Joe Kernan fits bill as Ireland’s new International Rules manager

Former Armagh boss set to oversee November Test against Australians

If the first requirement was availability and the second was experience then Joe Kernan certainly satisfied both counts when approached to take over as the new Irish manager for the International Rules series against Australia.

For Kernan – whose appointment is expected to be formally announced at Croke Park later today – the position may not carry the same gravitas as his previous managerial positions, especially with his native Armagh, although it does fit in neatly with his already impressive CV.

Two-year appointment

The two-year appointment, which will begin with another single-Test match against the Australians at Croke Park in November, will also see Kernan joined by former Kerry footballer Darragh Ó Sé as one of his four selectors.

Ó Sé recently stepped down from his position as Kerry under-21 football manager, his decision to row in with Kernan another sign of his ambitions along the sideline.

Kernan has been out of intercounty management since his one-year term with Galway ended in disappointing circumstances (defeat to Wexford) in the summer of 2010. Before that, however, Kernan earned his considerable stripes with his club, Crossmaglen Rangers, and then with Armagh – guiding his county to their first ever All-Ireland senior football title in 2002, defeating Kerry in the final, in what was his first season in charge. Before that he also guided Crossmaglen to three All-Ireland club titles – in 1997, 1999, and 2000.

The appointment of Irish managers has traditionally fallen under the remit of the GAA president, the newly appointed Aogán Ó Fearghail thus making the call on this one. As a Cavan man, Ó Fearghail was always likely to opt for an Ulster representative.

Kernan will take over from Roscommon's Paul Earley, who experienced two very contrasting results during his two-year term. Last November, Earley's Irish team lost to Australia by 10 points in the single-Test series in Perth, while in 2013, against a team made up of indigenous AFL players, Ireland won the two-Test series by 101 points.

Despite some uncertainty about the future of the series, earlier this month the GAA confirmed that agreement had been reached with the AFL to continue with the one-Test series for 2015 – the game set for Croke Park on November 21st. Whereas last year the Australia side was made up from current All-Australians, it was also agreed this year their coaching panel will be able to pick All-Australians from previous years.

“The success of last year’s one-Test series has prompted us to continue with this format for 2015,” said GAA director general Páraic Duffy, “with a view to re-igniting interest in the cross-code game in Ireland.”

Popularity

AFL chief executive Gillon McClachlan added: “Those players who may not be able to join us post-season will only be replaced by someone who has earned All-Australian selection through his AFL career as we remain determined to ensure the prestige and popularity of the International Rules Series.”

Meanwhile Tipperary footballer Colin O'Riordan has escaped any serious injury after being stretchered off in Sunday's Allianz Football League victory over Sligo at Semple Stadium. However, the 19-year-old is suffering from a concussion, and is therefore a major doubt for Tipperary's upcoming Munster under-21 football final against Cork on Thursday week, April 9th, also at Semple Stadium.