Farney’s Darren Hughes answers Ireland’s call Down Under

As Ireland prepare to introduce as many as three new faces to their squad for Saturday’s second test in Perth, Joe Kernan says Ireland must score at least three goals to stand a chance of winning the series.

Kernan yesterday confirmed International Rules veteran Darren Hughes is flying to Australia to replace the injured Pearce Hanley while Derry’s Hawthorn player Conor Glass could also be called up if virus victims Niall Murphy or Enda Smith not be fit to play.

Should both be unable, another player may also be introduced.

The importance of having a full complement of 23 isn’t lost on Kernan who has also put it up to his forwards to at least triple their return of goals from the first test.

“It’s about looking at how we played, how we can improve and how we can stop the Australians doing the things they did well,” said the Armagh native, who felt Ireland lost their composure “completely” in the third quarter. 

“There’s a lot of video work to be done, assessing where we went wrong. Our passing was poor at times and that’s not like us. It’s about being calm under pressure, which we weren’t at times.

“We need more guys in the scoring areas, lads popping points (overs) all the time. We need to hit the net –-if we get five chances we need to take at least three of them.” 

On Hughes’ call-up and the possibility of Glass coming into the camp, Kernan remarked: “Darren Hughes is on his way out. He ticks all the boxes – he covers us in a lot of positions. It will be great to have him here. It’s unfortunate for Pearce, he was playing very well.

“We’ll assess the other boys (Smith and Murphy) first. We’ll wait and see how they are during the week. They couldn’t even go to the match yesterday. So I’ll sit down and talk to the doc later in the week and see how they are for next weekend. Those two boys got a bad going over. A few others had it too. Just didn’t go as bad. Hopefully, it’s contained now.”

Meanwhile, Killian Clarke was left frustrated by the difference in interpretations between the two referees in Sunday’s first test. The Cavan man accepted he made a couple of mistakes but was left bemused by the differences in officiating by Maurice Deegan and Australian Matt Stavic.

“We probably let ourselves down a little bit some of our kick-passing going astray, and our decision-making. Even myself, kicking a ball into a man’s hands on the mark, it’s just unacceptable.

“We’re constantly learning. There’s a few different interpretations from the two referees, Maurice is probably a wee bit different from Matt on certain things. We’re after being exposed to it so we’ll take it on board and develop it for next week.” 

At one stage, a free was given against Clarke for what appeared to be a fair tackle.

“I was keeping the ball on the ground because I knew I’d get wrapped if I lifted it. I let him (Eddie Betts) lift it because I knew he was right beside me and I could wrap him. The rules we’ve been playing is that if someone has the ball on the ground, you have to release him and let him play. It’s just a different interpretation over here. The free was given because he didn’t roll when I wrapped him, I just kind of fell on top of him, so it’s something to pick up on.”

Clarke turned up in Dublin Airport last Sunday week only to discover that his passport was invalid. Thankfully, the situation was addressed and he flew out the next day.

“I think I ran up a few more red flags than Jason Bourne trying to get through the airport. Interpol were asking a few questions!” he laughed.


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