McGrath confirms first Test squad

Ireland manager Pete McGrath has named his 23-man squad for tomorrow's International Rules first Test against Australia at the Subiaco Oval, Perth (11.45am Irish time).

Ireland manager Pete McGrath has named his 23-man squad for tomorrow's International Rules first Test against Australia at the Subiaco Oval, Perth (11.45am Irish time).

Due to the limiting of a matchday squad in the hybrid game to 23 players (15 starters), former Down boss McGrath has been forced to axe four players from his travelling party of 27 for the 2005 Series opener.

Ryan McMenamin, Ross Munnelly, who have been struggling with a chest infection and dead leg respectively, Phillip Jordan and Dessie Dolan are the unlucky quartet to lose out.

Three of the four are debutants in the Irish squad, while Westmeath ace Dolan's omission is surprising given his previous Rules experience.

The Garrycastle clubman was Ireland's top scorer in last year's Series with 15 points in each Croke Park Test, and Dolan also started the 2003 Series first Test at the Subiaco Oval.

McGrath, who confirmed that all four will play in the second Test next Friday, said: "I spoke to each of them personally and their attitude was positive and supportive.

"Their application is indicative of the team ethic of this squad."

Tyrone's All-Ireland winning captain Brian Dooher is one of seven Rules debutants in the squad who are likely to see action tomorrow. Stephen O'Neill, Ronan Clarke, Colm "Gooch" Cooper, Michael Meehan and Owen Mulligan and goalkeeper Michael McVeigh are the other first-timers.

At Thursday's press conference, McGrath was giving little away when asked what he knew of the Australian squad.

"I don't know anything about them," he admitted.

"I know what we are good at and Kevin (Sheedy) knows what we are good at as well, but we will try and go out and impose our game, our style on proceedings.

"If you become obsessed with the opposition or if you have to try and change your own principles and beliefs on how the game should be played to suit the opposition or to counter the opposition then I think that puts you on the back foot."

Ireland are holders of the Cormac McAnallen Cup thanks to their 132-82 aggregate win twelve months ago. Since 1984, Ireland have won six of the 11 Test Series played with the Antipodeans.

Ireland Squad (23): Michael McVeigh (Down), Eoin Brosnan (Kerry), Graham Canty (Cork), Sean Cavanagh (Tyrone), Ronan Clarke (Armagh), Colm Cooper (Kerry), Benny Coulter (Down), Bryan Cullen (Dublin), Brian Dooher (Tyrone), Matty Forde (Wexford), David Heaney (Mayo), Padraic Joyce (Galway, capt), Tom Kelly (Laois), Sean Martin Lockhart (Derry), Anthony Lynch (Cork), Ciaran McDonald (Mayo), Brian McGuigan (Tyrone), Ciaran McManus (Offaly), Michael Meehan (Galway), Owen Mulligan (Tyrone), Sean Og O hAlpin (Cork), Stephen O'Neill (Tyrone), Tomas O Se (Kerry).

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