Donaghy believes it's time to fight fire with fire
AUSTRALIA'S professionals may be heading into tomorrow morning's International Rules Test with a steely mindset, but Kieran Donaghy insists that they won't find Ireland taking even the tiniest backward step.
"It's all about having no fear," he said. "No fear that you're facing professional guys who are proud Australians and don't want to be beaten on their own patch in front of 45,000 people and however many more are watching back home on television. Take them on and don't back down. If you do that much, you're in with a shout."
While playing 'away' is generally regarded as a disadvantage in most sports, the opposite is the case in International Rules, probably because the travelling team usually spends longer together than the hosts.
"If the games were in Ireland, we wouldn't be meeting until Thursday. Instead, we've been together all week and got a lot of hard work done," said Donaghy. "That's what you need because you know what you're going to get against Australia. Going around being nice to each other is a waste of time because at the end of the week you're up against some fella who's looking to kill you."
Granted, that's an exaggeration, but it is an illustration of how the Ireland team are preparing for the physical challenge they will face against hardened, professional opposition.
Dealing with the tackle is a key area for Ireland to get right and Donaghy believes they will achieve that. However, there's more involved than being able to make -- and take -- heavy tackles. According to Donaghy, awareness of what's going on around you is equally important.
"You must have your wits about you in this game -- be aware of the tackler and know what's coming your way. Move the ball quickly and you can't be tackled. It frustrates the Australians when they've lined you up for a tackle, but can't do it because you've got rid of the ball quickly," he said.
Ultimately, of course, the game is decided by the scoring capacity of either side, an area where Ireland will have to improve considerably on last year. Donaghy believes that it's all about good shot selection, even under pressure.
"We need to be cool. Don't take on an impossible shot -- bring it in 15 yards where it's going to be certain," he said. "We've talked about it in team meetings -- no speculative efforts, no hero kicks unless you're after kicking a few scores and it's going well. It's demotivating for the team to see kicks going wide."
Ireland scored just 40 points (1-8-10) in last year's first game, the second lowest in Test history (31 points in the chaotic second Test at Croke Park in 2006 was their worst).
It's a return they must increase if they are to give themselves any chance of regaining the Cormac McAnallen Cup.
"There's plenty of scoring power in our attack if we get our game working," said Donaghy. "We know what to do and have worked very hard to make sure it happens."