International Rules demands more skill than Gaelic football, according to Kildare midfielder Kevin Feely.
The demands of the hybrid game, particularly accurate kicking, is part of the reason why the Athy man is currently in Adelaide preparing for his debut test.
In a training game in Melbourne’s Punt Road Oval on Wednesday evening, 25-year-old Feely gave some indication he won’t be found wanting when he faces up to the Australians on Sunday.
The challenge of mastering pinpoint kicks from midfield intrigues him.
“For me, the most appealing aspect of it is the skill level required. The level of kick-passing you have to reach to be good in this game is far beyond what you get in Gaelic football because if your pass is off or if a ball bounces when it’s not meant to bounce the receiver ends up under serious pressure.
“In that sense, the six weeks has brought on this squad’s kick-passing a huge amount and then your handling has to be spot-on as well. The skill required exceeds what you’d expect from Gaelic football.”
For such a talented sportsman, it’s surprising Feely was never approached by an AFL club although his younger sibling Rory has attracted some interest. Kildare, after all, has been mined for talent by Australia over the years. Feely has sought counsel from a few of those from the county who have Rules experience.
“I’ve spoke to Daniel (Flynn) and Paddy (Brophy) and then obviously you had Seán Hurley and even my younger brother has had a bit of interest as well so it’s been nice to chat to them about what to expect.
“The biggest thing they say they had to adjust to was the athleticism and the physicality and we’ve been made aware by the lads who have played this game that athletically it exceeds anything they had experienced playing Gaelic football so I think that is going to be the biggest challenge — can we match them athletically and for speed and power? As long as we’re on the ball with our own skills, that’s where we can be competitive.”
Like several in the Ireland squad, Feely is fair-skinned but he’s not too perturbed by the hot conditions in Adelaide and Perth.
“You know by looking at me that I’m not that well prepared for it! It was nice to have some cold at the start (in Melbourne) to adjust but Adelaide and Perth are going to be right up there in terms of the heat.
“That is definitely going to take adjusting to and I’ll be very glad of the interchanges and we’ll be making the most of them. We’ll get used to the heat after a while.”
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