Duffy predicts large Croke Park crowd for International Rules return

Duffy predicts large Croke Park crowd for International Rules return

By John Fogarty

GAA director general Páraic Duffy has forecasted a return to large crowds for International Rules games in Ireland on foot of Saturday's competitive test.

In a brief meeting following the game, the AFL informed the GAA their All-Australians wish to play in Ireland next year although no agreement has been made on whether it will be a one or two test series.

Prior to this past weekend, there had been no commitment on the future of the hybrid game, but Duffy revealed his delight at an improved working relationship with the AFL under new chief executive Gillon McLachlan.

Duffy poured cold water over the Australians' aspirations of staging of one, if not the test, in New York or Boston next year -

"I think next year's one will be Irish-based.," he said.

"Whatever about playing a game somewhere else, I don't think it'll be next year. Next year will be in Ireland."

He is satisfied the series has been rejuvenated.

"We didn’t make any definitive decisions, but I think it’s fair to say that we all felt we needed a good game and we got a good game.," he said.

"I think it has definitely put International Rules back on track, which was clearly needed.

"They want to come next year. Now we have to go back to Central Council, they go back to their commission and so on. But broadly speaking they want to come to Ireland next year, they are very keen to come, their team are very keen to come.

"So what we said was that we will work on that over the next few weeks. We’d be anxious for a game in Dublin next year in Croke Park, something like if we had one big game maybe again and then we’ll see where we go from there.

"They have talked about playing a game in America and so on. There are no commitments on that but we just said we are open to talking about it.

"We needed a good game on Saturday and if we can do something similar in Dublin next year then we can look at where it goes long-term."

Duffy would not be drawn on whether he preferred a one or two-test series next year but admitted there were some merit in bringing a game to the States.

"In fairness to them, I wouldn’t rule it out," he said.

"They were talking about playing a game in New York or Boston or some place. When you saw the turnout of Irish people on Saturday and what it meant to them, you could replicate that in a place like Boston.

"The biggest problem with the likes of Boston is the weather at this time of the year. I wouldn’t close the door on it but I think what we will do is get either a one or a two game series hopefully next year and then look at the long-term picture.

"I do think after Saturday, if you could maintain the kind of game we had, you could get back to the days of full houses in Croke Park.

"For many years the GAA would have made money from International Rules. Break-even is fine, we don’t want to lose money on it. But I think it is still a possibility of playing a game in Boston or New York even once every so often."

Next year's test or tests are likely to be scheduled for the same time in November as it suits both organisations.

The success of Saturday means the delayed Football Review Committee motion backing the series is likely to be supported when earlier this year it appeared it would be defeated.

"I think this was the definitive game. I think now it is easier to go back to Central Council and make the case for the game," said Duffy.

"The game itself was excellent. It was sporting, it was hard, it was fair. I thought it flowed better than previous games.

"The rule changes really helped. The kickouts made a big difference, some very good high fielding, and the spirit in which it was played."

Duffy highlighted the significance of MacLachlan's backing for the series.

"I think there has been a sea-change since Gillon McLachlan took over, he has got an absolute commitment to the game.

"He was in Ireland last year, he wasn’t chief executive at the time but we knew from discussions with him then that he really wants to do this.

"He influenced the clubs, got the top coaches in the AFL, Clarkson won the Premiership last year, Ross Lyon and Chris Scott, they are the best coaches."

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