IRELAND boss Anthony Tohill has finalised his squad for Saturday night’s International Rules First Test in the Gaelic Grounds by drafting in Kildare defender Emmett Bolton and Offaly attacker Niall McNamee for the clash against Australia.
Bolton replaces Cork full-back Michael Shields who is ruled out due to his participation with St Finbarr’s in next Sunday’s Cork SFC final while McNamee comes in for injured Down attacker Benny Coulter.
Shields is set to be available for Saturday week’s second test in Croke Park while there are indications that the Ulster Council are set to defer Sunday week’s Ulster Club SFC quarter-final between Burren and Coleraine until November 7th, in order to free Down centre-back Kevin McKernan. Bolton and McNamee’s selections bring to 16 the number of counties that are supplying players to the Irish panel.
Galway full-back Finian Hanley admits he was delighted to get the nod as vice-captain for this year’s series.
“It is a huge honour for me and my family. It has been seven or eight weeks hard training and even getting picked is a huge honour. With the likes of Tadhg Kennelly and Graham Canty in the squad we’ll have plenty of vice captains, but it is great to get the nod. We’ll put in a big effort and hopefully we can take the win again,” said the Salthill/Knocknacarra clubman.
Meanwhile, Australia’s Dustin Fletcher, who was captain during their last trip to Ireland for the 2006 series, is confident that a change in their mentality will avoid a repeat of the violent scenes that marred the clashes four years ago.
“I was part of the series a few years ago but I think everyone has changed. We’re here now to play footy, enjoy ourselves and do our best, play hard and hopefully get a result. It’s changed, obviously Mick (Malthouse) is on board now, and the boys we’ve got here are here to play well.
“People come here to watch footy and I suppose that physical aspect is something that crowds come to see.
“We’re going to keep that up but we’re not going to go overboard, we’re here to enjoy ourselves and hopefully get a job done.”
The Australian squad trained yesterday morning in Páirc Ui Rinn ahead of tonight’s warm-up game at the venue against a Cork colleges selection and have no reported injury concerns. Fletcher is looking forward to pitting his wares against Tadhg Kennelly and Marty Clarke who the Essendon player has faced in AFL clashes.
“Obviously I’ve been playing footy for a long time so I know that Tadhg and Marty are fantastic people from what the Sydney and Collingwood boys have been telling us. We’ve seen videos of them over here and they seem to go pretty well, it’s a challenge for us coming over and playing with the round ball against them. They’re good fellas.
“Preparations are very good. We only had a little session on Monday, yesterday we stepped it up out in the wind and the weather.
“The boys’ skills are pretty good, obviously we’re going to learn more even in the next three or four days. Obviously kicking the round ball is a big thing, and physical pressure is another big one for us. If we wrap up in tackles, do the right thing there and put pressure on, hopefully it’ll stop the skills of the Irish.”
IRELAND: S McDonnell (Armagh), F Hanley (Galway), C Begley (Laois), B Brogan (Dublin), G Canty (Cork), S Cavanagh (Tyrone), M Clarke (Down), B Donaghy (Armagh), L Glynn (Wicklow), D Goulding (Cork), J Kavanagh (Kildare), P Keenan (Louth), T Kennelly (Kerry), S McDermott (Roscommon), C McKeever (Armagh), K McKernan (Down), B Murphy (Carlow), M Murphy (Donegal), K Reilly (Meath), T Walsh (Kerry), E Bolton (Kildare), N McNamee (Offaly).
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