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Dublin: 5 °C Wednesday 29 January, 2020

Keegan to miss out for Ireland's trip to Oz and 3 AFL-based players will be in Kernan's squad

Ireland are getting set for November’s International Rules tests.

Updated 17.23pm

LEE KEEGAN IS set to miss out on the upcoming International Rules series against Australia in November due to injury.

Lee Keegan Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

International Rules manager Joe Kernan confirmed the news at a press briefing in the Australian Embassy this afternoon.

Mayo defender Keegan is the reigning Footballer of the Year and played for his country in every series between 2013-15.

“He’s carried a wee bit of an injury over from the All-Ireland and just unfortunately won’t be able to make it,” revealed Kernan.

“(It’s) disappointing. He’s just definitely out. I’m sad for him and I’m sad for us that he can’t make it.”

Joe Kernan Joe Kernan pictured at the sponsorship announcement of EirGrid as team sponsor for the Ireland International Rules side Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Former All-Ireland winning manager Kernan also stated that Zach Tuohy, Conor McKenna and Pearse Hanley are the three AFL-based players that’ll be included in his squad, leaving 20 spots available.

“I thought it was important because we’re going to Australia to have players in training when we’re out there and the knowledge that they will have.

“We only have 12 of the boys out there that are playing but it was hard to bypass these three guys who played 21, 17 and 15 matches, and were probably three of the best out there.

Biz Dsk EirGrid to sponsor Ireland International Rules Team-2-1 Pictured at the sponsorship announcement of EirGrid as team sponsor for the Ireland International Rules side is from left Rosemary Steen, Director External Affairs,EirGrid; H.E., The Australian Ambassador to Ireland,Richard Andrews; and GAA President Aogán Ó Fearghail.

“Zach Tuohy I know from reports will probably be in the running for player of the year. Now they (Geelong) were beaten last weekend but he’s had a fantastic season. Him and Pearce changed clubs, which Irish lads normally don’t do that but it was for the better of themselves and they both played very well.

“Conor just oozes excitement and the joy of the game, great skill levels. Pace, power and accuracy would be the three things we’re looking for in players.”

The Ireland boss will name his captain and the full 23-man squad in three weeks. Trials began last Friday at the GAA’s Development Centre at the National Sports Campus in Abbottstown and will be stepped up in the coming weekends.

“Last weekend we were short numbers, it was 26. This weekend there’ll be 36. But there’s a lot of club matches on.

“Some of the boys played last weekend with club matches, next week we’re having to step it up and say, ‘Hey boys if you’ve a club match on a Sunday, you still have to be there on a Friday night, you’ll only play one quarter’.

“We have to work with each other but if they don’t turn up, they can’t expect to have a chance to impress.”

Kernan is also hoping to call on members of the Dublin and Mayo teams that contested the All-Ireland finals but is unsure yet of their availabilty.

“I have 8 or 9 from Dublin and Mayo each. There’s some of them waiting to come back with work commitments, there’s 3 or 4 with injury problems and there’s one or two that can’t commit because of work. I’d be hoping at least four from each.”

Conor McKenna Conor McKenna was present at the sponsorship announcement of EirGrid as team sponsor for the Ireland International Rules side. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

The 2002 Armagh All-Ireland winning boss is keeping an open mind on his eventual squad selection.

“There’s that many good players in the GAA we’ll not be lacking. They mightn’t be the household names that we might want to take, but all over the years there’s players, and I don’t like saying this, from so-called weaker counties and they’ve excelled in this.

Gary Brennan under pressure from Nick Riewoldt Gary Brennan in action for Ireland against Australia in 2015. Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

“Years ago it was Spike Fagan from Westmeath, then Leighton Glynn from Wicklow was unmarkable.

“Gary Brennan two years ago saved our bacon with high fielding. If he was 18 they’d be looking at him out in Australia.”

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