Veteran Hanley fired up for two big matches

WIZARDS IN OZ: Ireland's David Moran, Aidan O'Shea, Aidan Walsh, Colm O'Neill and Niall Morgan arrive in Melbourne for the International Rules series. Picture: Inpho/Cathal Noonan

There are those who reject the concept of International Rules and then there is Finian Hanley.

Along with Colm Begley and Sean Cavanagh, he’s one of the vets. Tomorrow week’s test in Perth will be the fifth season the Galway defender has represented his country, going back to his first in 2008.

He can’t say for certain his experience has been the key to such longetivity. He’s seen others like seasoned Rules players like Ciarán McKeever fail to make it this season and realised it only counts for so much.

“You don’t come up thinking, ‘I’m going to be there this year’. They make it well known, Paul (Earley) and the lads make it well known if you’re slack... I’ve seen lads who have been there the last couple of years that are not there this year, that were training and were at the trials as well. You do have to start from scratch.”

But the catalogue of tests Hanley has in his locker does come in handy. “You skip all the rules because it comes more naturally to you in regards to the way the game is played with the mark and things have stopped and playing on from different situations comes a bit faster. Experience does help in the game. The mind adapts a bit quicker to the way the game is played.”

Hanley and his colleagues have had to get acquainted with a couple of new rules this season, namely all kick-outs going past the 45 metre line and the number of consecutive handpasses being extended to six before the ball must be kicked. Earley isn’t a fan of introducing the former to Gaelic football but his fellow Connacht man takes a different view. “Just to make it more of a spectacle. Gaelic football is being ruined a bit by short kickouts. It’s just taking a bit of emphasis off some of the skills.

“Now, it’s not an old-fashioned thing. A sequence of playing Gaelic football can be short kickout, handpass up the pitch and over the bar. You might as well be at a New York Knicks game sometimes the way it moves.”

With Australia set to flood the middle with giants, Ireland have been working on how to counteract them. “It’s important we do try and retain possession as much as possible but we’ve been working on trying to scrap for the ball and when the ball comes out long, double up,” revealed Hanley.

“Different small things that we’ll be looking to do to make it 60-40 balls on our own kickout.”

Hanley has a bigger match when he returns from Perth on November 24: he marries Pauline the following Thursday in Doonbeg. “I said at the start to Paul it was going to be a busy time for myself and he said: ‘Go away and see what the story is’ so obviously I went back and broke a bit of bread and she said ‘You only get so many chances at doing these things. If it works logistically, go for it’.”

Aussies want to limit test appearances

By John Fogarty

AFL media relations officer Patrick Keane has revealed the lack of appeal among players to commit beyond one or two International Rules tests in an Australia jersey.

The home side will field their strongest panel in years next week but several have admitted it’s likely the last they will play with each other again.

“The experience was that players want to play once or twice but were happy not to play again,” said Keane. “Now we’ve almost gone back full circle again to the absolute best players being the ones who’ll be picked.”

Not only do Australia players not want to play every year, according to Keane they much prefer the one test model, introduced this year.

“Certainly, the feedback from our player group has been that with all of the commitments around what their clubs ask of them it was much easier for them to make a one-and-a-half week commitment out of season than a two-and-a-half or three-week one, which would be the case with two matches.”


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