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International Rules: Lacey ready for action if call comes

By John Campbell

Donegal's All Star centre-back Karl Lacey won't take any part in the International Rules series unless one of his colleagues is ruled out over the next eight days.

Ireland’s call: Donegal’s Karl Lacey is on stand-by for Ireland

With club championships causing uncertainty over the final group who would fly to Australia last weekend, Lacey was drafted into the squad. He travelled to Melbourne on Saturday but won't now be required as a full complement of 23 made the trip.

He will, however, be on stand-by in the event of anybody picking up an injury and since he has been working with the squad all week, he could slot in quite easily. He has one international cap.

Ireland will today complete preparations for the first Test against Australia tomorrow morning (9.45am Irish time), having put in a productive week on the training ground.

Meath's Kevin Reilly missed yesterday's session as a precautionary measure after sustaining a minor ankle injury but is expected to be fit.

Despite losing both Tests, in Limerick and Croke Park last year, Ireland have been installed as favourites (8/11) to beat Australia (11/10) tomorrow, prior to heading to the Gold Coast for the second Test one week later.

Ireland's rating as favourites is down to the impressive record of travelling teams over the 27-year history of the series, plus the fact that only four of the Australian panel have played International Rules before, compared to 15 for Ireland.

However, experience hasn't always counted for much in the past and, based on the evidence of their warm-up game against a local selection on Tuesday, the Australians are adapting well to the composite game.

“They have a really mobile team. These guys will run all day — that's where we'll have to match them,” said Kieran Donaghy, who wins his fourth cap tomorrow.

There is perhaps more than a touch of irony to the fact that the ongoing recession in this part of the world will spark an outbreak of patriotic fervour when Ireland take on Australia tomorrow.

On previous Rules tours, the Irish side enjoyed little more than a whisper of support.

But this time it will be rather different. With hundreds of Irish people, including many GAA club members, having carved out a new life in Australia over the past 18 months in particular, there will be rather more raucous support for the boys in green tomorrow.

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