Defiant Kernan predicts remarkable series turnaround
Despite facing a 10-point deficit going into the second International Rules Test in Perth tomorrow, Ireland manager Joe Kernan has predicted the biggest turnaround in the history of two-game series.
"I was never more positive in my life. We have reinforced the squad, the lads who were sick are getting better, training has gone very well this week, we know how to correct what went wrong last Sunday, positivity is at 100 per cent," he said.
The arrival in the camp of Monaghan's Darren Hughes and Cork's Melbourne-based All-Ireland medal winner Ciaran Sheehan have increased Kernan's options.
Hughes flew in to replace Pearce Hanley, who injured his hand in the first Test, while Sheehan, who was recently released by AFL club Carlton, was drafted in because of doubts over Enda Smith (Roscommon) and Niall Murphy (Sligo).
Both missed the first Test due to illness but are back in training.
Kernan will decide today on the 23 players who will make up the match-day squad.
Neither Ireland nor Australia have come back from such a big deficit in the second Test but Kernan is convinced his squad are poised to achieve the big turnaround.
However, it's vital that they get off to a good start and prevent the Australians from extending their lead.
"These boys (Aussies) will want to put our lights out early on and finish it. They don't want it coming down to the last quarter," said Kernan.
Ireland did well in the first, second and fourth quarters last Sunday but lost the third quarter 22-8, a slump which leaves them with a massive task.
"The first Test is over, we've learned from it and will use the lessons well.
"Ten points might seem like a big lead, but not in this game where a goal is six points and an 'over' (a point in Gaelic football terms) is three points," he said.
An All-Ireland medal-winning manager with Armagh and Crossmaglen Rangers, Kernan has experienced lots of great occasions and sees his International Rules role as comparable with any of them.
"This is probably one of the best things I've done in my life," he said.
Throw-in at the Subiaco Oval is at 8.45am Irish time tomorrow.