McNamee ready for Australian challenge

McNamee ready for Australian challenge

Offaly forward Niall McNamee is hoping for a winning debut on Saturday night, having been selected in Ireland's 23-man panel to face Australia in the International Rules first Test at the Gaelic Grounds.

McNamee was among seven stand-by players announced at the squad announcement last week, but has received the nod for the matchday squad after Down's Benny Coulter failed to recover in time from a hamstring njury.

It is a busy time for McNamee who recently helped his club Rhode to their 24th Offaly Senior Club Football Championship title.

"I'm delighted obviously to get the call-up after the county final," he enthused "I got a phone call on the Tuesday and Anthony (Tohill) told me that I was on stand-by.

"He rang me again last Friday and said that I was in the 23. Obviously it's a great honour.

"It was difficult with Rhode and everything to try and fit in the time at the weekends to train with them. I was thankful that I actually got the opportunity and I'm really looking forward to Saturday now."

McNamee has attended five training weekends to date with the Ireland squad, although Rhode has always been foremost in his mind.

"It was very hard to work it between Rhode and then Ireland as well. Anytime I have been up there I have really enjoyed it and it is something the more you play the more you get used to it," he told Midlands 103.

However, he is fully aware that the hybrid code is something that you simply cannot adapt to overnight.

"You can't just go in having played a game of football and adapt to this game straight away. There's a lot of different aspects to it, such as the tackle and the mark.

"It's something I'm enjoying though and I obviously wouldn't do it if I didn't enjoy it."

The International Rules Series provides the rare opportunity for Gaelic footballers to represent their country. Giving his own opinion on it, McNamee says that it is a huge personal honour and also a tremendous boost for his club and his family.

"All of the people at home have been very supportive to me. Rhode came first for me this year trying to win the Championship.

"When the trials for Ireland came up I went any time I could go and lads were very supportive. I was always conscious that Rhode had to come first. Obviously winning the county final was our main objective and thankfully we got that done.

"Now that it is out of the way and there is three weeks of a break to the first round of the Leinster Club Championship and this opportunity was there for me, to play for Ireland. I'll grasp it with both hands."

He added: "It is a great honour and everyone in the club and my family have been very supportive and they are all very proud.

"It's obviously a lovely feeling and that's a big help to have the backing of all the people around me also."

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