Murphy ticks first box, as Earley prepares to name panel for international series
Donegal captain to lead Ireland but a number of other top players are unavailable
Donegal’s Michael Murphy who will captain Ireland against Australia later this month. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho
Ireland manager Paul Earley yesterday confirmed Donegal’s Michael Murphy as captain for this year’s international rules series, which starts tomorrow fortnight. He was speaking at the series launch in Cavan’s Kingspan Breffni Park, venue for the first Test.
Murphy, who also captained his county to last year’s All-Ireland, has been an exceptional performer in the past two international series in 2010 and two years ago.
Earley, who said that he will name his panel for the two Tests at the beginning of next week, gave some indications of how the process was progressing.
He has already lost a number of players from All-Ireland champions with captain Stephen Cluxton, who led Ireland in Australia two years ago, declaring himself unavailable, and Cian O’Sullivan, Michael Darragh Macauley and Bernard Brogan all carrying injuries out of the championship.
None the less Paul Flynn, Ciarán Kilkenny and James McCarthy are involved in the provisional training panel as are Colm Boyle, Lee Keegan, Aidan O’Shea and Kevin McLoughlin from All-Ireland finalists Mayo.
There are no Kerry players involved however, as Colm Cooper declined an invitation because of his club commitments with county champions Dr Crokes.
Asked was he disappointed with the response, Earley said: “Not disappointed. When I see some of the players who are with us who have overuse injuries over the year I know how difficult it is and we’re trying to manage those as well as we can also.”
He expanded on the choice of Murphy for the captaincy: “The obvious things, his temperament is clear, he was man of the match in last year’s All-Ireland final and that shows his ability to take on the mantle of captaincy and also perform at the highest level. He has a maturity beyond his years; he has played the game before so he has that experience which is important.
“He has been involved in two series, one a winning series, the other a losing one, he has that experience that he can bring to the group and to the management. His commitment has been first class, he is living in Donegal; he has his club commitments as well. He is an inspiration to everyone.”
Asked about The AFL decision to send a team wholly comprised of indigenous Australians, Earley said that selection was purely a matter for the visitors.
“Look that’s a decision they’ve made. I went on the record earlier on in the season to say you always want to put your best team out and play against the best that Australia can offer. They’ve made a decision to send an indigenous team this year. That’s their decision. I think it’ll be very strong interestingly enough. They’re in the middle of a training camp this week.
“I understand they’re picking a final squad in the next couple of days. If the top players like Lance Franklin, who won a Premiership last weekend who has just signed a $10 million contract with Sydney the other day over I think the next nine years, if he comes he’s the highest paid player in Australia – the top player in Australia.
“If (Adam) Goodes comes that’ll be two of the top four or five players in Australia and they’ll be pretty strong. They have this togetherness.
“That group of players came together for a week and a half in the early part of the season to play an indigenous game against Richmond so they came together for whatever it is, 10 days, to create that kind of team bond. They have a strong team unity about them and they’ll be very, very well prepared.”
Murphy said that he felt the revised rules of the series had made it a more attractive game.
“I think maybe the review of the rules over the last number of years – some people might have liked the physicality of the game previously but I think myself that the review has shifted the balance strongly to a more skilled game with a huge emphasis on the rules of fist passing and kick passing, something I suppose that’s missing in the GAA.”
This year’s series will be played in Kingspan Breffni Park in Cavan on October 19th and the second Test in Croke Park a week later on October 26th.