Aussies to take in Croker clash after Ireland battle

THE emergence of the GAA 126 years ago might have signalled the death knell for cricket as a mass participation sport in Ireland but the two codes are set to come face to face at Croke Park next weekend.

Ricky Ponting’s Australian side arrives in Dublin on Saturday for next week’s one-day international (ODI) against Ireland at Clontarf and will be staying at Jury’s Croke Park Hotel for the duration.

A number of the squad are due to attend the Leinster football championship double header the following afternoon and, with Dublin in action, there is likely to be a near full-house in the 82,250-capacity venue on the day.

Pat Gilroy’s side takes on Wexford at the top of the bill while Laois and Meath will get the action underway at 2pm. The winners of the two games will meet in a provincial semi-final two weeks later.

The tourists are also due to attend a function in the GAA Museum on the Monday where Kilkenny’s Henry Shefflin will reportedly offer some inside information on the techniques and skills adopted by the country’s top hurlers.

Shefflin’s presence would be entirely fitting as Kilkenny was one of the hotbeds of Irish cricket in the mid to late 19th century before the establishment of the GAA saw the game founder outside all but the main urban centres.

Dublin native Eoin Morgan has made huge waves since joining the Middlesex and England set-ups with observers awestruck by the Irishman’s unorthodox sweep shot which the player himself has attributed to his younger days playing hurling.

The arrival of the Australians on these shores is big news for the Irish cricket community, not least because the tourists are bringing a full-strength squad with them before departing for the UK. The number-one ranked ODI side in the world, Ponting’s men will play nine internationals in England including five ODIs against the host nation as well as two tests and two Twenty20 fixtures against a Pakistan side which cannot play on home soil due to security issues.

The game against Ireland takes place on Thursday, June 17 and, though the Australians will be in work mode for the most part, there are also plans for a round of golf at the Portmarnock championship course.

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