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Thursday 8 December 2016

Kerrigan follows his father's lead in a series that has shed its 'X-rated' past

Paul Kerrigan
Paul Kerrigan

Like father, like son. When Compromise Rules announced its, ahem, uncompromising arrival on the global sporting stage, Jimmy Kerrigan was in the thick of it all - starting all three tests in the home series of 1984, and the next three also when Ireland toured Australia in '86.

Tomorrow evening in Croke Park, Cork speedster Paul Kerrigan will follow in his dad's footsteps. "Hugely honoured" is how he sums it up.

While they aren't quite unique (Kerry's Seán and Tommy Walsh are another father-son combination to don the green) it still registers as a pretty special achievement for the Kerrigan clan.

"It would have been a big part of his career," Paul recalls. "In '86 they went over with Kevin Heffernan and they had a very strong team. It was a bit more physical probably than it is now, a bit more X-rated.

"When I told him first that I got a call for trials, he was delighted. Just said, 'See how you go.' Then I told him (about making the squad) and he was obviously delighted. It'll be a big thing for my family this weekend. I mightn't have thought I'd have got the opportunity but I'm delighted."

Back when Jimmy Kerrigan played the hybrid game, you were occasionally left to wonder if the term 'Rules' was some sort of in-joke. It was beyond bruising.

"It was definitely something that stuck with him from his career," his son reflects. "All the best players were going over. Heffernan was the manager - that would have been Dublin's equivalent of Billy Morgan for us. I'd say he really enjoyed it and he'd still talk about it."

As for the iconic Heffernan, Kerrigan Snr "had great respect for him... he said he was a very good man-manager, a very good way about him."

Chasing

Fast-forward three decades, and now his 28-year-old son is gearing up for his international debut... while still in the midst of chasing another Munster club title, Nemo Rangers having qualified for Sunday week's provincial final against Clonmel Commercials.

Kerrigan may be just touching six foot but he's not your typical Gaelic prototype to face the Aussies.

Manager Joe Kernan, he confirms, has been "harping onto me since the start, about where he wants me to get the ball on the burst in dangerous areas. He said from the start, he wanted fast fellas who could kick the ball and skilful fellas, so he's been very positive to me since I came.

"So yeah, my role is that I'm not going to be playing 80 minutes, my game is all about pace, so myself and Peter (Harte) will try to bring that whenever we get in there. But easier said than done."

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