Joe Kernan calls for dialogue between referees and players

Ireland manager Joe Kernan believes more dialogue between county teams and referees should be encouraged.

Today Kernan has the opportunity to discuss last Sunday’s first Test with referees Maurice Deegan and Matt Stavic ahead of tomorrow’s second and deciding game at the Subiaco Oval.

It’s an initiative he feels that is healthy and should be introduced in inter-county Gaelic football.

“I think that’s important and it’s something we’d be saying afterwards: That referees and players should meet. It takes out the ‘us and them’ if you can talk sensibly to someone before and afterwards. We all want to fight our corner but if there’s a middle ground we should all take that opportunity. But if you can’t discuss something with somebody, it’s very hard to ask a civil question on the field and not get a civil answer.”

Killian Clarke was left slightly bemused by AFL official Slavic’s interpretation of the tackle but Kernan is pleased to be able to speak to the Australian and Laois native Deegan.

“We’ll be showing a few clips from the video of what was right and what was wrong. Two years ago, we scored a goal and they gave us a penalty. The advantage was that the goal stood and we could have missed the penalty but we asked them here and they said, no — that was their mistake. So I hope they make the mistakes the right way!”

Kernan regrets not measuring the pitch surface in the Adelaide Oval last weekend, which appeared extremely tight for International Rules.

The sizes have ranged from 145m by 90m to 130m by 80m. In 2010, Ireland reduced the surface for the second test in Croke Park to the same 130m by 80m as that for the first Test in Limerick’s Gaelic Grounds.

The Armagh man sensed the width of the field was smaller than it should have been.

“I’m sorry we didn’t get the measurements but we’ll certainly be measuring it tomorrow evening when we go out to the stadium. Whatever the rules say they (dimensions) are, it’s up to both groups to check and see that the rules are being followed. If it was okay so be it but I just got a feeling it looked a bit narrow.”

Nevertheless, Kernan is in high spirits ahead of a game he knows Ireland must win by 10 points or more to retain the Cormac McAnallen Cup. After last week’s difficulties with sickness and heat, he exudes confidence about Ireland’s chances going into this clash.

“I was never more positive in my life. The fact we have reinforced the squad (with Darren Hughes and Ciarán Sheehan), the fact the sick boys are getting better is a great boost. The training sessions went well. The positivity is 100%.

“People don’t realise how important this is to the players and us as management. This is probably one of the best things I’ve done in my life. That some people for some reason want to knock it is strange. It isn’t perfect or exactly the way we want it to be but it’s some thrill for everybody involved.

“Can we make it better? Of course, we can. The fact that they are talking about America hosting a game will help. Any team I’ve been involved with, try to play attacking, skilful football. And we’re going to do that again on Saturday, even though we’re 10 points down.”

Niall Murphy and Enda Smith are training but are continuing to be monitored.

Gary Brennan is closer to full fitness than he was last week.

“You’ll see a different Gary this Saturday,” declared Kernan. It means Aidan O’Shea may be able to push into the full-forward line at times. Kernan knows Ireland’s start is important as the Australians will look to build on their advantage.

“These boys will want to put our lights out early on and finish it. They don’t do it coming down to the last quarter. We need those who are fit and able to stand up to the challenge. We’re giving the two lads (Murphy and Smith) as much time as we can to see if they are okay. They’re getting stronger.

“We’re going man to man this week — we’re meeting it head-on. We’re going to fight for every ball. Their cuteness and blocking people making a run showed up very evidently in video and we’ll be trying to make sure that none of us gets blocked and that we compete for every ball.”



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