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Kernan looks to Sludden and Grimley to inspire Irish


By John Campbell

Ireland manager Joe Kernan has thrown down the gauntlet to his players ahead of Sunday's first International Rules test against Australia at the Adelaide Oval (6am UK time).

Kernan, who has indicated that the Rules trip will be his last managerial brief at any level, is urging his team to get the better of their hosts in terms of pace and power.

And he is looking to players like Niall Sludden and Niall Grimley in particular to step up to the mark as Ireland bid to retain the coveted Cormac McAnallen trophy.

Kernan took charge of another training session yesterday and he is expected to finalise his starting team for the match within the next 24 hours.

"I believe we have players who can match the Aussies in terms of physique and drive but it is important that we get into our stride early," stated Kernan.

"I am aware of what the Australians have been saying, but the fact of the matter is that they play good football now and they obviously see this as the way forward no matter what they are saying."

With the temperature likely to soar into the 30s during the game on Sunday, Kernan recognises that his players face a tough challenge in the sweltering conditions.

"We knew before we came here what we would be encountering, so we just have to get on with it," he pointed out.

"I think our lads will be able to cope. Our training has been going well and we are in good fettle."

Tyrone ace Sludden is likely to be handed a key role in the side and his sharp bursts could trouble the Aussies' defensive mechanism, while Grimley, who was one of the last players to make the selection cut, is in line for a dramatic Rules baptism that would bring down the curtain on what has been an eventful season for him.

A virtual unknown at the start of the campaign, he soared to prominence with Armagh and is now tipped by county manager Kieran McGeeney to make further progress.

Indeed, even before Ireland left for Australia, Kernan paid a fulsome tribute to Grimley, citing his midfield prowess as one of the reasons for the Orchard County's progress.

And Grimley certainly intends to repay the faith shown in him.

"It's great to be part of the Ireland set-up, this will be an invaluable experience for me and obviously I am hopeful that we can retain the Cormac McAnallen Cup," stated the 22-year-old Madden clubman.

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