INTERNATIONAL RULES SECOND TEST:
AUSTRALIA 29 (0-7-8) IRELAND 50 (1-13-5), Metricon Stadium, Gold Coast (Ireland won the Series on an aggregate score of 130-65)
Ireland wrapped up a facile International Series win by outscoring Australia in what was a competitive but uneventful second Test on the Gold Coast, watched by a crowd of just 12,545.
Trailing by 44 points from the first Test, the Australians were much more physical in their approach this week and it boiled over at times - there were five yellow cards awarded in the third quarter alone.
Finian Hanley and Ciaran McKeever received their marching orders for incidents seemingly initiated by Australian foul play, while Angus Monfries saw yellow for the hosts.
Over the entire four quarters, three players from each side were yellow carded. Michael Murphy was sent to the sideline before the interval for clashing with Zac Smith.
Australia tried to outmuscle Anthony Tohill’s men in the physical exchanges, often with off-the-ball challenges, but Ireland were up to the task and the Australians lacked the footballing intelligence to hurt them on the scoreboard.
A telling statistic is the fact that Rodney Eade’s side only scored a single over and three behinds - six points - in the final 24 minutes of the match.
Tohill’s charges had really done the hard work last week in Melbourne and the aggregate margin from the Series of 65 points was the biggest ever in the two-match event’s history.
The hammering the ill-prepared Australians took and the poor crowds at both Tests Down Under will only add to the clamour for these tours to be ended.
The future of hybrid game lies in the hands of the GAA and AFL administrators but speaking at the trophy presentation both McKeever and Australian captain Brad Green gave their backing for the Series to continue into the future.
There was a much harder edge to this concluding clash at the Metricon Stadium. Mitch Robinson, in particular, was keen to show his aggression and he let his feet do the talking when firing the hosts into a 5-1 lead. Their captain Green followed up with another over.
But Ireland, who had struggled for early possession, got into their stride before the hooter. Kevin McKernan hit a behind from long range and Kieran Donaghy soared to claim a mark and tap over three points.
Tadhg Kennelly had a goal chance saved by Matthew Suckling, his toe-poked effort not causing the Australian goalkeeper too much trouble.
Suckling’s opposite number, the Irish captain Stephen Cluxton, built a number of attacks with clever kick-outs and Steven McDonnell, a veteran of the hybrid game, made sure the tourists finished the first quarter on top.
He outfoxed Shaun Grigg for a free that he popped over the crossbar and a fully-recovered Emmet Bolton fed the ball in for McDonnell to take a mark and land his second three-pointer.
Ireland’s 12-8 lead was added to by Joe McMahon, early in the second quarter, but Green, arguably the Australians’ best kicker, kept the gap at four.
Green soon made it 15-12 before the Irish cranked up their efforts again. Michael Murphy was afforded too much space to launch over a skyscraper score and the ever ready McDonnell kicked an over after a high challenge on him by Easton Wood.
Leighton Glynn miscued a shot for a behind but, after Australian scores from Green and Zac Smith, the Wicklow man grabbed the game’s only goal.
There were 13 minutes on the clock when Glynn struck. Great work in the air by Murphy and a pinpoint through ball from McDonnell found an unmarked Glynn and his smart finish flew past Suckling into the net.
The high-fielding Smith increased his influence with a couple of marks and overs, followed by a wayward kick from Jack Trengove which registered a behind.
Yet Ireland were able to keep the scoreboard ticking over despite failing to hit the heights of the first Test last week.
Tommy Walsh powered forward on a solo run and kicked three points and Tadhg Kennelly’s late mark and over gave the men in green a 34-23 buffer at half-time.
The third quarter was the most ill-tempered of the lot. Early marks and overs from Kerry duo Donaghy and Walsh effectively put the result beyond doubt at 40-23.
With the Australians clearly frustrated by a second successive defeat and Ireland keen for the final whistle, play rapidly disintegrated and tempers flared.
Green grabbed Finian Hanley in a headlock with both players on the ground but it was the Galway man who was shown a yellow card. Monfries followed him for getting involved in a scuffle.
