Australia regained the International Rules Series title on Saturday November 22 after seeing off a late comeback from their Irish counterparts.
Paul Earley’s side struggled to keep up with the Aussies for the first half, scoring only one point in the first quarter, and went in trailing 35-7 at half time.
“Australia were incredibly accurate in the first quarter – I think they had nine shots at goal and hit seven overs. We were uncharacteristically wild with our kicking and we didn’t hit our targets up front which we had worked on all week,” Earley said in the post-match press conference.
“Outside of that first quarter, we actually won the game. We changed it in the second half, pushed up and went man to man, adapted our system and were much more competitive,” he added.
Ireland did indeed rally in the third quarter, putting on an exceptional performance by dominating midfield and keeping the Australian side under immense pressure. Monaghan’s Darren Hughes got Ireland’s first goal of the game in the sixth minute of the second half, which helped cut the deficit to 41-14.
By the end of the third quarter, Ireland had cut the gap to 16, with Man of the Match Conor McManus and fellow Ulster men Darren Hughes and Mattie Donnelly leading the Irish charge with some superb scores.
The luck of the Irish was with this group of players when Australia’s Nick Smith struck the ball into his own net earning Ireland six points with only four minutes left in the game.
McManus then scored his fourth over of the game to bring Ireland back to within 10 points, but it was not to be, as the die had already been cast and the home side held on to win a fiercely fought contest.
The match – and indeed the way in which the end result panned out – was just what this hybrid series needed, as Ireland had come out on top in the last four meetings. The competitive nature of the tie showed that this traditional fixture does have a future.
Following the sell-out attendance of 38,262 in Patersons Stadium, Perth, the series seems set to return to Irish soil in 2015 with a provision in place for Australia to travel to Croke Park in November of next year. There was a visibly large attendance of Irish immigrants at the match too.
“It meant so much to so many Irish people. The game was excellent – sporting, hard and fair. We needed a good game and we got that. It put International Rules back on track, which was clearly needed. It’s easier to go back to Central Council now and make a case (for the series to continue),” said Paraic Duffy, GAA Director-General.
Many of the Irish squad who travelled Down Under will be re-packing their bags for the All Star’s trip to Boston which takes place at the end of November 2014.