The GAA’s amateur status, the demands of inter-county and club commitments mean Ireland will never be able to present its best team in the International Rules, according to Dublin star James McCarthy.
The PwC footballer of the month for September has had to turn down an invitation from Joe Kernan to be part of the extended panel before next month’s two tests in Adelaide and Perth.
McCarthy, who lines out with Ballymun Kickhams against Kilmacud Crokes in tomorrow evening’s Dublin SFC semi-final, hopes he is playing with the club into November, but his work with AIB means he won’t be able to take the time off to fly to Oz, anyway.
Ireland depart on November 5 and return 17 days later.
The 27-year-old, who indicated Brian Fenton finds himself in the same predicament, remarked: “You’re taking the odd Friday off work, an annual leave day. They add up going into matches and then you’re trying to keep your few days for your trips away with your partner or with your team.
“You’ve got such a long season, committing to all the hard training and so on…
“Ireland will never put their strongest team forward, I don’t think they ever have put their strongest side out. It’s just the nature of it, unfortunately.
“You’d give them a good rattle… well of course we’ve won the last couple of games in the last few years, but I don’t think they’ve had their strongest sides either.
You’d love to have the best against the best and see how it goes.”
McCarthy was part of Paul Earley’s Ireland panel that lost the one-test series in Perth three years ago but was carrying an injury.”
He admits he’s slightly conflicted about his former manager Pat Gilroy’s appointment as senior hurling manager. As much as he wants the hurlers to do well, he doesn’t want it to be at the expense of the footballers in terms of personnel.
Mark Schutte could switch back to hurling and the rumours of Diarmuid Connolly changing codes to join his St Vincent’s club-mate Gilroy aren’t going away.
“We’re obviously on a crest of a wave and we want to keep going the way we are. I’d love to see the hurlers do well, but try and stay away from our group if you can,” he said, laughing.
“They seemed to be disjointed the last year or two, but if they come back together and they have plenty of young hurlers coming up who are very good... if they get that group together again they’ll be a very good side.”
McCarthy knows just how good a manager the hurlers will have.
“He gets you wanting to play for him. That’s probably the best compliment [I could pay him]. If you have a manager and you want to play for him that’s half the battle. He wouldn’t pull you out after 20 minutes, he’d let you find your feet and let you fight your own battle, which is what you want, really. I remember the first game I played against Kerry down there marking [Paul] Galvin and I was getting the runaround in the first half (2010 league game). He didn’t pull me out, he made me play the full 70 minutes, where you’d nearly ask to be taken off, but he made you stay in there and you’d learn a lot from that.”
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