Tuesday 19 November 2019

O'Neill confirms International Rules trip Down Under for October

Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael Liam Ó Néill
Uachtarán Chumann Lúthchleas Gael Liam Ó Néill
Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

GAA president Liam O'Neill has confirmed that the International Rules series will take place later this year.

The GAA and the AFL are in the process of hammering out the details of what is expected to be a two-Test series next October with the Australians tipped to scrap the 'indigenous only' side that pitched up here last year.

Paul Earley's men were comfortable winners of both games in Croke Park and Cavan, a result that came on the back of Ireland's record win Down Under in 2011.

Interest has waned in both countries, but the series is set to be continued this year. The process has been delayed somewhat as the AFL continue their search for a successor to CEO Andrew Demetrio.

However, the early indications are that the Australians will field a much stronger team this time around in a bid to reignite the series which enjoyed massive popularity in the middle of the last decade.

"We're very near; we've had contact from them and we're very near to confirming arrangements with them," O'Neill said.

"There will be a tournament or an event in Australia involving our players and involving their players."

O'Neill also refused to get involved in a war of words with former Irish marathon runner Jerry Kiernan after his most recent remarks about the GAA.

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Kiernan claimed the GAA shouldn't be in receipt of any government money, but O'Neill would not be drawn on the subject and insisted the association's relationship with other sporting codes remained strong.

"What I would say about it is that we're aware and respect the achievements of athletes in every sport," he said.

"We were delighted to congratulate the IRFU on their international success, we applaud our soccer teams, our boxers, we parade our sportsmen who win international competitions in Croke Park, and we're happy to do that.

"It would be an awful pity... that any sports person would look to denigrate any other sportspeople and we applaud athletes.

"In fact, it's ironic that at a time when we have made an offer to Athletics Ireland to use some of our centres of excellence around the country, we've said that if they want to put athletics tracks around some of our centres of excellence, that we'd be delighted to co-operate with that, because we were the Gaelic Athletic Association at one time.

"There's always been a sort of natural alignment between Gaelic games and athletics and we'd love to foster that."

The Laois man moved to iron out any confusion surrounding New York's continuing involvement in the Connacht championship.

O'Neill appeared to call into question the exiles' ongoing participation as a senior county team when he mentioned the possibility of the GAA staging a World Cup in the future but he insisted that isn't the case.

"New York's future in the championship, there's nobody questioning it. Certainly not," he said.

"We're spending something over $3m in physical infrastructure in New York. The majority of it is on Gaelic Park, but also we're backing projects in Rockland and Shannon Gaels. That's just within New York, so why would an organisation invest that money if we're downgrading?"

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