IRISH INTERNATIONAL RULES manager Paul Earley has called on supporters to get behind the team in this evening’s first Test in Breffni Park.
The Aussies, he said, are at a “huge advantage” in that they are the away team. The visitors have won 12 of 16 series’ to date.
“The travelling team has won 75 per cent of the series’ and the fact that you’re together and can create that team bond and unity when you’re travelling as a group is an advantage,” said Earley.
“Compared to ourselves, while we’ve had quite a number of training sessions, we haven’t had the full squad together at any one time until the last couple of days. It is more difficult, there’s no doubt about that, particularly this year with the indigenous team.
“There’s no doubt that they’ll have a greater sense of team and unity because of the background and the fact that it’s the first indigenous football team that has represented Australia. We know it’s a huge challenge.
“We’ve tried to deal with it as well as we can in preparing and we’ve just got to get out there and competed as hard and as aggressively as we can.”
Given that Australia will have a full week to prepare for the second Test in Croke Park, while Ireland will break up and reconvene on the day before, it is imperative that the hosts get a result in the first leg. And that means starting well, said Earley.
“Momentum is huge, to get a good start, and to get the crowd behind us. We will have the crowd on our side tomorrow night. Both sides will want to get off to a good start, that’ll be the challenge for both of us.”
Asked by an Australian journalist how hostile the reception can get, Earley joked: “Well, we hope it will be. We’ll see tomorrow night. We’re looking for as close to a full house as possible.
“The GAA supporters traditionally are very passionate when they support their home counties. This is the first opportunity they will have in three years to support the national team so we hope that they will be vocal from the word go, that they’ll be very passionate and clearly, from our point of view, that we give them something to cheer about from early on.
“Against that, we’re playing against professional athletes. These players play week in, week out, home and away series, they go to away venues where 90 per cent of the crowd is against them as well, they know how to deal with that, they’re used to that.
“It won’t be a massive advantage I wouldn’t say but we certainly want the crowd to get behind us early on.”