For the first time in 10 years, Ireland will have no Australia-based players in their International Rules squad.
Despite the AFL boasting more Irishmen than ever before, manager Joe Kernan yesterday confirmed Brisbane Lions’ Pearce Hanley and Carlton trio Zach Tuohy, Ciarán Sheehan and Ciarán Byrne will not be involved for the November 21 test in Croke Park.
Out of consideration too are Hanley’s younger brother and clubmate Cian, Geelong’s Padraig Lucey, West Coast Eagles’ Paddy Brophy, Sean Hurley (Fremantle), Conor McKenna (Essendon) and Sydney Swans’ new recruit Colin O’Riordan.
Mayo man Hanley, former Cork star Sheehan and Byrne are either currently injured or on the mend while Carlton have blocked Tuohy from participating.
“Zac Tuohy’s club had a bad year and they start their pre-season in the first week of November,” said Kernan. “We asked but they didn’t give permission. There’s nothing we can do about it. We had young Ciarán Byrne from Louth but he’s only back from injury and they (Carlton) said no.
“After being injured for awhile to come in and play a competitive game, they weren’t happy with that and they want him back for pre-season as well.
It’s a pity, we would love to have them but we have plenty of boys who have played it over the last number of years.”
Revealing Mayo’s Lee Keegan as vice-captain to Bernard Brogan, Kernan said a back complaint has ruled Kerry midfielder David Moran out of the reckoning, but Tommy Walsh is to link up with the panel this weekend having recently travelled to Australia for a wedding. Dublin’s Brian Fenton is out with a shoulder injury while former Collingwood man Martin Clarke has a virus. Kernan hopes Diarmuid Connolly might be available but he could be club-tied as St Vincent’s aim to retain the Dublin SFC title on Sunday.
“A player of Diarmuid’s quality would really suit this game because we want to kick the ball and there is no better player in the country at kicking the ball right or left than him and maybe through in a few scores along with that. But he is captain of his club and it’s a big commitment so we’ll know in the next week or so.”
The 2002 All-Ireland winning manager believes a high-scoring match can captivate the Irish public.
“I think people want a good open game that’s going to be competitive and high tempo with a wee bit of physicality.
“Some of the boys are mad to get the tackling going! If it’s a high-tempo game it will be exciting, but if it’s a slow, pedestrian game you can watch Manchester United-Manchester City last Sunday!
“Don’t get me wrong, we’re not looking for a physical battle but we want a competitive game with pressure.
“But nobody can tell me that we can’t kick a ball better than Australia and that we have to work on. How we use the ball when we have it is the most important thing to us.”
Kernan currently has three goalkeepers in training - Rory Beggan, Niall Morgan and Paddy O’Rourke. Beggan is in club action for Scotstown in this weekend’s Ulster quarter-finals along with club-mates Darren and Kieran Hughes as well as Mattie Donnelly.
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