The City of Brotherly Love could soon be on the agenda for the International Rules as Philadelphia have been earmarked as a potential venue for a test match.
The AFL have been eager to take the concept to foreign shores and while the GAA are open to the idea, they have let the Australians do all the running in that regard.
Finding a stadium with a sufficiently-sized playing surface in the US has been difficult but GAA director general Páraic Duffy revealed the Pennsylvanian city might be able to accommodate a game between the countries.
The matter was discussed at a GAA-AFL dinner in Adelaide last Friday night.
“The one thing that was absolutely clear was that they want this to continue,” Duffy revealed.
“No question about that. It might have been a question seven or eight years ago but not anymore. Their players have bought into it.
“They’re very happy that it’s the All-Australians and they want it to continue so there’s no question of it not going ahead.
“Gillon’s (McLachlan, AFL chief executive) attitude has made that very clear. They feel they’ve cracked the issue of players and who plays. The fact that it’s All-Australian now and that the elite players are selected means they’re very happy with that.
“They’re very keen on going to the States so we’re going to push hard on that and see if it’s possible. The whole issue has been getting a venue in the US because of the size of American football pitches but there are a couple of things we’re going to explore and we said that we’d try and tie this down before February.
“One of the possibilities is Philadelphia where there appears there might be a venue. The University of Pennsylvania — Franklin Field — is being suggested and I’m actually going to be in Philadelphia the week after next so I’ll take a look.”
Ireland, though, are due to host a two-test series and the newly-developed Páirc Uí Chaoimh would be regarded as a strong contender to host the first of those, possibly next year, and Croke Park the venue for the deciding test.
On the matter of no Dublin players being involved this year, Duffy pointed out there was a similar situation involving the AFL. “I don’t think it’s a harder sell and I don’t want to comment on the Dublin players but there are no Richmond players either on the Australia team. The main reason we’re short of some players is because of club fixtures. That’s been the biggest issue and we have to accept that. The timing isn’t ideal for either of us but it works fairly well and I think the enthusiasm is still there among our players.”
Opposition to International Rules has strengthened in Ireland with former Kerry star Marc Ó Sé, brother of current selector Darragh, lambasting the initiative as “a bastardisation”.
Notwithstanding pundits, Duffy hasn’t experienced much negativity with the organisation.
“I’ve heard nobody within the GAA saying, ‘let’s scrap this’. There was some concern a number of years ago about the player talent drain to Australia until people realised you lose a couple of players and that’s it. That’s going to happen anyway and people realise that there’s no relationship between the series and people going to play in Australia.
“You’re not losing players who play in the series so that’s not an issue anymore. I think people at home accept the reason why it’s good for our players — a chance to wear the Ireland jersey. I think we will reach agreement for a longer term. There’ll be no problem with that.”
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