Wednesday 24 January 2018

Banville sharing top spot

IT MAY be a trick question in a sports quiz in years to come: what Wexford player was joint top scorer in the race for the All-Ireland Senior football championship title before the county played its first game?

The answer of course is Horeswood's P.J. Banville who contributed seven of New York's eight points four from frees) in their predictably heavy 2-18 to 0-8 loss to Galway in the first round of the Connacht championship in Gaelic Park on Sunday week.

The long-serving Wexford attacker took a year out to travel but was drawn by the lure of playing football in the Big Apple and duly answered manager Ian Galvin's call. He played at full-forward but the defeat leaves him free to pursue his adventures with Mexico and Peru next on the list of places to visit.

His seven-point haul was matched by Galway duo Shane Walsh and Damien Comer who bagged 1-4 apiece in their big win, leaving all three on top of the list of scorers right now.

Banville became the fifth Wexford man to play in the Connacht championship for New York since they were admitted for the first time in 1999, with the exiles playing one game per year without a break ever since and still seeking a first win.

They had to travel to McHale Park in Castlebar for that debut game 16 years ago and lost to Mayo by 3-13 to 0-10, with their team including Jim Donohoe of Kilanerin at right half-back and Richie Purcell (Adamstown) on the opposite flank.

Five years later another Adamstown man, Eric Bradley, was centre-forward on the side which went down to the same opponents in Gaelic Park by 3-27 to 1-8, contributing two points of their tally.

The only Wexford man to date to play in more than one campaign for New York was Rory Stafford of St. Anne's. He was full-back in the 3-21 to 1-11 loss to Roscommon in Gaelic Park in 2011, and came on at the same venue in 2012 in the 3-21 to 0-6 defeat to Sligo.

Banville was joined by another local, Seán O'Neill of Ballyhogue, on the New York squad this year, but the latter didn't feature in the loss to Galway. However, he did play at midfield against the same opponents in the Connacht FBD League final of 2009 which New York lost by 1-18 to 0-4 in Gaelic Park.

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