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Kernan looks close to home in assembling Aussie test staff

By Declan Bogue

Take a long hard look at Joe Kernan's backroom team for the upcoming International Rules series, for it's unlikely that any Ireland management team will carry such an overwhelming Ulster influence.

And yet, while Ulster GAA sometimes unfairly gets the name as being largely opposed to the sport and these games against Australia, it has been to the northern province that the GAA has turned far more than most to lead them into battle.

Since the revival of the series in 1998, the managerial role has been held on a two-game basis, even though there might have been two full years between the tests.

Colm O'Rourke of Meath held the post first before passing it onto Brian McEniff, Donegal's 1992 All-Ireland winning manager. Kerry's John O'Keefe then stepped in for a spell before Down's Pete McGrath was the incumbent.

The honour went to Sean Boylan for 2006 and 2008, succeeded by Anthony Tohill of Derry.

Paul Earley of Roscommon sandwiches Tohill's and Joe Kernan's time in charge.

This year Paul Kernan, son of Joe who has been living in Australia for the last four years, will be his on-pitch 'runner', taking over from brother Aaron.

Three-time All-Ireland winner with Tyrone, and a former 2008 International, Enda McGinley is with the squad in his professional capacity as a physio.

Former Antrim footballer John McCloskey will be there as trainer.

Ciaran Sloan, of Ulster rugby and Down football fame, is strength and conditioning coach.

On the line, Kernan has retained former players Paraic Joyce (Galway), Darragh OSe (Kerry) and Dermot Earley (Kildare), but he will also be picking the brains of Aussie Rules players Zach Tuohy (Laois and now Geelong), Pearce Hanley (Mayo and now Gold Coast) and Conor McKenna (Tyrone and Essendon Bombers).

It's some brains trust as they plot to take on the Aussies, starting with the first test in Adelaide.

Belfast Telegraph


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