Ulster to have big say in International Rules mission
Ulster is already assured of a significant input into Ireland’s bid to win the forthcoming International Rules series - and that’s before the squad has even been finalised.
Former Derry All Ireland winner Anthony Tohill is a selector, Pat McEnaney has been appointed as Ireland’s referee, Oak Leaf dynamo Sean Martin Lockhart will be the team’s runner and former Irish rugby coaching assistant Mike McGurn will have a major role in preparing the squad.
But it’s on the field of play that it is hoped the Ulster influence will be most profoundly felt.
Already a number of players from the province have taken part in training sessions and trial games and with manager Sean Boylan, who guided Meath to four All Ireland titles during his 23 years in charge, now checking on the fitness and availability of the Tyrone candidates, the momentum is being stepped up.
Boylan has already indicated that competition for places in his squad will be fierce.
“I have been very impressed with the commitment shown by everyone to date. Obviously we have more options to consider but I would be hopeful that we will be taking a strong squad with us to Australia,” says Boyland.
Ireland, though, will be without Martin Clarke, now an established Australian Rules player, because of injury. Clarke, from the An Riocht club, would have been a certain starter had he been fit.
Tadgh Kennelly, the former Kerry player who boasts a fine pedigree in the AFL, is also out of the equation because of injury.
Players from Armagh, Down, Kerry, Monaghan, Fermanagh, Cavan and Derry are in the frame for places and there will now be considerable Ulster interest in the composition of the Ireland squad when it is unveiled by Boylan and his selectors on October 6.
“This is going to be a physical mission and we will play with all our might within the rules to win,” stated Boylan.