St. Barnabas Clubman Johnny McGeeney Appointed as New York Senior Football Manager

New York Football Manager Johnny McGeeney (Photo by Michael Dorgan)
New York Football Manager Johnny McGeeney (Photo by Michael Dorgan)

McGeeney, aged 35, from Armagh, helped guide St Barnabas to back-to-back senior county titles over the past two seasons with teams made up of all American-born players — a history-making feat given that no homegrown team had ever previously won New York football’s top prize. St Barnabas are based in the Woodlawn, Bronx, and McLean Avenue in southeast Yonkers.

The Culloville man has also managed the New York development squad for the past five years which consists of American-born 17- to 22-year-olds. He led them to a Native Men’s Football Championship at the 2019 World Games.

McGeeney’s initial task will be attempting to lead New York to a first win in the Connacht SFC against Sligo at Gaelic Park on Easter Sunday. The Empire State is winless since first entering the competition in 1999.

“Johnny has all the right credentials… we are delighted he is taking up the position and we wish him the best of luck,” New York chairperson Joan Henchy said. “He has put together a very knowledgeable management team who are familiar with both American-born and Irish-born players here.”

McGeeney’s backroom team is made up of Gareth Bailie (Down), Brian Henry (Sligo), Tommy Quaid (Kerry), and Michael Caterson (Tyrone). Bailie won an All-Ireland medal with Down in 1991 and both he and McGeeney played at inter-county level for New York.

Read More: St. Barnabas Claim Historic Back-to-Back New York Senior Football Titles

The New York team that faced Mayo in 2019 (Photo by Michael Dorgan)
The New York team that faced Mayo in 2019 (Photo by Michael Dorgan)

Henchy said McGeeney’s broader objective is to bring continuity back to the senior setup, given the county has not played championship since a heavy defeat to Mayo in 2019. McGeeney takes over the reins from Longford’s Gerry Fox who was appointed for the 2020 season but never got a chance to field a team since New York failed to take part in the last two Connacht Championships due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The county board is looking for McGeeney to put together a panel made up of American-born players and long-term immigrants, Henchy said.

“The emphasis has to be on self-sustainability and stopping the turnover of players. It’s been very high in the past with fellas staying [immigrating] for one or two years and then leaving – you can’t build for the future around that.”

McGeeney is very accustomed to both categories of players having lived permanently in New York since 2011 where he has been heavily involved in Gaelic games as both a player and manager.

Read More: Dargan Hat-Trick Seals NY Senior County for Kerry/Donegal

New York will also enter a team into the revamped All-Ireland Junior Football Championship for the first time next season. Players must be American-born and have come up through the county’s youth ranks to qualify to play.

The senior and junior panels will train together – and play in-house matches – which will be of a massive benefit to McGeeney’s cause given the seniors have always struggled to find competitive games ahead of the championship opener. New York does not take part in the National League and local club sides typically only begin regrouping in April.

“That has always been our Achilles heel, inter-county set-ups at home always get a lot more games than we do,” Henchy said.

An additional benefit to McGeeney will be that the seniors are guaranteed two championship games for the first time having been entered into the 2022 Tailteann Cup.

New York will travel to Ireland to take part in the competition.

A shorter version of this story first appeared in the Irish Examiner on Dec. 20, 2021. 

New York v Mayo, Gaelic Park, May 5, 2019 (Photo by Michael Dorgan)
New York v Mayo, Gaelic Park, May 5, 2019 (Photo by Michael Dorgan)