FORMER Cork underage footballer Jamie Davis is in contention to start for the New York senior footballers when they play Sligo in a Connacht championship quarter-final tie on Sunday, April 17.
The former Douglas player who moved to New York with his wife Hayley in January 2020 has been training hard with the New York senior footballers in recent months as they prepare for the upcoming visit of Sligo. He is looking forward to savouring what should be a great atmosphere in Gaelic Park on Sunday week.
“There should be a great atmosphere on the day. There’s great excitement given the lack of action the past two years and people are dying for a day out, I think. It’s a unique fixture in the GAA calendar so it’d be fantastic to give a good showing of ourselves,” he said.
New York were recently defeated by Salthill in the annual Sean Armstrong Senior Tournament. Their lack of competitive games before the start of the championship season always ensures they are at a disadvantage compared to other counties.
They are playing as many internal games as possible to ensure they are up to speed for the Sligo game.
“We’re training hard and playing a lot of internal games to try and get the much-needed match prep which is obviously difficult given there’s no neighbouring counties or club teams. It is a unique situation.
"We always had multiple challenge games with Cork lined up but it’s just impossible to recreate that here. The Salthill game was a good test for us. Training since has been fantastic as we have worked on areas, we felt we can improve on.”
The 27-year-old defender enjoyed a very distinguished underage career with various Cork football teams. He played with the Cork minors in 2011 and 2012 before advancing to the U21 team in 2014 and 2015.
Davis also played a few games in the McGrath Cup for the Cork senior footballers. He is happy with his current form which he hopes will be rewarded with a starting place for the Sligo game.
“I have been relatively happy. I’ve played across the defence in all positions.
"It’d be a nice reward to be involved in the Sligo game. We have a panel of 40 lads and there is a good mix of Irish and American-born players. It is great to see the amount of American-born players who have shone in the club championships the last two years.”
Davis joined Manhattan Gaels shortly after moving to New York at the behest of fellow Cork man Cormac O’Keeffe. His subsequent form with the Gaels ensured he received a deserved call up to the New York senior team.
He loves the ‘sense of community’ the GAA has provided since his move to the Big Apple.
“Manhattan Gaels are the only club based in the city with most being in the Bronx, Queens and Brooklyn. It’s a very welcoming club. They make a big effort to organise social events.
"That sense of community is key when abroad. We probably took that for granted growing up at home but in a big city, the GAA can be a crutch and hugely helpful in getting settled.
“I joined Manhattan Gaels as Cormac O’Keefe from Blackrock was involved. We work for the same company, so he had me signed up before I had moved over.
"The club season is organised very well. The league will start after the county game and then the championship will start in July. We will have games every week for about a two-month period before it’s usually wrapped up by September.
“It was nice to be asked into the New York senior setup. It wasn’t easy in the harsh, winter months but it’s getting enjoyable over the past few weeks with the evenings getting slightly warmer and longer. I’m enjoying being back involved with a setup like this. I hadn’t really played much football for two or three years prior to my move to New York. When I re-joined it was mostly to meet lads and for the pure enjoyment."
Davis and his family are loving life in New York.
"It’s a great city. We live in Midtown East so not too far from a lot of the action. The first year out here everything was new, so we made the most of a quieter than usual city due to Covid.
"For the past year, our lives have changed massively with the birth of our son, Jesse. Luckily, Central Park is a 15-minute walk so that’s our usual getaway from the madness.
“New York always appealed to me. It’s a melting pot of different cultures and there are always exciting events happening.
"Hayley was born here and always wanted to spend some time closer to her family out here. My family will be coming over for the game.
"They had plans to visit prior to the Sligo game anyway so they are thrilled it is coinciding with the game. My son is 10 months now so having two weeks together in person will be cherished."
Davis comes from a decorated GAA family whose exploits have greatly inspired him as he now seeks to make his senior inter-county debut with New York.
Jamie’s father Anthony Davis won a plethora of All-Ireland titles with both club and county, while his uncles Don, Pat, and Gearoid also enjoyed very successful careers.
“They paved their own paths and made history with Skibb so nobody will ever be able to take that away from them. Growing up, I always loved watching the old games and hearing stories of the battles they had on the way to winning the All-Ireland club title in 1993.
"It’d be brilliant to be involved with a New York team that makes history this month, but we know it’ll be a huge challenge. My father knows the game inside out and he’s always keen to hear how things are going.”
Jamie’s talented first cousin Kevin Davis was recently appointed captain of the O’Donovan Rossa senior footballers for this season.
“I’m delighted for Kevin. He’s given everything for Skibb, so he deserves it. I hope he can enjoy a run of games injury-free over the coming years because when he’s fit and enjoying his football, he’s a class act.
The former Douglas footballer still maintains a close eye on the progress of his former club.
“I’ve great memories of playing with the club. Playing with my best friends growing up around Douglas was amazing. We had a great environment and quality people involved to get the best out of us to develop as players and adults.
“Most of my team on my age and the years above me dropped off after U21 for various reasons but my best friend, Paul Fitzgerald, is still involved in helping out the lads. He keeps me posted.
"I played senior for multiple years with the lads who are now in charge so it’s fantastic to see the progress that they’ve made, and I’m not surprised."
Davis also has fond memories of the many tussles Douglas and St Finbarr’s enjoyed at underage level during his club career. He is not surprised to see the Barrs emerge as one of the top senior clubs in the county.
“I still think we underachieved, but you just have to look at what the Barrs teams that beat us growing up have gone on to achieve. They’ve serious quality.
"I’d love to get the chance to do it all again, but we love it here for now.”