Sunday 4 December 2016

Ireland will have to go 'back to basics' to dethrone Aussies, says Kernan

Published 21/08/2015 | 02:30

Joe Kernan, International Rules Team Manager
Joe Kernan, International Rules Team Manager

Irish International Rules team manager Joe Kernan has pledged to go "back to basics" as he begins preparations for November's one-off Test against their Australian counterparts in Croke Park.

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The Aussies are in possession of the Cormac McAnallen Trophy following their win over Paul Earley's Irish side in Perth last year after a lightning start laid the groundwork for their victory.

And they return to Dublin on November 21 with Kernan keen to pick a team who can deliver long, accurate kick-passes.

"The basis we are picking our players are on is kicking the ball," Kernan (pictured right) said.

"If you look at Australia their game is based on catch and kick and the possession game so we want to go back to basics. 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. Our game has changed to a certain extent so we will be going back to basics with them."

Irish sides have fallen down in that skill in the past but he is confident his side will be up to speed in time for the Test.

"We have 12 weeks' practice so we are bound to improve and there are some great players there. Jack McCaffrey the last day (against Fermanagh) kicked 50 yards into (Bernard Brogan).

"You can name boys in every county that can do it but it is about getting them back into that way of thinking. That's what we'll be working on.

"Its about winning possession and good passing. I think with movement; and our movement will be important in that we are trying to simplify our game," Kernan added.

"Our game has got a wee bit complicated, we are trying to simplify it that we try and move the ball as quick as possible from A to B, and have movement in our forwards so that we aren't standing static and making it easy for their big men to catch the ball."

Training for the International Rules side will start on the first weekend in September with Kernan expecting to be working with a panel of around 40 at that stage.

Players selected from the four All-Ireland semi-finalists will join a later date. Kernan also confirmed that "two or three" Irish AFL-based players will be considered before he names his final squad.

"It'll be nearly closer to the All-Ireland or after the All-Ireland, we will name a squad of nearly 50 or 40 boys that we have in," explained the Crossmaglen clubman.

"And then we will make the first cut probably in September. Then in the middle to the end of October or the first week of November we'll definitely cut it down to the 30-man squad, which is 23 and seven reserves on standby."

Kernan also revealed that former Armagh star Ronan Clarke is "sitting up and talking" after his collision with a goalpost while playing for his club.

Clarke shipped a heavy blow to the head while in action for Pearse óg and was just a teenager on the Armagh team that Kernan led to All-Ireland glory back in 2002.

"I was talking to his father yesterday and he (Ronan) was sitting up talking, which is great. He's out of danger but he still has a bit to go. Thank God, he's out of danger."

And Kernan agreed it could be time to look at the make-up of goal posts to make them safer.

"There's a lot of the posts that are steel, maybe that can be changed either," he said.

"I'm sure the people who should be looking after it will."

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