Former All-Ireland winning Armagh manager Joe Kernan outlined at yesterday's media launch in Croke Park his plans for this year's International Rules Test against Australia. The contest, sponsored this year by Eirgrid, sees Kernan take over as Ireland manager from Paul Earley.
Once again there will be just one Test, to be played on Saturday evening, November 21st, at 7.0. It will be preceded by the hurling-shinty match between Ireland and Scotland.
Kernan and his management team of
, Darragh Ó Sé and Pádraic Joyce have been monitoring all matches this championship and have already contacted players with a view to starting preparations early next month.
“The four of us have watched every match that has been played this year so far and the basis we are picking our players are on is kicking the ball. If you look at Australia their game is based on catch and kick possession game so we want to go back to basics and I think that’s the way we have to play to beat them.
“They have improved so much on the kicking of the ball. Last year for a while they made it very difficult for us but the Irish players as always rose to the occasion and showed great fight and were unlucky they didn’t win the match. So for 12 weeks we’ll be basing our game on kicking and moving it long and fast.
“We start training on Friday the 4th and Saturday the 5th of September. We left it as long as we could and the fact that it (the international) is back to November is great with club commitments.
“We haven’t spoke to any of the semi-finalists naturally enough they have a bit of business to do yet. We hope to have the rest of the squad, approximately 45 players, in for the first session.”
Ireland lost last year’s Test in Perth, having started very slowly and given themselves too much to do. Kernan said that he had had a very positive response from the players contacted so far.
“There were a couple of boys with injuries that couldn’t commit, maybe work commitments with one boy. That’s part of it. Everybody else is delighted. Some beaten in quarter-finals last weekend, they’re saying ‘that’s great, something to look forward to’. So while they were hurting here a couple of weeks ago in those games, now they’re mad to get back out playing. The honour of representing your country is something special as far as they’re concerned.”