Kennelly pleads for the future of Rules Series

AFL players will be just as regretful as their GAA counterparts if the International Rules Series is abandoned, according to Tadhg Kennelly.

The Listowel native, who will miss out on the opportunity of captaining the Irish team if there is no tour next year, believes the GAA should canvass players before deciding on the future of the concept.

Kennelly, who won an AFL Premiership with Sydney Swans last year, feels authorities should consider having four referees — two operating in each half of the field — in order to end the ill discipline which dominated the second test.

Said Kennelly: “What went on in the first 10 minutes of that game was very embarrassing because I know that Australian players do not carry on like that in Australia.

“It’s very hard to know what the solution is. But it seems to me that the more ‘eyes’ you have on the field the better — and the more authority you give to the referees is crucial.

“If you had two referees (one Irish and one Australian) operating within either ‘65, you’d be talking about four referees on the field.”

The guest of honour at the Camogie Allstars presentation in Dublin at the weekend, Kennelly says that it would be “a shame” to see the series ending. In simple terms, it’s the players who “got the physical attention” in the game, but they are as committed as ever to seeing the series continued.

“I know what happened in the first quarter didn’t look too good, but it means so much to the Irish players to be representing their country.

“You see Irish people all over the world wanting to be represented as Irish and Gaelic footballers get that opportunity. I have played in eight games and I have a bond with every player I played with.

“We had 82,000 people in Croke Park and I could see 70,000-plus attending the games next year in Australia if there is a tour. After players win the Australian Premiership, all they want to do is party and enjoy themselves for two months when the season finishes. But a week later, four of them were here in Ireland to play two games in our country. They rate it just as highly as we do.

“That’s why what happened in Croke Park for the first 10 minutes was so disappointing. They had us beaten in Galway until they started to play around with the ball. And what people will remember about the second game is what happened at the start, not all the good football that they played.

“This a game that could grow so much if it was played in the right spirit.’’

Kennelly says he will feel cheated if there is no trip next year, given that Sean Boylan announced last month that he would be vice-captain for this year’s series and “lead the team in Australia”.

“To captain your country would be the highest honour and it would be a major disappointment if the series does not continue,’’ he added.

Meanwhile, Kennelly is committed to the Australian game for at least another year, pointing out that it remains a major aspiration to win an All-Ireland medal with Kerry.

“If I was to get a euro every time I was asked how long more I will stay in Australia I’d be a rich man now,’’ he joked. “Every September when the season finishes I sit down with my mom and people that are close to me and I say: ‘Will I come home, or will I go back?’

“It’s what is right for me and right for my family at the time.

“It’s more of an aspiration for me to win that medal since my dad passed away.

“It’s probably one of the major disappointments in my life that I was not able to win an All-Ireland while he was around.’’

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