Shane Walsh believes Irish will learn from opening day lesson

Galway forward Shane Walsh arrives in Perth today confident that he can build on his International Rules debut last weekend.

One of 13 newcomers for Ireland on the day in Adelaide, the Kilkerrin-Clonberne man admits being slightly intimidated by the occasion, and the Australians, but feels assured he can take his game to them.

“The training at home can do a lot but it can’t fully prepare you for what you get in a game like this.

“The pace was fast and furious. The big thing I took out of it is to be more relaxed and I think we will in the second test. I wasn’t backing myself as much as I might have, especially when it came to running at them.

“It’s something I’ll be looking to do the next day. They’re no quicker than us; they’re no stronger than us. I feel I can create more space, get the head up and pick the pass — don’t rush shots or passes.”

Walsh made a lovely pick-up at the death to create a goal chance, only to blast it for a behind. He recalled: “I might have had a goal at the end. That would have taken their lead down to a few points. I probably had more time than I realised — again that’s something I’ll take into the next game. With the second test to come, I probably should have tapped it over the bar but I opted to have a go for a goal.”

Because of the loss of Niall Murphy and Enda Smith followed by Pearce Hanley’s hand injury, Walsh ended up playing more than he might have initially anticipated.

“Not having a full squad meant we all had to play that bit longer. I probably played 60-65 minutes. I learned a lot about the game — we all did — and I’m sure we can make it count next Saturday. 

“It’s a great game to play, really enjoyable. It’s all about pace and attacking. Mind you, it would be a lot more enjoyable if we won. We have to make sure we do that next time.”

Meanwhile, Australia could be reduced to just 20 players for Saturday’s clash as Michael Hibberd is carrying a calf difficulty. 

Geelong captain Joel Selwood is likely to be available having sat out the Adelaide game because of an ankle complaint. Collingwood skipper Scott Pendlebury is unlikely to be risked following his finger injury.

Australia were reduced to 22 players after Gary Ablett stepped away for personal reasons. Midfielder Patrick Ryder has also been cleared to play in the second test after he was permitted to leave Adelaide after police dropped assault charges against him following an incident outside an Adelaide nightclub on October 1. 

The Port Adelaide player was instead handed a written warning.

After return to training yesterday, both teams are scheduled to practice again in Perth on Thursday.


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