Tohill: Violence has no place in hybrid game

Anthony Tohill during a press conference today at the Etihad Stadium in Melbourne. Picture: SPORTSFILE

Anthony Tohill has said that a clean, fairly-fought International Rules Series is vitally important for the future of the hybrid game between Ireland and Australia.

The Irish team manager wants his players to maintain their discipline throughout the two-Test battle, which gets underway at Melbourne's Etihad Stadium tomorrow (7.45pm local time/9.45am Irish time).

The vicious, off-the-ball incidents which marred previous Series - most notably in 2005 and 2006 - belong in the past according to Tohill and his Australian counterpart Rodney Eade.

"It has to be played in a good spirit if the thing is going to have any future," insisted the Derry man at today's pre-match press conference.

"We're very mindful of our responsibilities to the future of the game, to the players who'll come behind us, so they have the opportunity to play for their country.

"It's too big a thing to be stuffed up by someone misbehaving on a football pitch. Players all know the boundaries, they know what's acceptable on a football pitch and what isn't.

"Last year's Series didn't have some of the outbursts or some of the violent scenes of the past. We don't want to see that. If that returns, the game has no future."

Tohill was appointed to the managerial position in March of last year, with his contract covering both the 2010 and 2011 International Rules Series.

Last year Australia reclaimed the Cormac McAnallen Cup following a 47-40 win in Limerick and a 55-52 success at Croke Park.

2008 marked Ireland's last Series win and it was on Australian soil. There are eight surviving members from that victorious squad - Colm Begley, Kieran Donaghy, Joe McMahon, Ciaran McKeever, Kevin Reilly, Leighton Glynn, Finian Hanley and Steven McDonnell.

The Australian squad is a youthful one with only four of their players - David Wojcinski, James Frawley, captain Brad Green and Stephen Milne - boasting experience of playing International Rules.

James Kelly and Milne are the only two 2011 All-Australian winners, the hosts' equivalent of the All-Stars, included in Eade's professional panel.

Explaining his selection policy, the Australian boss said: "The squad we've picked suits the game. It's such a non-stop game. I think we'll definitely look at how we can position players to slow the Irish down, and because there's a maximum of four handballs in-a-row, it's going to be a lot about how we use the ball and which way we go with that.

'"We've got a fairly small side. We've picked a running side, so we'll run the ball as much as we can and look at some different ways to use it.

'"I think the one thing that does translate is work-rate. We're going to have to run hard and work hard both ways, and if we do that I think it will compensate for some of the errors we'll make from not being used to the round ball."

Being so accustomed to the round ball is an obvious advantage for Tohill's side and they will need to hammer that home whilst coping with the swarming defence of the Australians.

"We should be able to score better than the Australians with the round ball, we should be able to kick it better," added the 1993 All-Ireland winner.

"But our players are not used to being put under the pressure they're put under when they're disposing of the ball.

"In our game if you touch someone when they're kicking the ball it's a free-kick, whereas in this game they're put under immense physical pressure, and even if they don't make the tackle, it's the threat of the tackle."

He added: "It (the round ball) should be an advantage to us, but it's one that we really haven't been able to exploit, mainly due to the way Australia can pressurise us.

"We can never replicate in our training sessions the intensity that Australia bring to the game...but we'll know on Friday night."

IRELAND Squad: Stephen Cluxton (Dublin), Leighton Glynn (Wicklow), Brendan Murphy (Carlow), Colm Begley (Laois), Kevin Reilly (Meath), Karl Lacey (Donegal), Neil McGee (Donegal), Michael Murphy (Donegal), Steven McDonnell (Armagh), Ciarán McKeever (Armagh), Kevin McKernan (Down), Joe McMahon (Tyrone), Darren Hughes (Monaghan), Finian Hanley (Galway), Eoin Cadogan (Cork), Aidan Walsh (Cork), Paddy Kelly (Cork), Eamonn Callaghan (Kildare), Kieran Donaghy (Kerry), Tommy Walsh (Kerry/St Kilda), Zach Touhy (Laois/Carlton), Tadhg Kennelly (Kerry/Sydney Swans), Pearse Hanley (Mayo/Brisbane Lions), Emmet Bolton (Kildare).

AUSTRALIA Squad: Richard Douglas (Adelaide Crows), James Frawley (Melbourne), Robbie Gray (Port Adelaide), Brad Green (Melbourne), Shaun Grigg (Richmond), James Kelly (Geelong Cats), Jake King (Richmond), Ben McGlynn (Sydney Swans), Trent McKenzie (Gold Coast Suns), Stephen Milne (St Kilda), Angus Monfries (Essendon), Robin Nahas (Richmond), Mark Nicoski (West Coast), Mitch Robinson (Carlton), Liam Shiels (Hawthorn), Zac Smith (Gold Coast Suns), Matthew Suckling (Hawthorn), Andrew Swallow (North Melbourne), Jack Trengove (Melbourne), Bernie Vince (Adelaide Crows), Callan Ward (GWS Giants), David Wojcinski (Geelong Cats), Easton Wood (Western Bulldogs).


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