Compromise Rules tours set to take place every two years

THE future of international competition between the GAA and the Australian Football League will be debated in Dubai next week, when it’s expected an agreement will be reached to limit tours to every second year.

Yesterday, GAA president Nickey Brennan revealed that, based on preliminary discussions in January, there appeared to be a consensus in favour of the change from annual tours.

The Australians are due to come to Ireland in October, when they will play the first of two Compromise Rules tests in Pearse Stadium in Galway and the second in Croke Park. On that basis, Ireland won’t travel to Australia until 2008.

While supporters of the concept believe the change will reduce the attractiveness of the games, Nickey Brennan believes otherwise.

“We feel every year is a bit too much. Maybe it’s expecting too much of players to playing every year, given all the inter-county competitions that are organised, as well as club competitions. The feeling is that every two years would be better.’’

The outrage caused in Ireland by the level of violence in the second test in Melbourne last October predictably led to a loss of support for the concept from a variety of sources. And, when the two bodies met in Melbourne last January to review the tour, it was agreed that ‘the unsporting behaviour of some players was totally unacceptable and not in accordance with the rules or the spirit of the matches.”

A number of issues were decided at the Melbourne meeting, when then president Sean Kelly, accompanied by Nickey Brennan and Director-General Liam Mulvihill, met with the AFL Chief Executive Officer Andrew Demetriou.

Against the background of what happened in Melbourne last year, it has already been agreed that no replacement will be allowed for any player who is red-carded. The Joint Control committee for the series is to conduct a detailed review of the playing rules and the conduct of the series, and this is expected to take place soon.

Addressing GAA concerns over the ‘drafting’ of young players to AFL clubs, their Chief Executive has promised a review of their rules. This matter is likely to be discussed next week.

Meanwhile, Cork and Mayo have stuck by the starting teams that carried them through their respective semi-finals against Laois and Tyrone for Sunday’s All-Ireland U21 football championship final at Cusack Park, Ennis.

Meanwhile, Down’s Benny Coulter has recovered from a hand injury and will be fit for Sunday’s Bank of Ireland Ulster SFC opener against Cavan at Casement Park.

Cavan will be without injured Nicholas Walsh, Michael Lyng and Darren Rabbitte, plus suspended Anthony Forde. In addition, Jason O’Reilly and Larry Reilly are doubtful.

Reilly has only just come off crutches after a recent injury, while O’Reilly is struggling after pulling a hamstring in training two weeks ago.

The Cavan injury crisis means Paul Brady is likely to start, despite opting out of the NFL because of his handball commitments, while Gerald Pierson is also set to be risked despite only returning to action after a cruciate ligament injury.

CORK (U21 FC v Mayo): K. O’Halloran; R. Carey, C. Murphy, S. O’Donoghue; D. Limerick, M. Shields, E. Cadogan; A. O’Connor, P. Kelly; F. Goold, C. Keane, P. Kerrigan; D. Goulding, P. O’Flynn, J. Hayes.

MAYO (U21 v Cork): K. O’Malley; T. Howley, G. Cafferkey, K. Higgins; C. Barrett, T. Canniffe, C. Boyle; S. O’Shea, B. Moran; A. Campbell, J. Dillon, A. Kilcoyne; M. Ronaldson, M. Hannick, M. Conroy.

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