Joe Kernan confident Ireland won’t be intimidated by Aussie muscle

Joe Kernan has dismissed Chan Wingard’s comments about Ireland, insisting his team won’t be intimidated by Australia.

Port Adelaide player Wingard last week stressed the superiority he feels the home side enjoy against Kernan’s group – “We’re professional athletes, they’re amateurs,” he said. “This is our job full-time, so we’ve been hitting the gym. We’re obviously a lot fitter than they are, so we’ve got to use that advantage. If it’s physicality, we’ve got a few big boys to try and push them around and try and win. Whatever advantage we get, and what we think we have, we’re going to use.”

However, Kernan responded: “That’s someone just talking. I think they know themselves that the squad we’ve brought is big, strong, and mobile. We kick the ball well. They’ve picked a mobile squad as well. They seem to be learning from us in that aspect of the game.

“Sometimes, you don’t know what they’ll bring to the table. The last time we played them, they played a very high game which surprised us to a certain extent. They always seem to have a man free, which caused problems.”

Kernan rejected the idea that Australia will try to outmuscle Ireland. “I can’t see that happening. I can’t see any of them intimidating Aidan O’Shea, Michael Murphy, Zach Tuohy, or any of the other lads either. We’re well able for that. You can be physical in one way or dirty in another and in fairness I think they’ve gone from that.

“They play good football and they know that’s the way forward for the game. Two years ago, we both put up a good show of attacking football and got the fans on the edge of their seats.”

Pearce Hanley found Wingard’s comments amusing: “I’d a good laugh at that. The Irish boys have bridged the gap. It’s turned more into a running game so the Aussies aren’t going to be as big or as strong as they used to be.

“They’ve always said they’re looking to throw their weight around so I can only imagine what sort of game they want to play.”

Hanley won’t back off from the verbals — “I’ve copped my fair share of slack growing up being the Irish kid off a few of them so I’ll remember that at the weekend.”

With temperatures set to hit the mid 30s in Adelaide on Sunday, 2002 All-Ireland winning manager Kernan admitted the heat will be a factor. “Certainly, It will be one of the biggest problems but, having said that, Irish players seem to be able to adapt to that. Our boys are in good shape — they’ll cope. Tell them they can’t do something and they’ll do it. That’s just the nature of Gaelic players — it’s an instinct.”

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