Tuesday 6 December 2016

Ruled out: Ireland's absent superstars

Published 22/10/2011 | 05:00

The Irish International Rules squad's preparations have been overshadowed by a club versus country conflict that, even this weekend as the they begin to depart for Australia, is not full resolved.

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Allied to previous withdrawals through injury, work commitments and expression of non-interest in the international game, it has made for an onerous task for the Irish management as they bid to avoid defeat for the second successive year.

Put simply, this may be the best team the management can put together, but it is certainly not the best in a perfect world.

We examine a potential alternative team that is not on the plane to Australia this weekend.

David Gallagher

(Meath)

Plucked from relative obscurity by Sean Boylan for the series in Australia in 2008, Gallagher's mixture of size and calm authority around the goalmouth proved an inspired choice.

Monaghan's Darren Hughes is likely to fill any goalkeeping vacancy if Stephen Cluxton withdraws after this evening's Dublin quarter-final, but Gallagher has experience, whatever about recent activity.

Michael Shields

(Cork)

A key member of the 2010 squad, but work commitments have taken him out of the equation. A brief spell with Carlton in 2008 gave him some exposure to the tackle, which is always a help. Played particularly well in last year's second Test.

Rory O'Carroll

(Dublin)

Has no previous Rules experience, so he would have been a shot in the dark, but he brings combativeness to Gaelic football and a determination not to be beaten in any game he plays.

Marc O Se

(Kerry)

Hasn't been involved with a Rules squad since 2006, but it's hard to imagine that he couldn't quickly adapt again, even now that he has hit his 30s.

Kevin Nolan

(Dublin)

May have looked at the calendar and figured that Kilmacud Crokes were likely to be at the business end of a Dublin championship.

Last weekend's surprise defeat changed all that and would of course have released him for Rules duty if he had engaged. An international in the future, no doubt.

Graham Canty

(Cork)

Another season of troublesome injuries has probably convinced arguably Ireland's most consistent International Rules performer of the last decade to steer clear of what would have been a fifth trip to Australia.

There were signs of it being a struggle for him in last year's series, but no Irish player understands the game better.

Tomas O Se

(Kerry)

He's well into his 30s and he hasn't, by his own choice, been involved since 2005, but is there another defender you would rather go to war with? O Se is the ultimate competitor.

Paul Flynn

(Dublin)

Has been a dynamic presence across the Dublin half-forward line all season, and his mobility and energy were one of the game plan's key components. Does the simple things well, which suits the Rules game where moving the ball is paramount to both attack and, more importantly, not getting caught in possession.

Sean Cavanagh

(Tyrone)

The 2008 captain in Australia badly damaged his shoulder while training for the series in the gym last August, and is a considerable loss. Corrective surgery has laid him up until next March at the earliest.

Cavanagh was once on the radar of Brisbane Lions and it's no surprise, judging by some of his performances in the Rules series. His powerful running game makes him a neat fit.

Darran O'Sullivan

(Kerry)

Pace and mobility have replaced size as the key assets in the international game; that's why O'Sullivan's withdrawal due to club commitments earlier this week will hurt.

He doesn't have much experience of the game but his ability to find gaps in an Australian defence would have made him an important figure. Mid Kerry's county final appearance called, however.

Martin Clarke

(Down)

The Irish management were hopeful Clarke would make himself available to them. But with business to tie up in Australia -- he has rejoined Collingwood after two years -- Clarke felt the need to absent himself. Was it a club decision or did he take it upon himself? Either way, Ireland are without a player well versed in the finer points of both games who the Aussies would be likely to know and respect.

Paul Galvin

(Kerry)

Galvin has never really made his mark in International Rules, which is a surprise given his combative attributes.

He was one of those involved in the flashpoints that marred the first quarter of the second Test in 2006 and didn't feature in '08 after a three-month suspension. Anthony Tohill hasn't considered him since.

Benny Coulter

(Down)

One of Ireland's most celebrated International Rules players -- with 12 appearances he is the fourth most capped Irish player in the 27-year history of the series.

Against that background, his loss is very significant. He is resting a troublesome hamstring injury to get himself right for Down's 2012 season. His ability to claim a mark under pressure has made him one of the most effective Irish players of his generation in the game and one that will certainly be missed in the coming weeks.

Andy Moran

(Mayo)

The All Star full-forward's energetic game would surely have carried him to the departure lounge this weekend if it hadn't been for a broken leg he sustained last month in preparation for the series.

Bernard Brogan

(Dublin)

Once it became clear that the Dublin championship was going to overlap with the series, Brogan made a firm decision to remove himself from the picture and commit himself entirely to St Oliver Plunkett/Eoghan Ruadh's quest for a long overdue Dublin title.

Brogan's Rules experience is limited, but his pace and power have potential. He scored the goal to revive the flagging Limerick Test last year.

Irish Independent

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