The Scotstown man only arrived into Perth yesterday having received the phonecall from Joe Kernan following Sunday’s first test to see if he could fly out to replace the injured Pearce Hanley.
Three years ago, McManus starred for Ireland in Perth having only arrived days before the one-off test because of Clontibret’s Ulster semi-final against Slaughtneil.
Hughes, who had been part of the training panel at the outset in Ireland and has played in three previous series, admitted he was surprised to get the call-up. “Yeah I was. I wasn’t long sleeping after the game, having got up to watch it. I was surprised to get it but happy to come out.
“I was at a couple of the training sessions, but it was getting too hectic with the club. When we went to the replay with Ballybay (Monaghan SFC semi-final) I just left it. I couldn’t commit. I had the conversation with Joe and said I wasn’t in a position to be in contention with the club training on Friday night and the boys being in Dublin the same nights. The club had to come first at that stage of the year.”
Hughes was also involved in the 2014 one-off game in Perth as he was in 2011 when Ireland beat a second-string Australian group. He is glad to be able to contribute having been a slightly frustrated onlooker on Sunday. “(Nathan) Fyfe’s goal was a big turning point in the third quarter to give them a bit of a comfort zone, but the lads did well to come back into it and I don’t think 10 points is that big a deficit with the scoring system in this game.
“I haven’t got in for any tactical meetings so far but I’d say we’ll be looking at keeping it a bit tighter around the middle third. They got through there a bit easy maybe. We need to help the boys up front, Conor (McManus) and Michael (Murphy) were doing most of the scoring, they need a helping hand.”
Part of Hughes’ baggage included two additional team shirts for him and Ciarán Sheehan. Kit suppliers O’Neills received the order for the pair’s kit at 2pm on Monday and by 10.15pm that night it was delivered to Hughes to bring with him on his flight.