Saturday 18 November 2017

Three players may miss first test as stomach bug hits International Rules squad

Shane Walsh pours a bottle of water over his head during Ireland International Rules Squad training at the Gaelic Football and Hurling Association of South Australia, St. Mary's Park, Adelaide, Australia Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Shane Walsh pours a bottle of water over his head during Ireland International Rules Squad training at the Gaelic Football and Hurling Association of South Australia, St. Mary's Park, Adelaide, Australia Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile
Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

International Rules manager, Joe Kernan will be keeping an anxious vigil over the next 36 hours as three of the Irish players who are due to face Australia in the first test in Adelaide battle to recover from a stomach bug.

Pearce Hanley (Gold Coast & Mayo), Niall Murphy (Sligo) and Enda Smith (Roscommon) were struck down yesterday and there’s now a major doubt over whether they will be able to play in a game which starts at 5.10am Irish time on Sunday.

The three players were moved to single rooms at the team hotel to minimise the risk to their colleagues.

“Hopefully it will stay at that and no more of the boys pick up the bug. We have the three lads away in rooms on their own - they’re being well looked after by the medical team.

“They all got a good night’s sleep last night and were feeling better. Hopefully by Sunday, they will be able to play at some stage. It’s just one of those things - you just have to get on with it,” said Kernan.

Even if the trio recover quickly, it’s unlikely that they will be at anything like full power, which would be a major setback for Ireland’s prospects of banking a good result before moving on to Perth for the second test next Saturday.

Playing in intense heat - temperatures are expected zoom to 34 degrees on Sunday - presents a major challenge in any circumstances, let alone for players who have been weakened by illness.

“If we can get the three lads back, it’s a bonus. If not, we have 20 men well able to do the job. We’d love to have all 23 fully fit, especially in that heat, but we’ll have to deal with whatever comes along,” said Kernan.

International Rules allow for squads of 23, all of whom can play in an interchange system where players rotate as the discretion of the manager.

The Australians have already lost two of their 23 but decided not to replace them as they obviously believe that 21 is adequate for the game plan they will deploy.

Eoin Cadogan (Cork) and Conor McManus (Monaghan) also sat out yesterday’s training session which was slightly shorter than planned due to the heat.

It’s expected that the Australians will adopt an aggressive approach to the game but Kernan remains unfazed.

“Our boys won’t back away. I’m not going to tell boys like Aidan O’Shea, Michael Murphy and Zac Tuohy to pull out of anything. All the boys will put everything they have into it.

“We have a team that can cope with whatever is thrown at them. And if anything happens that shouldn’t I’m sure the referees will deal with it,” he said.

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