The chances of the International Rules series taking place this year are diminishing as the GAA and AFL have yet to come to an agreement.
The hybrid game was last played in Adelaide and Perth in 2017, and it is Ireland’s turn to host the two tests, but hopes of matches going ahead this year are looking slim.
“There is no update at the moment,” said GAA director of player, club and games administration Feargal McGill. “We haven’t given up yet on it (happening this year) but there are difficulties to overcome.”
The GAA and AFL last met in Sydney in October where the AFL’s keenness to stage a test in the US was again raised. However, there are logistical problems around such a move as a sufficiently-sized playing surface has yet to be found. A Stateside test would also raise financing questions for the GAA as revenue previously incurred frommatches has gone towards funding the cost of playing the tests in Australia.
Where there has been more progress is GAA president John Horan’s determination to ensure Gaelic footballers who take up AFL contracts are educated on what lies ahead for them in Australia.
The GAA’s player welfare department has begun to execute the Horan-commissioned audit of the experience of players “who play or have played AFL and see what lessons can be learned”.
Of the 58 players who have signed for AFL clubs (seven inked contracts this year), only five have made more than 100 Premiership appearances and just 24 players have actually played one or more Premiership games.
There are currently 14 Irish players with AFL contracts and five more are set for trials — Ronan Devereux and Barry O’Connor (Wexford), Ross McQuillan (Armagh), Peadar Mogan (Donegal), and Luke Towey (Sligo).