Niall Mitchell (The Downs) in action against Athlone duo Paddy Ryan and James Finlass during a Westmeath SFC game. Mitchell scored 1-3 for the Westmeath team in their victory in New York.

Mitchell impresses as Westmeath win in Big Apple

Intermediate champions in 2021, Westmeath Hurling and Football Club, New York added to their list of achievements on Sunday, September 17 when capturing the New York Senior Football title with a comfortable five-point victory over the Yonkers-based St Barnabas team.

The win secured the Westmeath club’s second senior title, the club’s previous title win dating back to 1996.

The Westmeath boys lined out in jerseys, sponsored by former Mullingar Shamrocks star Darren Moore, bearing the initials DTM of the law offices of Darren T. Moore. They attacked from the throw-in and Niall Mitchell pointed in the second minute. Padraig Studdart responded with a similar score for St Barnbabas. The ex-Mullingar Shamrocks forward Killian Butler and Callum Jones exchanged two particularly fine points before Mitchell and Butler combined for The Downs man to point from a difficult angle.

The Westmeath lead was short lived as in the next attack Brendan Martin’s efforts earned a penalty kick for St Barnabas. Pat Guerin did well to save Jack Reilly’s spot kick but Reilly was quickest to react and goaled from the rebound. Reilly followed with a point to send Barnabas into a 1-3 to 0-3 lead after 10 minutes.

However, this was as good as it got for the New Yorkers as they were outplayed and outscored 1-8 to 0-1 over the next 20 minutes as the power and skill of the Westmeath team proved to be too much for the native New Yorkers. Their ranks included Ian Kavanagh, a son of former Mullingar Shamrocks player and champion handballer, Frank.

In the final analysis, during this dominant Westmeath spell, the title was won and lost. It might have been worse, as two great saves by Brendan Cole from shots by Killian Butler and Jack Savage prevented a rout. Man of the Match, Niall Mitchell’s aerial prowess proved to be too great a challenge and the full-forward goaled in the eleventh minute; Jack Savage, team captain Adam Loughlin-Stones, and Gavin O’Brien added points and at the first water break Westmeath enjoyed a comfortable 1-8 to 1-3 lead.

The trend continued on the restart as Jack Savage (0-2), Gavin O’Brien and Killian Butler added points to extend the Westmeath lead to 1-12 to 1-4 at the interval.

The interval break refocussed St Barnabas and the response was immediate. Callum Jones scored a great long-range point but this was neutralised by two Westmeath points from Jack Savage and Niall Mitchell. Two points from Jones and a pointed free by goalkeeper Brendan Cole reduced the lead to six points but a Jack Savage pointed 45 looked to have secured Westmeath’s second senior title (1-15 to 1-8).

St Barnabas had different ideas and points by Shane Hogan and Mikey Brosnan and a goal by Brendan Martin cut the lead to just two points and raised alarm bells in the Westmeath camp.

Great defending by goalkeeper Pat Guerin, Israel Ilunga (Rosemount), Conor Coughlan, Eric Lowndes and Daniel O’Sullivan helped Westmeath weather the storm and the title was secured on a 2-15 to 2-10 scoreline when Gavin O’Brien scored Westmeath’s second goal.

For long serving members John Moore and Club President, Tom Nugent, the win was of special significance. John Moore has been involved in the Westmeath Hurling and Football Club New York since the mid-1980s and has served the club in every way possible since its formation. On this occasion, thirteen of those involved in the final were employees of the Moore Group Corporation. Tom Nugent has done incredible work over the years to keep the name of Westmeath GAA alive in New York. An every-present figure in Gaelic Park, there isn’t a hurler or a footballer that arrives in New York without coming to the attention of Tom, Mr Westmeath GAA in New York.

And, Mick Stones, who has been so generous in his sponsorship of Westmeath Development squads this year, had the privilege of watching his son Adam Loughlin Stones captain the team to victory.

Westmeath: Pat Guerin, Niall Donohue, Israel Ilunga, Boidu Sayeh, Conor Coughlan, Eric Lowndes, Daniel O’Sullivan, Emmett O’Congaile, Stephen Monaghan, Jordan Ajani, Jack Savage (0-7), Adam Loughlin-Stones (0-1, capt.), Killian Butler (0-2), Niall Mitchell (1-3), Gavin O’Brien (1-2). Other Panellists: Mark Galligan, Keith Scally, Stephen Nolan, Brian Travers, Rob Wharton, Luke Kelly, Darragh Carmody, Sean Moore, Dylan McDermott. Shane Fagan.

St. Barnabas: Brendan Cole (0-1), Peter Cronin, Dylan Curran, Jamie Boyle, Mikey Boyle, Padraig Studdart (0-1), Shane Brosnan, Conor Rafferty, Conor Mathers, Tiarnan Mathers, Callum Jones (0-4), Brendan Martin (1-0), Jack Reilly( 1-2), Mikey Brosnan (0-1). Subs: Jack Dennis, Gearoid Kennedy, Timmy Fitzmaurice, Oisin Mathers, Ian Kavanagh, Paudie Mathers, Francis Cole. Shane Hogan (0-1), Adam Powers, Caolain Mathers.

Referee: Peter McCormack.