Ireland captain Michael Murphy is set to have his fitness and his commitment to club and country tested on the double next weekend.
The All-Ireland winner has been appointed captain of the Irish team for the two game Compromise Rules series which kicks-off against Australia in Cavan on Saturday, October 19.
Murphy has accepted the armband from Ireland boss Paul Earley and is determined to do his country proud at Breffni Park and Croke Park over the two game series.
But he will also be asked to play for his club Glenswilly against Killybegs in the Donegal county final on Sunday, October 20.
And Glenswilly could be in action again the following weekend if they win the Donegal title and advance to the Ulster club championships.
Ireland boss Earley, who has named a provisional 29 man squad for the series, has sympathy for the likes of Murphy, Armagh’s Ciaran McKeever and Dublin’s James McCarthy who must juggle club and country commitments next week.
“There is no denying that it makes logistics difficult. Club championships have been pushed back and back later in the season over the last number of years,” Earley said.
“We have a lot of players who are still involved in club championships and that make it difficult to pick a final squad because you just don’t know week to week if fellows are injured or if they’ve progressed through the club and we’ve tried to be as fair as possible with all the players.
“Obviously, they are hugely committed to their clubs and make sure that the training load isn’t too much on them.
“When they come down to training we assess to see have they trained the night before with the club or if they have a match in a few days’ time.
“We try to work with the players as much as possible because they all want to play for their club and they are hugely committed but they all want to play for their country as well.
“We trying to manage that, it’s challenging but we have to do what we can.”
Earley has included players from 15 counties in his provisional squad for the first test in Cavan, with Murphy as captain and Cork’s Aidan Walsh as vice-captain.
Murphy is delighted to be captain and said, “It is a massive honor to be involved with the Irish team, never mind accepting the accolade to lead my country as team captain.
“I have enjoyed immensely the experience of pulling on the Irish jersey in the past and I am especially looking forward to playing with the best footballers from our game against the visiting Australian team over the course of the two upcoming tests.”
Beaten All-Ireland finalists Mayo have four players on the squad. Cork, Donegal, Laois and All-Ireland champions Dublin have three each.
Laois native Zach Tuohy is the only Australian-based player in the panel.
Earley added, “We are delighted to be able to confirm our training panel for the upcoming series and training has really stepped up in recent weeks with the inclusion of players from both of the All-Ireland finalists.
“We have a great response from players both in coming to join the panel and in training and we are pleased with the progress made to date.
“Injury has prevented a number of players from making this panel but we are very pleased with the group of players we are working with and very much looking forward to the two games.”
Provisional Ireland squad: Michael Murphy (Donegal), Aidan Walsh (Cork), Paddy O’Rourke (Meath), Colm Begley (Laois), Colm Boyle (Mayo), Ciaran Byrne (Louth), Sean Cavanagh (Tyrone), Paul Conroy (Galway), John Doyle (Kildare), Paul Flynn (Dublin), Finian Hanley (Galway), John Heslin (Westmeath), Darren Hughes (Monaghan), Lee Keegan (Mayo), Ciaran Kilkenny (Dublin), Paddy McBrearty (Donegal), Jack McCaffrey (Dublin), Niall Morgan (Tyrone), Neil McGee (Donegal), Chrissy McKaigue (Derry), Ciaran McKeever (Armagh), Kevin McLoughlin (Mayo), Conor McManus (Monaghan), Ross Munnelly (Laois), Aidan Ó Shea (Mayo), Ciaran Sheehan (Cork), Michael Sheilds (Cork), Zach Tuohy (Carlton and Laois), Daithi Waters (Wexford).
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