All-Ireland football champions Dublin will be strongly represented on the Ireland team which takes on Australia in next month's one-Test series – although goalkeeper Stephen Cluxton has opted out.
Cluxton has considerable experience in the compromise game, captaining the Ireland team for the 2011 series. However Ireland manager Joe Kernan – still in the process of trialling for his 29-man panel ahead of the November 21st game – has indicated that Cluxton wasn't in a position to commit, and is currently looking at three goalkeeping possibilities instead.
Bernard Brogan will captain the Ireland team, and fellow All-Ireland winner Jack McCaffrey has also made himself available. Kernan is awaiting the outcome of this Sunday's Dublin football final between St Vincent's and Ballyboden St Enda's to get a clearer indication of whether Diarmuid Connolly and Michael Darragh Macauley will be available too
“I spoke to Diarmuid a few weeks ago and he is captain of his club which is very important,” says Kernan. “Their club is number one but they also want to play for their country so I haven’t ruled them out.
“A player of Diarmuid’s quality would really suit this game because we want to kick the ball, and there is no better player in the country at kicking the ball right or left than him. And maybe throw in a few scores along with that. But he is captain of his club, it’s a big commitment, so we won’t know for another week or so.”
For Kernan, the former All-Ireland-winning manager with Armagh, the Ireland goalkeeping position is between Paddy O'Rourke (Meath), Rory Beggan (Monaghan), and Niall Morgan (Tyrone): "All very safe hands, good stoppers, and good kickers off the ball, said Kernan. The three of them have done well. We just haven't decided yet. The next two or three weeks will decide that.
“But we’re happy enough with our preparations. We’re on our eighth or ninth week, and last week we were in Croke Park for the first time, which leaves us three more weeks to prepare on the pitch.”
Last year's Ireland captain Michael Murphy from Donegal has been ruled out through injury, along with the likes of David Moran (Kerry), Brian Fenton (Dublin), Seán Cavanagh (Tyrone), plus some of the AFL-based players, such as Zach Tuohy from Laois and Ciarán Byrne from Louth.
Yet Kernan is happy with the pool of players he has to pick from, heaping particular praise on Brogan, his new captain (with Mayo's Lee Keegan named vice-captain): "You want a leader. You want someone that is respected, you want someone that is playing well, and Bernard ticks all those boxes. He has ticked a lot of boxes in his career and this is a nice one to add to his list. But that main reason was he has been playing well"