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Dublin: 14 °C Thursday 24 May, 2018

Could a date change save the International Rules series?

Talk of a one-game series between Ireland and Australia is “not ideal”, admits manager Paul Earley.

Image: INPHO/James Crombie

THE INTERNATIONAL RULES series could be moved to November in an attempt to give the struggling Tests a shot in the arm.

The GAA has pressed ahead with plans for a series in Australia this year and details are expected to be confirmed next week.

The main concern is the AFL’s ability to field its best players after their indigenous-only team was on the receiving end of a record 101-point loss in Ireland last October.

Pushing the games back by a month would move them out of the Australian clubs’ holiday window to a time when most players will be back in pre-season training and available for selection.

Another trade-off would be to cut the series to one Test against a strong Aussie team, rather than two or more against a weaker side, though Ireland manager Paul Earley admitted that compromise is not ideal.

“They have committed verbally to getting their best players available,” he said.

“That is the most important thing of all because we want our best to play their best. That is the whole purpose.”

He added: “The whole premise of the series is that we play our best players against each other. If it is a one-game series, so be it.

It is not ideal by any means. You would expect it to be more than that but it does meet the requirements to some extent.

A November date would also ease the club v country demands on Irish players but Earley has “no doubt” that the GAA’s best remain fully committed to the series.

“It was a real privilege for me to work with the top players last year and you talk to any of those players, the desire that they have to play for their country is absolutely massive.

“The challenges for some of the players who are caught between two stools, they want to commit to their club after the inter-county season is over and they want to play football for their country.

“The top players want to play for their country. All you need to do is to be in the dressing room before those games in terms of the preparation and you will see how much it means.”

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Niall Kelly

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