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Ulster semi-final showdown puts Kernan on his guard

By Declan Bogue

Published 03/11/2015

National service: Darren Hughes (left) is expected to be in the Ireland team to face Australia in the International Rules Test
National service: Darren Hughes (left) is expected to be in the Ireland team to face Australia in the International Rules Test

International Rules manager Joe Kernan could end up watching the upcoming Ulster semi-final between Scotstown and Trillick in a state of high anxiety, as no fewer than four potential Ireland players will take the field six days before the Test against Australia in Croke Park, on November 21.

Trillick's Mattie Donnelly comes up against another established Ireland star in Scotstown's Darren Hughes.

Two other current International Rules trialists, Rory Beggan and Kieran Hughes, will also be lining out for Mattie McGleenan's Scotstown.

"We will just have to manage it as best possible. It will come to a head shortly," said Darren Hughes, in the aftermath of Scotstown's impressive dethroning of Ulster champions, Derry's Slaughtneil in Clones.

"The squad is not named yet, but there will be somebody, between me and Mattie (Donnelly), Kieran and Rory in the squad.

"There is going to be one loser, so I suppose somebody will have to make a big decision after the semi-final."

When asked if five days was too short a period to prepare to take on an Australia team that will be hosting a training camp in New York, on their way over to Ireland, Hughes replied; "I shouldn't see why not? A game a week, it's not that big a deal."

Despite Scotstown's commitments, Hughes, his brother Kieran and goalkeeper Beggan have all been attending the regular Friday night training sessions and trials for the test.

He explained, "Joe has been very accommodating to us, but obviously he will be naming the squad next week and we will see how that goes first."

Looking ahead to the upcoming Ulster semi-final, Hughes explained something of the claustrophobic nature of Ulster football in that his brother Kieran and Trillick's Richie Donnelly still share a house.

He added: "We have played each other often enough in challenge matches and so on. Fair play to them, they showed that the Tyrone Championship was no fluke to them.

"They have pushed on now in the first round in Ulster and no doubt, it will be a great game in a couple of months. It will be tasty enough now."

Another player who Kernan will be pleased to welcome onboard full-time will be Fermanagh captain, Eoin Donnelly.

His club Coa O'Dwyer's were beaten by Monaghan's Rockcorry in the Ulster junior quarter-final last Sunday.

He has reportedly been showing serious aptitude for this code of football and could become only the third man from the Erne county to earn an International cap, after Marty McGrath and Paul Brewster.

Belfast Telegraph

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