GAA Football

New Yorkers can bounce back from Covid19: Crossmaglen Rangers ace Aaron Cunningham

Double All-Ireland winner Aaron Cunningham is holed up in New York

CROSSMAGLEN’S New York-based Aaron Cunningham says the inter-county scene Stateside will be decimated for the rest of the year – but is confident his adopted city will overcome the deadly coronavirus pandemic.

New York is one of the worst hit cities in the world with around 13,000 registered deaths through Covid19 and that figure is expected to climb over the coming weeks.

Cunningham, who won back-to-back All-Irelands with Crossmaglen Rangers in 2011 and 2012, moved to New York in 2016 where he’s lined out for Longford GAA.

“When I first came out here our team was littered with inter-county players. Jamie [Clarke] was out here, Kevin Nolan of Dublin, Brian Kavanagh and Peter Foy of Longford...

“The football is of a decent standard and we’re hoping it gets back to where it was, but I don’t see it getting back this year and while the teams have a lot of homegrown players, a lot of them still rely on students coming over for the summer to build a panel, and I can’t see that happening in the current climate.”

While many ex-pats have decided to return home, Cunningham has opted to stay put in Hoboken, New Jersey and hopes to return to being a bartender in The Ashford in New Jersey City by the end of June.

“I was lucky I was in a position to stay as I was able to put a few dollars away for a rainy day,” said the 30-year-old midfielder.

“I know a lot of people had to go home because they just couldn’t afford to be here, and a lot of them mightn’t be fully legal, so they won’t be coming back. It’s just a very, very bizarre time.

“I’m not really homesick,” he added.

“I’d love to be able to go home, give everyone a big hug and come straight back to New York. I'm lucky to have such a good tight-knit group of friends out here which helps.”

Cunningham insists going home and resuming his football career with Crossmaglen Rangers was never really an option despite the financial hardship.

“It will be a challenge mentally and financially. But this is my dream. I’m living my dream actually by living in New York. I’d like to stay here for the foreseeable future. I’m 30 now so I’d say my ’Cross days are over.

“I’d some great times and playing for ‘Cross and it opened a lot of doors for me, but Gaelic football and medals don’t put money in the bank account or dinner on the table.”

New York may have been badly hit by the deadly virus, but Cunningham says the city can bounce back from these terrible times.

“New York people are quite robust. They’ve been through a lot over the years – 9/11 and a couple of bombings previous to that too. They are a resilient people…

“I love New York, I love the fast pace, I love the go-go-go… but now it’s not the most important thing and it sort of makes you value what you’ve got: your friends, your family and your health. Basically, everything else doesn’t matter.”

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