Monday 19 August 2019

Sheehan and Hughes join Ireland's drive to wipe out 10-point deficit

Ciaran Sheehan in action for Ireland
Ciaran Sheehan in action for Ireland
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

Former Cork All-Ireland medal winner Ciarán Sheehan and Monaghan's Darren Hughes could play an important part in Ireland's bid to overturn a ten-point deficit in the second International Rules Test against Australia in Perth on Saturday.

They have been called in following the departure of Pearce Hanley, who injured a hand in the first Test, and amid concerns about Enda Smith (Roscommon) and Niall Murphy (Sligo).

They missed the first game after being hit with a severe stomach bug and a decision on their fitness will be taken over the next few days.

Hughes flew into Perth on Monday and Sheehan came in from Melbourne, where he has been based as an AFL player.

He was recently released by Carlton after enduring a frustrating time due to injuries but is now back to full fitness.

"We have invited Ciarán up from Melbourne to train with the panel. Given his insights into the Australian game, I am sure he will add something to our preparations and range of options. As for Darren Hughes, he is made for this game," said manager Joe Kernan.

speculation There's speculation that Sheehan, who is still only 26 years old, may return to Cork later on, which would be good news for new Rebels manager Ronan McCarthy.

Meanwhile, Ireland selector, Darragh ó Sé believes that the illness bug which ruled Smith and Murphy out of the first Test weakened the squad in other ways too.

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Several other players were hit with a less debilitating form of the illness and while they managed to play, it was very difficult in the intense heat.

"Lads were going down left, right and centre for a few days. If you saw the doctor coming you thought you were in trouble yourself. It was very unusual," ó Sé said.

"I was on tour before and we never got that kind of a beating sickness-wise. It was a setback in terms of not having our full squad to pick from. Michael Murphy gave a fantastic performance. He wasn't well at all before the game but he showed up as he always does. It has been tough going for everyone but I think the game just gone and the week that we have up to the Perth game will stand to us."

Goalkeeper Niall Morgan is convinced that last Sunday's experience will help Ireland on Saturday.

"We know there's more in us. Ten points might seem a lot but it's less than two goals. It's important that we take our scoring chances and tighten up at the back a bit the next day. It's still there for us," he said.

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