Tuesday 23 January 2018

Brogan eager to make mark

Gaelic Grounds, Tonight, 7.0, Live TG4

IF the first few minutes of the first test of every International Rules series seem kind of chaotic, well ... that's because they are – and expect nothing different in Limerick tonight.

All the practice and drills have been done but it's only when these teams actually pitch their conflicting interpretations of this hybrid spectacle do we get a clear picture of the sort of fun and frolics that will unfold.

“We've gone through all the drills and we've played internal matches but you will only realise the speed and the strength of the Australians when we hit the pitch,” says footballer of the year Bernard Brogan, who will win his first International Rules cap tonight.

Most likely, Brogan will see plenty of game time and Ireland need the sort of swashbuckling, off-the-cuff accuracy that he displayed all year from all of their snipers inside. “It's vital that we take all our chances in front of goal,” he accepts.


“We should be much better at converting ‘overs' because they won't have the same comfort with our ball but, having said that, they have brought over a different sort of team this year.

“Talking to the lads who play over there like Tadhg, they've told us that Australia have brought over serious ball players this time. “There are none of the big brutes that were here in the past. “These fellas are serious footballers and they have shown already the other night against the Cork colleges that they know how to take their scores and they seem to be more comfortable with the rules than previous Aussie teams.”

That is true and what's most important for Ireland is that they don't – as they have done in the past – revert to playing Gaelic football when they come under pressure. Vitally, ball from midfield into the likes of Brogan, Stevie McDonnell and Michael Murphy, needs to be accurate and direct to give them the chance of a free shot at goal.

“The mark for the forwards is huge but it's a case of adapting,” Brogan stresses.


“In Gaelic football, most of the ball you're getting from deep is bouncing ball but here, it all has to go on the chest so you can take the mark. “It's important for fellas like Tadhg and whoever is out around midfield to hit us directly with the ball because if we take a mark inside their ‘45’, we should be converting those chances.”

If Australia's 105 to 12 hammering of a combined UCC/CIT team proved anything, it's that the Aussies have most certainly come to play this year.

We've heard all about the fact that Mick Malthouse has brought a more skillful, mobile squad than the monstrous outfits that used to tour here but the other night in Páirc Uí Rinn should serve as a warning to Anthony Tohill for one clear reason.

The Aussies were adept at kicking ‘overs' from marks in the forwards, a skill they don't always take for granted. And Jack Riewoldt could be very damaging in the air and in front of goal. Generally, it's impossible to predict the winner of the first test but we just have a hunch for the Aussies.

ODDS: Ireland 8/13, Draw 20/1, Australia 5/4

VERDICT: Australia

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