Colm Begley. INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Begley calls for physicality to return to International Rules series

The Laois player believes fans will respond to greater displays of passion in the hybrid game.

COLM BEGLEY HAS called for physicality to be brought back into the International Rules series and believes that will help attract fans to the hybrid game.

The future of the series between Ireland and Australia has come under scrutiny in the wake of last Saturday night’s lacklustre first test.

But ahead of the second test in Croke Park next Saturday night, Laois player Begley, who is a former AFL player with the Brisbane Lions, believes there is a place for physicality in the game.

“The physicality was something… in 2006 that went overboard. I think it was blown out of proportion a little and they need to let that back into the game.

“The shepherd rule was taken out. I don’t mind shepherd, it involves a player taking himself out of the game to help his team mate. And done within the rules, it’s shoulder to shoulder.

“I don’’t see the problem in two players going at it, toe to toe and having a bit of push and shove. That’s all part of this game. And it should be.

“It gets the crowd going and people see the passion and they get involved in that as well. You saw when Franklin knocked over Kilkenny (last Saturday). That got the biggest roar of the game, in essence.

“I just found that in the game the other night was a bit dead at some stages and I’m sure the fans found that too. The players were trying but it just needs to lift up a small bit more.”


Ireland’s Aidan Walsh and Ciaran Kilkenny tackle Steven Motlop of Australia
Pic: INPHO/Cathal Noonan

Begley is expecting a strong Australian response next Saturday after their 57-35 defeat in Kingspan Breffni Park last Saturday night.

“I know from talking to Mick O’Loughlin and Tadhg (Kennelly), they were very disappointed with the performance. They will be pushing their players very hard to come back next weekend.

“I think the Aussies will put a bit of a physical presence into it and obviously their pride is hurt a small bit after losing the game.”

And the Australian squad have also had to suffer criticism over their socialising after last Saturday’s clash.

“I’m sure some of the players who weren’t involved will be annoyed by it and will want to prove a point,” says Begley. “You can paint the whole team with one brush but it wasn’t the case.

“I’m sure they’ll be hurting about that. They want to perform and show the skills and the pride they have in their country and for themselves.”


Begley insists it remains a great honour to represent Ireland in the competition.

“I don’t care what it is – give me a table tennis table and a racket – I’ll play for my country in any sport.

“For a game where you can play against professional players, play with the best players in Ireland and get the chance to train professionally as we do, it’s a very special moment.

“I’d like to see it available for younger kids coming through and for great players coming through. It’s very hard to beat.”

Johnny Doyle and Ciarán McKeever added to Irish squad

Reports: Australian International Rules players in the dock for late night party

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