The International Rules series scheduled to take place later this year has been deferred because the Australian Football League cannot afford to tour.

The Australian Football League has informed the GAA that due to economic conditions in Australia, they will not be travelling to Ireland for the series in October.

The series was due to have comprised two Tests on successive weekends with the first taking place in Limerick on October 24 and the second in Croke Park on October 31.

GAA President Christy Cooney and Ireland's International Rules team manager Sean Boylan both expressed their disappointment at the AFL's decision.

Mr Cooney said: 'I suppose it's especially disappointing given that we are celebrating our 125th anniversary.

'But we have been in contact with the AFL over the past while and completely understand their situation. We have a written commitment from them that they will come to Ireland for the series in 2010, and the Gaelic Grounds and Croke Park will host those two games.'

Ireland manager Sean Boylan said that the deferral is a shame given the success of last winter's matches.

He said: 'It's very disappointing. There was such a great buzz created by last year's series that it would have been great to have the Aussies back in Ireland this year.'

The series took a financial hit in January this year when Coca Cola withdrew as sponsors of the Ireland team.

The cancellation of the series is also bad news for the economy. Limerick, scheduled to hold the opening Test in late October, had expected €10 million to be brought into the local economy by the match, although the deferred matches will be played at the same venues in 2010 as the cancelled 2009 games were meant to have taken place at.

The series has been be no stranger to controversy number of years with discipline and player recruitment by Australian agents and clubs both proving divisive in recent years.

Tyrone manager Mickey Harte has been a strong critic of the series and has in the past urged the GAA to cut all ties with Australian Football League.

However, it has been very popular with many current players, with Tyrone star Seán Cavanagh, who captained Ireland to victory in the 2008 series in Australia, among its high profile supporters.