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Joe Kernan Confirms Three AFL Players Will Be In Ireland International Rules Squad

Joe Kernan Confirms Three AFL Players Will Be In Ireland International Rules Squad
PJ Browne
By PJ Browne
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Joe Kernan will take a 23-man squad to Australia in November for a two-game International Rules series against Australia.

Three names in Kernan's squad are already nailed down. Those three play their football in Australia: Laois and Geelong's Zach Tuohy; Tyrone and Essendon's Conor McKenna; Mayo and the Gold Coast Suns' Pearce Hanley will be the three AFL players in the Irish squad.

Speaking at the announcement of EirGrid as the Irish team sponsor, Kernan said other Irish AFL players wanted to be involved but that it was hard to look past the trio he's selected.

We only have 12 of the boys out there that are playing but it was hard to bypass these three guys who played 21, 17 and 15 matches, and were probably three of the best out there.

Zach Tuohy, I know from reports will probably be in the running for player of the year. Now they [Geelong] were beaten last weekend but he's had a fantastic season.

Him and Pearce changed clubs, which Irish lads normally don't do that but it was for the better of themselves and they both played very well.

Conor just oozes excitement and the joy of the game, great skill levels. Pace, power and accuracy would be the three things we're looking for players.

Kernan joked that he's hoping to get some inside knowledge from Tuohy about Chris Scott. The Aussie manager works with Tuohy at Geelong. It's not the only knowledge which he believes the Irish AFL players will bring.

Looking back on the game two years ago it was an eye-opener for me playing four quarters. You try and keep a high tempo in each one of them and there's sometimes you drop tempo and it's about keeping your shape.

We didn't have an outlet for the ball and to have those boys [Tuohy, Hanley, McKenna] there and to be able to talk us through things the way they do it. The one thing the Aussies destroyed us on the last time, when they made the mark, they were able to put two punt passes together and get themselves to the D. We were lucky enough then they weren't able to score too many of them. But if we can do the same, it'll make our game a lot easier.


The 20 Irish-based players will be whittled down from a list of around 55. The first trials took place in Abbottstown at the weekend, 26 players turned up. That will increase to 36 this weekend.

One player who will not be involved is Lee Keegan. The Mayo man was Ireland vice-captain two years ago. He has picked up an injury, the nature of which Kernan was unwilling to specify.

Trials clashing with club fixtures has been a problem. Though Kernan is willing to work with players, he also sees a need to put his foot down.


Some of the boys played last weekend with club matches, next week we're having to step it up and say, 'Hey boys if you've a club match on a Sunday, you still have to be there on a Friday night, you'll only play one quarter'.

We have to work with each other but if they don't turn up, they can't expect to have a chance to impress.

Conor McKenna is one of the Australian-based players who will be available to train in Ireland. He's been home since earlier this month - there's a chance that Pearce Hanley will be home too. With a baby just arrived, Zach Tuohy will be unable to link up with the squad until they get to Australia.


Joe Kernan expects to name the Ireland squad in three weeks for the games which take place in Adelaide on November 12th and then in Perth on November 18th.

In attendance at the announcement of EirGrid as team sponsor for the International Rules side that will travel to Australia over the two-test series in November are Ireland International Rules manager Joe Kernan and player Conor McKenna. EirGrid is a state-owned company that operates the national grid in Ireland. EirGrid’s task is to deliver a safe, secure and reliable supply of electricity now, and in the future. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile



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