Chris McKaigue turns down Ireland call for International Rules game
Joe Kernan will have to plan without the experience of established International Rules star, Derry's Chris McKaigue, after he ruled himself out of any chance of playing against Australia at Croke Park on November 21.
The 26-year-old former Sydney Swans man revealed that his hectic schedule as a hurler and footballer with Slaughtneil Emmets will prevent him from linking up with the Ireland team in the coming weeks as they prepare to take on a squad made up of players who have all won All-Australian awards; the AFL's equivalent of an All-Star.
When asked about the prospect of carving some time out of his club schedule in the wake of Slaughtneil's win over Derrygonnelly Harps in the preliminary round of the Ulster club Championship, McKaigue ruled himself out of the equation.
"That's gone. I've been with Joe for the Railway Cup the last two or three years and he's been more than accommodating, but I literally just cannot get a free weekend," he said.
"It's not fair so I just had to put all my energy into this. That's more than enough."
McKaigue also revealed that Kernan had approached his club mate Brendan Rogers, who settled into senior county action last year after signposting his abilities with a string of superb displays in the All-Ireland series, most notably when he was switched onto Kieran Donaghy for their semi-final win over Austin Stacks last February.
"Brendan and I were asked down to it and we're both in the same boat," explained McKaigue.
"There's quite a few boys now involved in club competition, and they're maybe going to have to look at scheduling it at a different time of year because if you're from a strong club, you can't really get a right crack at it. The club's full steam ahead for me and Brendan."
News of McKaigue's unavailability will concern Kernan, given how Australia are preparing much more thoroughly for this tour. Two years ago, they brought over a team of players of Aboriginal extraction and were heavily beaten in both tests.
They addressed that balance last year and beat Ireland in the single test played in Perth, on a scoreline of 56 to 46.
This year, their representatives will travel to New York for a training camp before making their way to Dublin for the one-off fixture.