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Brendan Harrison training ahead of the first test on Sunday.

Brendan Harrison training ahead of the first test on Sunday.

Brendan Harrison enjoying International Rules adventure

By Cian O'Connell

Brendan Harrison's sporting adventure continues. Now an established figure with Mayo, Harrison was thrilled to accept Joe Kernan’s invitation to Ireland’s International Rules Series trials.

Unsurprisingly, the Aghamore clubman subsequently earned a place in the squad for the tests against Australia. Being involved Ireland has also helped following Mayo’s latest All Ireland defeat against Dublin.

“The week after the All Ireland we were back into club football and the weekend after that we went straight into this,” Harrison explains.

“It has been a tough few weeks with matches and trials, but it is a good game to play. It is different to the Gaelic obviously, but it is something different, something new. It is actually a very enjoyable game.”

Kernan’s phone call was met by a positive response from Harrison. “Joe just gave me a call one evening, I was actually just coming out from a club match and I got the call to come up,” Harrison says.

“I was delighted to get the shout, to put on the green jersey is a massive honour. To come out here, to represent Ireland is some feeling.

“It was something I jumped at. It is something I have always followed. I remember every time there was a series at home I would always go to matches, I really enjoyed the game. As soon as I got the shout I was absolutely delighted to give it a good rattle. I was looking forward to the trials, to give it my all.”

That has certainly been the case with Harrison acknowledging the importance of retaining possession through solid foot deliveries in this particular sport.

“I suppose the biggest challenge is that your kick passing has to be a lot more on the button, especially with marks and things like that. In Gaelic you can play it out to the wings, boys run on to it, where in this game if you play it out to the wings boys are going to get clobbered.

“Kick passing has to be very tight, the physicality of it too. The Aussies are well used to that physicality, but I think Gaelic Football has come up to a great standard in the last few years.”

The Green and Red influence in the Irish panel is another source of encouragement and inspiration. Aidan O’Shea, Chris Barrett, and Ballaghadereen native Pearce Hanley, who plays in the AFL for Gold Coast, are all involved.

“It is brilliant to have the lads, especially with Aido being named captain. That is a massive honour, everybody is very proud of him back home.

“To meet Pearce out here, to get to play with him, even to get his experience being involved in professional set-ups is good. There is a good representation from Mayo out here.”

While the latest loss to Dublin hurt Mayo to the core, Harrison is looking forward to 2018 and is hopeful that further members of the talented 2016 All Ireland Under 21 winning team can graduate to the senior set-up.

“Fatigue wise you don't mind getting over that, it is the mental things that you have to get over,” Harrison remarks about the September setback.

“The week after we were back into club football, that was a good distraction and this was a serious distraction because it gives you another goal to go after as opposed to be at home thinking about it.

“So it was brilliant to get away talking to other lads, things like that. We are a good few weeks out now, I'm looking forward to getting back into  pre-season with Mayo.

“You are coming that close, but I think it is a great motivation, especially coming into a new year. If you were a long way off it may be harder to come into it because you'd be thinking we have a lot of work to do, but it is only percentages that are needed.

“We have a lot of new lads coming in, we have a lot of young, new and fresh guys pushing lads for places which also helps the boys that have a jersey already, to push them harder.

“It is going to be exciting getting a few of the Under 21 boys in over the FBD and the start of the League. Things are looking good for us.” Hope and expectation will always accompany Mayo, especially with accomplished footballers like Harrison steering the ship.

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