Explainer: everything you need to know about the International Rules series

In theory, the International Rules series pits the GAA’s best footballers against the cream of the AFL’s Aussie Rules league in a “compromise rules” match.

The two-games series takes place twice every three years — once in Ireland and once in Australia — with the teams doing battle for the Cormac McAnallen Cup.

This 2013 Series kicks off with the first test in Cavan’s Kingspan Breffni Park tomorrow night (7pm). The second test is in Croke Park next Saturday, 26 October, also at 7pm.

Ireland are the defending champions following a 130-65 win in Australia in 2011.

Remind me how the rules work…

The scoring is the most confusing part. Once you’ve got a handle on that, you will be able to follow it.

The goal posts are different, combining the traditional GAA goal and two large posts with the two smaller posts used in Aussie Rules.

INPHO/James Crombie

A goal (in the net) is worth six points. An over (over the bar between the large posts) is worth three. A behind (between the small posts on either side of the goal) is worth one.

The scoreline is written in the format 1-6-12 (36), representing the total number of goals, overs, behinds and the cumulative score.

The winner is the team with the highest aggregate score at the end of the second test so even if Ireland win tomorrow night, they are by no means home and dry.

Anything else?

Well, yes. There are a number of rule changes from GAA.

It’s a 15-a-side game which lasts for 72 minutes, divided into four 18-minute quarters.

It is played with a round ball and on a rectangular pitch like GAA but, like Aussie Rules, players are allowed to tackle their opponent between the shoulder and thighs.

There are loads of other minor details but they are the most important ones to know.

Who’s on the Ireland team this year?

This is Ireland’s 23-man panel as named by manager Paul Earley this week:

Ireland: Michael Murphy (Donegal, c), Aidan Walsh (Cork, vc), Paddy O’ Rourke (Meath), Colm Begley (Laois), Colm Boyle (Mayo), Ciaran Byrne (Louth), Sean Cavanagh (Tyrone), Paul Conroy (Galway), Paul Flynn (Dublin), Finian Hanley (Galway), Lee Keegan (Mayo), Ciaran Kilkenny (Dublin), Paddy McBrearty (Donegal), Jack McCaffrey (Dublin), Neil McGee (Donegal), Chrissy McKaigue (Derry), Kevin McLoughlin (Mayo), Conor McManus (Monaghan), Ross Munnelly (Laois), Aidan O’Shea (Mayo), Ciarán Sheehan (Cork), Michael Shields (Cork), Zach Tuohy (Carlton & Laois).

Who have Australia got?

In the past Australia have selected their squad from the best of the AFL but this time around they are represented by the Indigenous All-Stars, a team of Indigenous Australians managed by Michael O’Loughlin.

Lance Franklin is the man to watch out for — he has just signed an AUS$10 million deal to move to the Sydney Swans.

Australia: Tony Armstrong (Sydney Swans), Dominic Barry (Melbourne), Eddie Betts (Carlton), Aaron Davey (Melbourne), Alwyn Davey (Essendon), Shaun Edwards (GWS), Jarod Harbrow (Gold Coast), Lance Franklin (Sydney Swans), Cameron Ellis-Yolmen (Adelaide), Josh Hill (West Coast), Leroy Jetta (Essendon), Lewis Jetta (Sydney Swans), Nathan Lovett-Murray (Essendon), Ash McGrath (Brisbane), Jake Neade (Port Adelaide), Steven Motlop (Geelong), Sharrod Wellingham (West Coast), Daniel Wells (North Melbourne), Chris Yarran (Carlton), Mathew Stokes (Geelong), Lindsay Thomas (North Melbourne).

Who is going to win?

If you trust the bookmakers, this is Australia’s series to lose. The visitors are 4/6 favourites while Ireland are 11/10.

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