There were behinds from Green and Donaghy before McKeever was given ten minutes off the pitch. However, a TV replay showed that the Armagh man had initially been fouled by an over eager Callan Ward.
Ward was involved again when he struck Joe McMahon in the air as the Tyrone man went to gather a high ball. No yellow card was issued and the hooter offered a welcome break for both sides, Ireland leading 41-24 at this stage.
The Irish were no angels either during this period, and the likes of Brendan Murphy and Kevin Reilly became embroiled in some unnecessary one-on-ones.
But three more overs in the final quarter finished out the scoring for Ireland - Michael Murphy, Tommy Walsh and Eamonn Callaghan, who clipped over the best of the lot from the right, all split the posts.
With their numerical advantage, Australia were seeing more of the ball and good use of possession created behinds for Green and Andrew Swallow and a well-taken over from Ben McGlynn.
Any particular needle between the sides quickly evaporated after full-time as the players shook hands and exchanged jerseys, before Cluxton and vice-captain McKeever accepted the Cormac McAnallen Cup to rubberstamp Ireland’s first Series success since 2008.
The durable Kennelly received the GAA medal for Ireland’s Player of the Series, while Geelong’s James Kelly was selected as the Jim Stynes medal winner as Australia’s best player.
Scorers - Australia 29 (0-7-8): Brad Green 10 (0-2-4), Zac Smith 9 (0-3-0), Mitch Robinson 4 (0-1-1), Ben McGlynn 3 (0-1-0), Stephen Milne 1 (0-0-1), Andrew Swallow 1 (0-0-1), Jack Trengove 1 (0-0-1)
Ireland 50 (1-13-5): Steven McDonnell 9 (0-3-0), Tommy Walsh 9 (0-3-0), Leighton Glynn 7 (1-0-1), Kieran Donaghy 7 (0-2-1), Michael Murphy 7 (0-2-1), Tadhg Kennelly 3 (0-1-0), Joe McMahon 3 (0-1-0), Eamonn Callaghan 3 (0-1-0), Kevin McKernan 1 (0-0-1), Zach Tuohy 1 (0-0-1)
AUSTRALIA: Matthew Suckling (Hawthorn), Richard Douglas (Adelaide Crows), James Frawley (Melbourne), Robbie Gray (Port Adelaide), Brad Green (Melbourne), Shaun Grigg (Richmond), James Kelly (Geelong Cats), Joel Patfull (Brisbane Lions), Ben McGlynn (Sydney Swans), Trent McKenzie (Gold Coast Suns), Stephen Milne (St Kilda), Angus Monfries (Essendon), Robin Nahas (Richmond), Mark Nicoski (West Coast), Mitch Robinson (Carlton), Liam Shiels (Hawthorn), Zac Smith (Gold Coast Suns), Andrew Swallow (North Melbourne), Jack Trengove (Melbourne), Bernie Vince (Adelaide Crows), Callan Ward (GWS Giants), David Wojcinski (Geelong Cats), Easton Wood (Western Bulldogs).
IRELAND: Stephen Cluxton (Dublin), Leighton Glynn (Wicklow), Brendan Murphy (Carlow), Colm Begley (Laois), Kevin Reilly (Meath), Neil McGee (Donegal), Michael Murphy (Donegal), Steven McDonnell (Armagh), Ciarán McKeever (Armagh), Kevin McKernan (Down), Joe McMahon (Tyrone), Darren Hughes (Monaghan), Finian Hanley (Galway), Eoin Cadogan (Cork), Aidan Walsh (Cork), Paddy Kelly (Cork), Eamonn Callaghan (Kildare), Kieran Donaghy (Kerry), Tommy Walsh (Kerry/St Kilda), Zach Touhy (Laois/Carlton), Tadhg Kennelly (Kerry/Sydney Swans), Pearce Hanley (Mayo/Brisbane Lions), Emmet Bolton (Kildare).
Umpires: Ray Chamberlain (Australia), David Coldrick (Meath)