Three-time All-Star Karl Lacey could play a part in tomorrow’s Second International Rules Test against Australia on the Gold Coast amid doubts over Emmet Bolton’s fitness.
Kildare player Bolton sustained concussion after an accidental clash in Friday’s first Test in Melbourne, which Ireland won 80-36. Lacey was added to the original Irish squad two weeks ago because of doubts over the availability of Colm Begley from Laois, who was partaking in club championship at home with Dublin club Parnell’s.
However, when the former Brisbane Lions player Begley belatedly made the trip it meant Four Masters defender Lacey was the only one of the travelling party not required for Friday’s 23-man squad.
Lacey will join county teammates Neil McGee from Gaoth Dobhair and Glenswilly’s Michael Murphy, who had an excellent first Test. The Donegal captain scored a goal and two overs, as well as setting up two further goals and putting in a good shift defensively. He cited good preparation as the paramount ingredient in Friday’s win.
“We expected it to be a wee bit tighter than it was,” Murphy said. “We were well prepared for it and we were looking forward to the game. The preparations had gone well for the last couple of months so we were happy enough with the outcome.”
Murphy made his international debut last year at the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick in a drab opening Test and the Australians did enough at Croke Park a week later to post a 102-92 Series win. Last week showed a considerable improvement for the Irish team.
“Last year they gave us a lesson on how to play the game, in both Tests,” Murphy added. “I don’t know this year was it that it just didn’t happen for them or we were very good. Maybe it was a mixture of both. We performed fairly well and they didn’t perform up to scratch. The next day we would expect an Aussie backlash because that’s what we’re going to get – those players won’t want to let that happen again.
“Something that was a bit alien to us was the tackle and it’s something we worked hard on. It’s nice for the forwards because we’re always on the receiving end of it and we get a bit of flak for not tackling. It’s a way to let off a bit of steam and it’s nice to do that. We try to work hard for the team and that’s something we have worked hard on in training.”
GAA director general Páraic Duffy has admitted that the low attendance figures for Friday night’s first Test could endanger the future of the hybrid game. Just 22,921 fans turned out to watch Ireland’s attempt to regain the Cormac McAnallen trophy at Etihad Stadium.
“Clearly, there would be concern with the attendance figures – they were disappointing,” Duffy said.
“It doesn’t seem to generate the same levels of interest that it did here or that it does in Ireland. When you have only two countries involved in a competition and in one, through attendance figures, suggests a certain apathy, it does certainly raise questions long term. If this pattern was to continue, if the next game only drew 10,000 then the series is in serious trouble. There is no doubt about that.”
Tomorrow’s second Test will throw-in at 9.45am and coverage will start on TG4 from 9am.