Kernan's order for Rules tactics reboot
Published 01/04/2015 | 02:30
Ireland's latest International Rules manager Joe Kernan refuses to accept that Australians can kick a round ball better than Gaelic footballers and hopes his team will prove that in November's stand-alone Test.
Kernan intends to prioritise the boot to win back the series, which was given the kiss of life in Australia last November by such a competitive Test in Perth.
One of the features of the Australian win was the quality of their kicking, especially in the first two quarters, by stark contrast to the visitors.
"If someone told me that an Australian could kick a Gaelic ball, a round ball, better than us I wouldn't believe them," said Kernan at the announcement of his appointment in Croke Park yesterday.
Kernan said Ireland simply had to maximise the natural ability to kick to have any chance against an Australian aside that the AFL have promised will be laden with their best players.
"I don't know what way some of the boys are training now - but you have got to kick the ball every night you go training, it's as important as running," he said.
"If we get in to a head-to-head where we are trying to out-catch these boys, we are in trouble.
"We have to play to our strengths. Our strengths should be kicking the ball and our handling, then our tackling and playing the game with intensity and playing the game with speed.
"Maybe over these last few years, we're not kicking the ball as long as we could.
"I can only say what I did in management myself. We did kick the ball and that's what we'll try and get back to. We have time to do that. It's only a matter of refreshing it.
"It is like riding a bike. You don't forget but sometimes you have to get up and practise it enough.
"Maybe teams aren't practising it enough here at the minute but that is one thing we are going to be working on big time.
"We are going to play the game to suit us, not to suit them. We will look at all their strengths but we will certainly work on our strengths and we hope one of our strengths is going to be kicking the ball long."
Kernan acknowledges it will be a challenge because so many inter-county teams are not playing the way he intends to play. "What we're trying to do is simplify the game and we've become very technical in certain ways," he said.
He admitted it had been a privately held ambition to complete the set of managerial roles that have taken him from club to county to province and now country.
"To think that you're going to lead an Irish team out in Croke Park is unbelievable. As Aogan (O Fearghail) said, I managed my club, my county and province, there was one job left. You wondered would you get it, so I'm delighted."
Kernan will have three iconic Gaelic footballers of the last two decades to assist him, Kerry's Darragh O Se, Galway's Padraic Joyce and Kildare's Dermot Earley. Joyce was previously a selector under Sean Boylan in 2006.
The 2002 All-Ireland winning manager is satisfied with the one-Test format.
"To me as a manager, you have one chance to get this right. We have got to be ready and that is up to us as management over the next few months," he said.
Kernan says it will be difficult for someone like Aidan Walsh - who has opted out of Cork football this season in order to commit to hurling only - to make the squad this time, despite being such an influential Rules player in recent years.
"We won't close the door on anybody. We will look at anybody we think we can get. But, in fairness, if Aidan isn't playing football it's very hard to come back."