GAA Football

Australia not concerned by Ireland's numerical advantage

Ireland manager Joe Kernan and his Aussie counterpart Chris Scott Picture by INPHO
From Cahair O'Kane in Perth

AUSTRALIA’S head coach says that he is not concerned about Ireland’s numerical advantage ahead of today’s second test.

While Ireland flew Darren Hughes over in midweek and drafted in former Carlton player Ciaran Sheehan, as well as getting Enda Smith and Niall Murphy back after they’d missed the first test through illness, the Aussies didn’t go to such lengths.

They too had a squad of 21 last weekend and while Joel Selwood will return, Scott Pendlebury and Paddy Ryder are both ruled out.

They have called up Shaun Higgins to replenish but Ireland will still have two extra men to spring from the interchange bench.

“I'm not really an advocate of saying it won't hurt us when we lose key players - we would love to have them available - but we still think we are really strong,” said Scott.

“With a shorter game-time, it doesn't seem to worry us that we have a few less on the bench. It's more about getting guys on at the right time.

"There are some players at home in Ireland that I'm sure the Irish would love to have in their team but there is so much depth in both sports that the difference between your 40th best player and your 20th is pretty tight."

He had seemed to suggest last weekend that they would adopt a slightly more measured approach than the all-out attack that brought dividends, but the Geelong coach says that sitting back to protect their 10-point lead would be criminal.

"There is a huge risk in trying to protect a 10-point lead with the skill of the Irish. We need to be a little bit careful that we don't open up ourselves to unders (goals) because that lead can be extinguished pretty quickly.

“But if you sit back too much, even though we were prepared for it and talked about it, some of the players and even us in the coaches' box were surprised with some of the range the (Irish) guys have so you don't want to sit back too much because they'll just knock it over your head.

"We want to play a really attacking style. It would just be so counter to the instincts our players have to talk about playing really dour, defensive football.”

“Clearly, the aggregate is the most important thing, and doing what you can to win the series. But there’s also each game in isolation. I think it would leave a bit of a bad taste in our mouth if we won on aggregate, but lost the game.”

MEANWHILE, in one way, Australian captain Shaun Burgoyne won’t be sad to see the back of the Domain Stadium.

The Subiaco stadium on the fringes of Perth beaten West Coast Eagles just twice there just twice since he joined from Richmond in 2010.

They’ve had a bit more joy against Fremantle Dockers, who also play in the stadium, but both clubs will move to the new 60,000 seater Perth Stadium in time for the new AFL season.

As such, today will be an iconic occasion – the last ever game at Subiaco Oval before its stands are demolished, although there are plans to keep the playing surface intact as a community oval.

“It’s an honour to play the last ever game here,” said Burgoyne at yesterday’s press conference in the Bill Walker room at the stadium.

“There’s a lot of history with this oval, though the new oval will be fantastic for Perth. Playing the last game here means something to the boys. It will mean more if we get a win.”

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