Optimistic Joe Kernan understands reasons for International Rules withdrawals

Ireland International Rules manager Joe Kernan understands James McCarthy’s view that the country may never be able to field their strongest team, but he is happy with the hand available to him travelling to Australia.
Optimistic Joe Kernan understands reasons for International Rules withdrawals

The Dublin star is unavailable to Kernan on two counts: Club duty with Ballymun Kickhams in a Dublin final on Monday week and work commitments preventing him travelling with the squad on November 5.

McCarthy said last week: “You’ve got such a long season, committing to all the hard training, injuries. Ireland will never put their strongest team forward, I don’t think they ever have put their strongest side out. It’s just the nature of it, unfortunately.”

Regardless, Kernan will travel to Australia with optimism.

“Players will always give their best for their country, but it is difficult for everyone to give commitment, when first and foremost their commitment is to the club. If there was a bit of a switch in fixtures, more might be able to represent their country, but so many are busy playing football for club and county that they can’t afford to give much of their time and I can understand that.

“There are players who need to rehab injuries and have operations and other things. You also have guys who have to show commitment to their employers, who have shown them respect and commitment throughout the year. There’s nothing you can do about that, but we’re happy with the turnout we’ve had and the squad will be named shortly.”

Kernan is set to reveal his panel, captain and vice-captain in Dublin tomorrow week, before Ireland head to St Kilda in Melbourne on November 5, then travel to Adelaide on November 9 ahead of the first test on November 12. Next it’s west to Perth, where they will go into camp for a couple of days prior to the second test in the Domain Stadium (Subiaco Oval).

“We’re heading to Melbourne for a few days to adjust after a long journey. You’d like more time to get ready down there, but it’s not possible. We’ll be fine. We’ll do the right things, arrive Monday evening and get to work Tuesday morning and then two sessions on the Wednesday and Thursday before the test on the Sunday.”

Kernan wouldn’t reveal much about his panel only to confirm that Tipperary forward Conor Sweeney is in the shake-up. His club Ballyporeen’s Twitter account revealed over the weekend that Sweeney is to follow in the footsteps of his countymen Ciarán McDonald and Declan Browne. Kernan said: “Conor has done well, in fairness to him. He has been up every weekend with us.

“All the boys are looking good and we’ll be aiming to play a fast-moving game like we did in 2015. We hope to have a good spread of counties. We had 11 the last time and we might have the same this time around, or even better. It will be great for those players, their counties, their clubs, their families.”

He agrees the introduction of the mark to Gaelic football this year will assist Ireland. “It has been a big thing in our game this year and it’s something the players have to get used to as a basis.”

He said of the impressive Australian squad named last week: “It certainly is strong and they’re waiting now for Richmond to settle down after they won the Grand Final. They have 17 players there of equal quality and a lot who played in 2015. It’s not going to be easy. They will want to win at home and the second test in Perth is the last game in that venue, so that’s going to be important for them. There’ll be a lot riding on it.”

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