Joe Kernan goes for height to combat Australia

Young footballer of the year candidate Seán Powter could join Douglas teammate Eoin Cadogan in the Ireland panel to face Australia.

The 20-year-old is on the standby list for the two-test series in Adelaide and Melbourne, which also includes Tyrone’s Mattie Donnelly, Carlow’s Brendan and Seán Murphy, Down duo Connaire Harrison and Caolan Mooney, Niall Grimley of Armagh, and Tyrone star Mattie Donnelly.

Ireland manager Joe Kernan yesterday named 21 of his 23-man panel, the remaining spots being finalised after this weekend’s club matches.

Clare captain Gary Brennan lines out for Clondegad in Sunday’s county final where a victory could mean he is unavailable as the Banner representatives face Dr Crokes or Clonmel Commercials in a Munster club semi-final on November 12, the same day as the first test in Adelaide.

Outgoing Cork captain Paul Kerrigan had been attending International Rules training but Nemo Rangers’ final replay victory at the weekend means he is ruled out due to club commitments — Nemo take on Adare in the other provincial semi-final on November 12. Unlike previous trips to Australia, there are no accommodations being made by the provincial competitions control committee to facilitate players.

Kernan expressed his disappointment at losing out on Kerrigan but fully appreciates his situation.

“A lot of boys, Paul Kerrigan and other boys, come up every weekend even though they were playing with their club on the Sunday,” said Kernan.

“We didn’t ask them to play the three quarters. We only asked them to play in one or two and they were happy to do that.

“A lot of players do make the sacrifice because they want to, but not all of the clubs allow them to go, so that’s where you are…”

Fourteen counties are represented among the 21 players, with Kerry and Mayo both boasting three and Tyrone two — Conor McKenna would have been a third but damaged ankle ligaments in training last weekend.

With only Chris Barrett (5ft 8in), Paul Murphy (5’10”), and Niall Sludden (5’11”) below six foot among the confirmed 21, it is a significantly tall group that Kernan is bringing to Australia.

He explained that decision is based on how the opposition may line out against them under coach Chris Scott.

“Conor Sweeney, I didn’t pick him on his height, it was ability,” said Kernan.

“He did very well. We wanted someone with a left foot in that corner and he played very, very well in training and he’s delighted to be going.

“The rest of the height, they (Australia in 2015 test) dominated at certain times around the middle of the field, but we have six boys there now, take Aidan (O’Shea) and Michael (Murphy), and Kevin Feely who did very well, and then the two boys we have in the middle of the field, so we have six or seven boys that we could throw in the middle of the field to help weather the storm if it’s there.

“Alastair Clarkson the last time, he pushed up high, Chris Scott does the same with Geelong and the fact that Zach Tuohy plays for Geelong would be a bit of a help in knowing how they play. So we need to be winning that battle to get the ball into men that might be free.”

Along with his selectors Dermot Earley, Pádraic Joyce, and Darragh Ó Sé, Kernan’s backroom team includes coach John McCloskey, Ciaran Sloan (strength and conditioning), Dr Kevin Moran, Enda McGinley (physio), and Morgan O’Callaghan (kit-man/runner).


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