On the negative side, regular goalkeeper Manus Breathnach is ruled out after hand surgery and his place will probably go to Claregalway’s Brian O’Donoghue, with Tomás Healy wearing number 16.

On the doubtful list also are Moycullen’s Gareth Bradshaw with an ankle problem and u-21 star Damien Comer, who is just coming back from the mouth injury he sustained against Kildare in the league.

This is Galway's first trip to the Big Apple since 2010 when they were made work hard for a 2-13 to 0-12 victory.

New York played two challenges recently against Cavan and their manager Ian Galvin, who is a Kerryman, is quietly confident his side can spring a 25/1 shock.

“I’m not going to make any great predictions, but I would say we’re quietly confident going into Sunday that we can turn the tide and win a Connacht Championship match in New York for the first time,” he says.

“Having Cavan in town a couple of weeks ago was massive for us. That took the cobwebs off the players a little bit, helped us work on our game plan and different scenarios that we might go through against Galway.”

Regardless of what either manager says in the build up to the game, if Galway were to lose next Sunday it would be the shock of the decade.

With experienced players like Paul Conroy, Gary Sice, Gary O’Donnell, Finian Hanley, Danny Cummins, Michael Lundy and Fiontán Ó Curraoin in their starting ranks, that should not be contemplated.

The winners this weekend play Leitrim on May 17 in Carrick-on-Shannon in the Connacht quarter-final.

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