Boylan puts faith in Rules rookies

 

GAA INTERNATIONAL RULES NEWS:IRELAND MANAGER Seán Boylan yesterday unveiled at Croke Park the 27 players he will be bringing to Australia for the International Rules series later this month.

He was speaking at a media briefing to launch the team, sponsored by Coca-Cola, and explain the selection.

It's the least experienced panel chosen since the series resumed 10 years ago with 17 newcomers and just 10 with previous experience - exactly the reverse of the proportions when Ireland last travelled to Australia three years ago.

Not all players were available to play in the series because of injury and personal reasons. Among them are Dublin's Alan Brogan, Declan O'Sullivan of Kerry as well as Irish AFL players Tadhg Kennelly, who will nonetheless be available to assist, Martin Clarke, Setanta Ó hAilpín, Pearse Hanley, Brendan Murphy and Kevin Dyas. Only Colm Begley of the AFL players is listed in the squad.

Some home-based players will have a delayed departure because of club commitments in county championships, something that is also threatening the prospect of a practice match, the lack of which was sorely felt by Ireland three years ago, as the whole panel needs to be together early in the week if a warm-up fixture is to be arranged.

"We have to see how the club championships work out," said Boylan. "If we have the players we will play with them but I'd like to hold fire on that for a while."

The county breakdown sees All-Ireland finalists Tyrone and Kerry leading the pack with four players each. Other representations are Armagh and Cork (3), Galway, Dublin and Meath (2) with Laois, Down, Wicklow, Westmeath, Wexford, Mayo and Derry having one player each.

Captain Seán Cavanagh, who was also in attendance yesterday, wasn't concerned by the influx of rookies.

"I wouldn't read too much into the whole experience thing. Whenever this game is played right, whenever we play it right, it's probably as close to Gaelic football as we can make it. The guys that have come in that haven't played in previous years have probably had more a lot more exposure to the tackle. I'm even still learning things about the tackle."

Former Ireland, Toulouse and Leinster rugby player Trevor Brennan has been assisting in the coaching of the tackle, and former Ireland fitness coach Mike McGurn has also been involved.

The task before Ireland is stark: rescue the international project, which was suspended last year because of the indiscipline of the 2006 second Test, and which has been one-way traffic during the past two series with Australia dominant.

The GAA and AFL came up with a number of disciplinary reforms as a precondition for relaunching the series.

"The disciplinary side is very clear," said association president Nickey Brennan. "The AFL's disciplinary code is extremely harsh and they will be imposing Grand Final penalties for anything that happens. And Central Council endorsed last weekend that our players will be suspended in the National Football League if they misbehave."

Cavanagh was optimistic the new regulations and other provisions would take care of the problems caused by indiscipline and violence in the 2005 and '06 series.

"Hopefully with the new video ref in from South Africa and the Australians more or less committing to go out and play football. Hopefully that will tidy up the series because when it's played well it's probably one of the most enjoyable games to play."

The captain took issue with the suggestion that Ireland had been badly beaten in 2006, pointing out that the first Test in Galway had been won even if Australia had won the infamous second Test in Croke Park.

"The Test in Croke Park didn't go well for a number of reasons. We'd only one inter-change player left by the end and that's what the Australians are good at, running us into the ground. They beat us comprehensively but I'd be confident that we can compete with them physically as well as from the football aspect.

"Many people overemphasise the whole physical aspect because Ireland were losing but Australia had some very good football players in '05 and '06. If Peter Canavan had been kicking some of those points that the Australian were kicking they would have been points of the year here."

According to Brennan, the series will take place in Ireland next year but beyond that there are as yet no arrangements to extend it.

INTERNATIONAL RULES SQUAD:Seán Cavanagh (Tyrone, capt), Graham Canty (Cork, vice captain), David Gallagher (Meath), Colm Begley (Laois), Paddy Bradley (Derry), Bernard Brogan (Dublin), Benny Coulter (Down), Bryan Cullen (Dublin), Kieran Donaghy (Kerry), Leighton Glynn (Wicklow), Finian Hanley (Galway), John Keane (Westmeath), Aaron Kernan (Armagh), Ciarán Lyng (Wexford), Steven McDonnell (Armagh), Enda McGinley (Tyrone), Ciarán McKeever (Armagh), Joe McMahon (Tyrone), Justin McMahon (Tyrone), Michael Meehan (Galway), John Miskella (Cork), Aidan O'Mahony (Kerry), Pearse O'Neill (Cork), Tom Parsons (Mayo), Kevin Reilly (Meath), Tommy Walsh (Kerry), Killian Young (Kerry).

MEYLER LET GO BY WEXFORD BOARD

WEXFORD'S SENIOR hurling manager John Meyler has been abruptly let go by the county board. A terse statement from the board yesterday evening announced that the manager's name would not be going forward for the position next year, writes Seán Moran

Meyler, who was not available for comment last night, met the county chair Ger Doyle, who informed him that after meeting some of the players on Monday night the decision had been made to seek new management.

The news comes as a major shock, as there had been no suggestion that the team management, who had an option of a third year, was not going to continue in charge.