Northern stars set to shine against Aussies in International Rules
Ulster is set to wield a strong influence when Ireland bid to come out on top in the International Rules Tests against Australia later this month.
Ireland manager Sean Boylan, the former Meath All Ireland winning boss, has named a raft of players from the province in his touring party.
And the Ulster factor will extend beyond the playing arena with Anthony Tohill a key selector, Mike McGurn the conditioning coach and Sean Marty Lockhart the runner.
Boylan is clearly preparing for a physical series given the bulk and power contained in his squad.
Skipper Sean Cavanagh is joined by three of his Tyrone All Ireland winning colleagues – the McMahon brothers Joe and Justin along with Enda McGinley – while Armagh trio Aaron Kernan, Steven McDonnell and Ciaran McKeever also get the nod.
Derry’s Paddy Bradley and Down’s Benny Coulter, one of the most experienced players in the squad, also make the cut for the trip Down Under.
Skipper Cavanagh has hailed the inclusion of his Ulster colleagues but is also adamant that the squad overall is well balanced and ready for the challenge against the Aussies.
“Our preparations have been going well under Sean and there is a great focus within the squad. The fact that the series is now resuming against a backdrop of considerable interest and maybe some apprehension makes it imperative that the sport should be shown in the best possible light,” says Cavanagh, a strong contender for the Footballer of the Year prize.
Beaten All Ireland finalists Kerry have four players in the touring party and it’s no great surprise that Kieran Donaghy, Aidan O’Mahoney and Tommy Walsh are among them. Also included is wing-back Killian Young.
Cork normally enjoy a healthy representation in Rules sides and once again Graham Canty, a superb exponent of Rules football, is in the mix along with his Rebel cohorts Pearse O’Neill and John Miskella.
It is interesting to note that there are no fewer than six Ulster players in the list of stand-by players meaning that perhaps some of them could yet find their way onto the plane for Down Under.
There are some notable inclusions such as Mayo’s Tom Parsons who made a big impact this year and Wicklow’s Kevin Glynn. The squad goalkeeper is Meath’s David Gallagher – and he actually plays outfield for his club!