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Joe Kernan

Joe Kernan

Lee Keegan ruled out of Ireland International Rules squad

By John Harrington

Mayo star Lee Keegan has been ruled out of Ireland’s International Rules Squad that will tour Australia in November through injury.

But team manager Joe Kernan is still hopeful his squad will have a strong representation from All-Ireland finalists Dublin and Mayo.

“Lee carried a wee bit of an injury over from the All-Ireland and just unfortunately won't be able to make it,” said Kernan today.

“It’s disappointing. I'm sad for him and I'm sad for us that he can't make it.

“In fairness to Dublin and Mayo players I never phoned one of them until last weekend out of courtesy to their management and to the rest of their team, not to be talking about something that didn't affect them until they finished the job they were doing.

“There's a couple of boys that can't do it because of work. I have 8 or 9 from Dublin and Mayo each, 18 players that I asked from the two counties. There's some of them waiting to come back with work commitments, there's 3 or 4 with injury problems and there's one or two that can't commit because of work. I'd be hoping at least four from each.”

Kernan also confirmed today that his final squad of 23 will include three Irish players currently playing in the AFL – Pearce Hanley of Gold Coast Football Club, Zach Tuohy of Geelong, and Conor McKenna of Essendon.

Joe Kernan with former Tyrone minor footballer, Conor McKenna, who now plays in the AFL with Essendon.
Joe Kernan with former Tyrone minor footballer, Conor McKenna, who now plays in the AFL with Essendon.

“I thought it was important because we're going to Australia to have players in training when we're out there and the knowledge that they will have,” said Kernan.

“Looking back on the game two years ago it was an eye opener for me playing four quarters. You try and keep a high tempo in each one of them and there's sometimes you drop tempo and it's about keeping your shape.

“We didn't have an outlet for the ball and to have those boys there and to be able to talk us through things the way they do it.”

The extended Ireland squad trained together for the first time last weekend and will train again this weekend. Kernan will name his final squad of 23 players in three weeks’ time.

“Last weekend we were short numbers, it was 26. This weekend there'll be 36," said Kernan.

“But there's a lot of club matches on. Some of the boys played last weekend with club matches, next week we're having to step it up and say, 'hey boys if you've a club match on a Sunday, you still have to be there on a Friday night, you'll only play one quarter'.

“We have to work with each other but if they don't turn up, they can't expect to have a chance to impress. We have three weeks work together, as many in as possible, and then name the squad.”

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