Sunday 22 October 2017

GAA fear Rules series will not be viable

Tadhg Kennelly will be coaching assistant for touring team
Tadhg Kennelly will be coaching assistant for touring team
Cliona Foley

Cliona Foley

FEARS about the future of the International Rules series have increased again after Australia, as expected, confirmed their decision to send an exclusively indigenous team to represent them this season.

The GAA have "expressed concerns" to the AFL as their team of largely lesser-known players may not attract the necessary crowds to Kingspan Breffni Park (October 19) and Croke Park (October 26) to make the series viable. It will be only the second time that an all-indigenous team will represent Australia in a sporting fixture after a cricket team that toured England in 1868.

"We can recognise the historical significance of it but we would have expressed concerns to the AFL of the possible impact of limiting the squad to one group of players," the GAA's director of games administration and player welfare, Feargal McGill, admitted.

"The International Rules has been about putting out the best Irish players against the best Australian players, and this is a bit of a departure.

"Notwithstanding that, we accept Australia will be represented by a strong team and there is plenty to suggest they will be stronger than their team on the last occasion (2011)."

Former Premiership and All-Ireland winner Tadhg Kennelly will be a coaching assistant for the touring team, who will be known as 'The Indigenous All Stars'. Ireland's team will be managed by Paul Earley and his back room includes Ciaran Whelan, Tony Scullion and Seamus McCarthy.

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