Wednesday 24 May 2017

Lacey travels 10,692 miles to be part of International Rules squad and he may not even kick a ball

Donegal star Karl Lacey in action during training ahead of Ireland's first International Rules match against Australia in Melbourne tomorrow in which he is unlikely to feature
Donegal star Karl Lacey in action during training ahead of Ireland's first International Rules match against Australia in Melbourne tomorrow in which he is unlikely to feature
Ireland players Ciaran McKeever, Neil McGee, Aidan Walsh, Zach Touhy, Leighton Glynn and Kevin McKernan line up during training ahead of their first International Rules match against Australia in Melbourne tomorrow

Martin Breheny , in Melbourne

DONEGAL'S All Star centre-back Karl Lacey won't take any part in the International Rules series unless one of his colleagues is ruled out over the next eight days.

With club championships causing uncertainty over the final group who would fly to Australia last weekend, Lacey was drafted into the squad. He travelled to Melbourne on Saturday but won't now be required as a full complement of 23 made the trip.

He will, however, be on standby in the event of anybody picking up an injury, and since he has been working with the squad all week, he could slot in quite easily. Lacey has one previous international cap.

Ireland will today complete preparations for the first Test against Australia tomorrow morning (9.45 Irish time), having put in a productive week on the training ground.

Meath's Kevin Reilly missed yesterday's session as a precautionary measure after sustaining a minor ankle injury, but is expected to be fit.

Despite losing both Tests in Limerick and Croke Park last year, Ireland have been installed as favourites (8/11) to beat Australia (11/10) tomorrow, prior to heading to Gold Coast for the second Test a week later.

Ireland's rating as favourites is down to the impressive record by travelling teams over the 27-year history of the series, plus the fact that only four of the Australian panel have played International Rules before, compared to 15 (of 23) for Ireland.

However, experience hasn't always counted for much in the past and, based on the evidence of their warm-up game against a local selection on Tuesday, the Australians are adapting well to the composite game.

"They have a really mobile team. These guys will run all day -- that's where we'll have to match them," said Kieran Donaghy, who will pick up his fourth cap tomorrow.

David Coldrick (Meath) and Australia's Ray Chamberlain will be joint referees for a game which will be played under the closed roof at the Etihad Stadium. It will be shown live on TG4.

Irish Independent

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