Galveston Island and New Orleans share many things in common: a love of the sea, summertime, community camaraderie, and of course the beautiful game.
The biggest similarity, however, that may be looked at when these two teams meet is the two head coaches on the sidelines. Galveston Pirate SC head coach Brendan Keyes and New Orleans Jesters head coach Kenneth Farrell are fellow Irishmen. Farrell played top-flight football in the League of Ireland with Shelbourne before leading the Salem State Vikings to an NCAA Division III Final Four. Keyes played with Home Farm as a youth, the biggest club in Ireland at the time, before turning pro with the Houston Hurricanes and Houston Force.
“Kenny is a longtime friend of mine," Keyes stated. "We share the love for the game and he’s a great competitor. I was excited when I heard he’d be coming over to the NPSL. He’s got a quality side and maybe one that can make some noise for the national title. It will definitely be a good test for us before the start of the season.”
The New Orleans Jesters are set to be one of many expansion clubs to join the NPSL for the 2013 season. The Jesters had played in the USL’s Premier Development League since 2003 before switching leagues.
The Jesters believe a home-and-away against the Pirates just before the start of the regular season will help to prepare them for their inaugural season in the NPSL. The Galveston Pirate capped off a successful first season in 2012 by capturing the South Central Division title in their first try.
The Galveston-New Orleans Derby will see the first leg played on May 8, 2013 in Galveston County with the Chester L. Davis Sportsplex designated as the tentative host field. The second leg will be played just three days later on May 11 at Pan American Stadium in New Orleans where the Jesters are already looking at a big fan contingency.
“I really hope our fans will embrace this rivalry," Keyes added. "I think it’s got the makings to really become a good derby like Portland and Seattle share in the MLS. Kenny tells me he expects to have some 2000 fans for the return leg which would make for an incredible, passionate atmosphere.”
The 2013 NPSL schedule has not been released, but it is expected that the season will begin in late May. That means that this bout may be the last preseason fixture for both teams. The 2013 season is expected to feature more than 60 teams competing nationally with the Jesters amongst the contenders for the national championship.
“I really think they can be one of the better teams to challenge for the league, along with the Liverpool Warriors," Keyes concluded. "They have very good players that work together and Kenny’s track record says it all."
In the meantime the Pirates will look to continue tryouts for 2013 in early January before heading to India in February for their International Camp in Mumbai.
Photo Credit: Galveston Pirate SC