AS IRELAND MAKE last-minute preparations ahead of tomorrow’s decisive International Rules second Test at Croke Park, reports in Australia suggest GAA and AFL chiefs have agreed changes to the series.
Fox Sports reports that Aussie Rules bosses and Croke Park officials have met in Dublin and agreed the series would now be played every two years, alternating between both countries, with a gap year after each two-year cycle.
Says AFL chief executive Andrew Demetriou:
We had great crowds and great ratings and good numbers, but it is a large ask on players. I think we have got the balance right with two out of every three (years).
And when the Irish do return Down Under, they are likely to face a familiar foe in Mick Malthouse, as the Collingwood coach is in line to retain his position, according to Demetriou.
“The way Mick has embraced the series, the way he has gone about it, ” he said, “makes us think this is the sort of thing that we can have someone doing on a much more continual basis,” he said.
But Malthouse is not a happy camper this week it seems as he launched a full-blooded tackle on the Irish press, according to the Irish Times.
He says, the negative local media coverage of the game runs the risk of killing the series and that he has never seen ‘such negativity in sports coverage’.
Sean Moran quotes Malthouse, who led Collingwood to a first premiership title in 20 years recently, as saying:
I have to say I’m a reluctant reader of newspapers in regard to sport unless it’s other than Australian Rules football. So I’ve been bemused by reading here – just to get a gauge on how it’s taken – that there seems to be this misery that the game has lost its brutality.
Yet, we bemoan that in 2006 things happened that were poor quality in a game between two countries with a long and interlinked history; there are so many people in Australia with Irish blood.
Liam Picken, meanwhile, is the latest casualty for the visitors as he suffered a hip injury during a marking duel with Kieran Jack. He will be assessed tomorrow morning.