Catching and kicking top the agenda for International Rules hopefuls
Keep fitness levels up, work on your skills and wait for the call; that's the message from International Rules manager Joe Kernan to any footballers hoping to make the Irish squad for the two-game series in Australia in November.
He plans to begin squad sessions at the end of August, but will have to wait until late September to add players from the All-Ireland finalists to the list of possibles.
"We will be bringing in around 40 players at the end of the month. We'll be working in Abbottstown, which is a great facility, on Friday nights and Saturdays and obviously we want to give as many players as possible a chance," said Kernan, who led Armagh to their first All-Ireland title in 2002.
"The important thing is that they keep their fitness levels up now. We can't monitor them until they come in so it's up to players with ambitions of making the squad to ensure that they are in the best shape possible. Otherwise, they will have no chance."
Kernan wants at least 40 players at the sessions - initially at least - so that he can work with two full squads.
He is also advising players to work on catching and kicking, two vital ingredients in the mixed rules game.
"We based our approach on those the last time and will be doing the same again, so the better players are with their catching and kicking, the better their chances of being selected," said Kernan, who led Ireland to victory (56-52) in Croke Park two years ago.
Kernan and his selectors, Padraic Joyce, Darragh Ó Sé and Dermot Earley have been monitoring players throughout the year and will shortly complete the initial list.
"We started during the league and moved it on during the championship, so we have a fair idea of who we want. Obviously some new recruits will be coming on board this year after looking as if they have the right qualities for what we have in mind.
"We learned a lot two years ago, but we'll have to be even better this time as the Australians will be at home."
After one-off games in Croke Park in 2015 and in Perth a year earlier, the series returns to two tests this year, with Adelaide and Perth as the venues.
"It's good that the series is going back to two games. We would have loved another game two years ago and since we were ahead, I'm sure the Australians would have fancied it too.
"As well as that, when we're travelling so far, two games make sense."