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From Wexford to New York - PJ Banville has taken his love of football across the Atlantic

The full-forward is one of six new faces in the New York side for Sunday’s Connacht SFC opener against Galway.

PJ Banville pictured in Times Square this week.
PJ Banville pictured in Times Square this week.
Image: New York GAA

HE MAY BE thousands of miles from home but Wexford’s PJ Banville has lost none of his love for the game as he prepares to spearhead New York’s Championship tilt.

The 29-year-old forward announced in January that he would be bowing out of the Model County set-up in order to continue his travels having spent much of last summer in America.

Now, having returned to New York, Banville is one of six new faces in Ian Galvin’s side to face Galway in Sunday’s Connacht Senior Football Championship opener at Gaelic Park.

There’s been a significant change in personnel from the side that were defeated by Mayo last year but the addition of Banville to the panel has been a major boost as The Exiles look to make history in 2015.

“There was a temptation not to play,” Banville said during the week. “But when the opportunity came I said, ’will I or won’t I?’. I love football that much and I did miss is. It’s hard not to play football, give up for one year and just do nothing.

“It’s a nice change as well. It’s different scenery and you get to see a lot of things out there. I wanted to take a year out but I’m stilling getting to play my football and it’s keeping me occupied as well.”

Last year, the 29-year-old featured for Wexford in all three of their Championship games but once their involvement ended, he headed across the Atlantic for the remainder of the summer.

Banville is keen to see the sights and sounds of the world but his travel plans depend on the outcome of Sunday’s game.

“I’ll see how the game games and then I might move onto another destination,” the Horeswood club man explained. “I’m planning on travelling the world and I’m thinking of maybe going to Mexico and Peru next week but we’ll wait and see how Sunday goes.”

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PJ Banville reacts to a missed chance There are 12 counties represented in New York's team to face Galway this weekend Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

The full-forward’s absence from the Wexford panel has proved to be a major setback with David Power’s side suffering relegation to Division 4 of the Allianz Leagues.

Wexford begin their 2015 Championship campaign against Louth or Westmeath on 14 June and Banville admits the decision to leave was a difficult one.

“It wasn’t easy, it was a hard decision to go,” he said. “The way I looked at it was I am at an age where I had to decide ‘look do I want to go travelling for a year?’ Maybe a year or two it could be too late to go.

“I was after giving ten years so I thought the time was right to take a year out and maybe  freshen myself up maybe next year go back and see how it goes. I haven’t ruled out not going back. The manager understood my decision and left the door open. We’ll see what the future holds.”

Wexford’s loss is almost certainly New York’s gain.

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Ryan Bailey

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