Ireland win first test

Ireland started strongly in their quest to deny Australia a three-in-a-row of International Rules Series successes, by carving out a hard-earned 45-44 victory before a 35,153 attendance at the Subiaco Oval in Perth.

Sean Boylan's Ireland side had opened up a 17-point lead four minutes into the final quarter, but a strong finish by the Australians saw the tourists' advantage whittled away.

In what was Ireland's first win at the Perth venue, third-quarter goals from Sean Cavanagh and Steven McDonnell provided the bedrock for the victory.

A keenly contested affair, the game was played in a sporting manner and produced just one yellow card, which resulted in the sin-binning of Australia's Campbell Brown in the final quarter.

Australia began sluggishly as Ireland romped to a 9-1 first-quarter lead, albeit with team captain Sean Cavanagh kicking his side's only over.

Down's Benny Coulter, Westmeath's John Keane, Leighton Glynn of Wicklow and Tyrone duo Joe McMahon and Sean Cavanagh were among the Irish players who came to the fore.

Ireland attacked well off the throw-in with Colm Begley placing Coulter for a mark, but the Down ace watched on with disappointment as his effort came off the post.

The visitors' disappointment was short-lived, with Steven McDonnell getting his side on the scoresheet after 36 seconds with a behind.

The first goal chance of the contest arrived two minutes later, when Michael Osbourne burst through the Ireland rearguard to feed the inrushing Brent Harvey.

However, team captain Harvey's goal effort was denied after debutant David Gallagher made an excellent save between the posts.

Australia continued to press hard, and were rewarded in the sixth minute with a behind from Daniel Motlop, but the hosts failed to score again until the second quarter as Ireland once again got on top.

An over from Cavanagh and and behinds from Dublin's Bryan Cullen and Meath man Kevin Reilly ensured Ireland broke into a 6-1 lead by the 12th minute.

But Australia failed to give up, with Matt Campbell among their most dangerous players.

The Kangaroos star burst forward to be fouled by Westmeath's John Keane in the small square, gaining his side a 13th-minute penalty.

However, Campbell's penalty kick was a poorly struck effort and easily saved by Gallagher.

Ireland continued to tag on scores with Joe McMahon, Michael Meehan and Cavanagh all claiming further behinds.

Nevertheless, Boylan and his management team will certainly have been disappointed with Ireland's poor shooting - they registered just one 'point' in the opening 18 minutes.

Australia began the second quarter at blistering pace, with Campbell scoring their first 'over' within two minutes of the restart.

In a hard-hitting quarter, Australia settled well and exerted their sudden dominance on the scoresheet.

But Ireland soon had the ball in the net at the other end. Paddy Bradley sent over a three-pointer before a poor kick-out was quickly capitalised upon by Cavanagh.

The Tyrone powerhouse helped kick start a move which finished with the first goal of the contest.

Cavanagh played the ball into the corner, for Joe McMahon to feed the unmarked Glynn and the Wicklow man, in his first International Rules test, had no hesitation in rifling the ball past Australian goalkeeper Nathan Bock.

This six-pointer propelled Ireland into a comfortable 14-point lead, but disappointingly the advantage was sliced away by the half-time break, as Australia fired over from all angles.

Campbell, Leigh Montagna and Jared Brennan all claimed behinds, before Campbell, Marc Murphy and Scott Thompson fired over three-pointers to cut the gap to just two points.

The second quarter was certainly a lot livelier than the first, and Thompson once again showed that he has excellently adopted to the round ball.

His second over in quick succession saw Australia take the lead for the first time, holding a 19-18 buffer as the break approached.

A late behind from Armagh's Steven McDonnell, his second of the contest, ensured the sides were level at the interval at 19 points apiece.

Despite losing John Miskella through injury in the third quarter, the Irish played some of their best football during this period with Cavanagh and McDonnell both grabbing well-worked goals.

Kieran Donaghy was instrumental in Ireland taking a nine-point lead after just four minutes of the third quarter.

Firstly, the big Kerry man opened his scoring account, after converting an over following a mark, and then he was involved in Cavanagh's 40th-minute goal.

A quickly taken kick-out was capitalised upon by a hungry Irish attack, Glynn scooped the ball into space and Donaghy had great vision to flick the ball across to footballer of the year Cavanagh.

The unmarked Tyrone ace brilliantly slammed the ball past Bock and to the back of the Australia net to give his side a 28-19 lead.

Glynn and Michael Firrato exchanged behinds, while Cavanagh and Harvey exchanged overs to maintain a nine-point gap, with seven minutes remaining in the quarter.

Wexford's Ciaran Lyng got his debut in an Ireland jersey off to a great start, with a well-taken over in the 13th minute.

But Ireland were living dangerously at the back and although Matt Campbell sneaked a behind a minute later, a six-point goal opportunity was certainly on the cards.

It was Ireland who capitalised with a goal. McDonnell was on target, following poor defending by Australia.

Coulter sent a pass across from the right wing before McDonnell took advantage of the defensive mix-up to open up a 17-point gap.

However, the Aussies gained momentum in injury-time with a Roger Hayden behind and a Marc Murphy over leaving the score at 41-28 as the game entered the final quarter.

The hosts upped the ante in the final quarter, and although reduced to 14-men following Brown's frontal charge on Finian Hanley, Mick Malthouse's men showed great persistence.

Ireland began the fourth quarter brightly with a Michael Meehan behind.

Glynn brought his tally to ten points, following his first over, as the tourists opened up a 45-28 lead.

But Australia's admirable fitness and physicality shone through, and with a Jared Brennan behind and overs from Murphy (2), Montagna, Michael Osbourne and David Rodan, just a point separated the sides with four minutes to go.

Australia fought hard for the equalising score, but they failed to make use of a late 45-metre kick as Boylan's side hung on to take a one-point lead into next week's second Test in Melbourne.

Scorers for Australia: Marc Murphy (0-4-0) 12, Matt Campbell (0-2-2) 8, Scott Thompson (0-2-0) 6, Leigh Montagna (0-1-1) 4, Brent Harvey (0-1-0), Michael Osbourne (0-1-0), David Rodan (0-1-0) 3 each, Jared Brennan (0-0-2) 2, Daniel Motlop (0-0-1), Michael Firrito (0-0-1), Roger Hayden (0-0-1) 1 each

Scorers for Ireland: Sean Cavanagh (1-2-1) 13, Leighton Glynn (1-1-1) 10, Steven McDonnell (1-0-2) 8, Kieran Donaghy (0-1-0), Ciaran Lyng (0-1-0), Paddy Bradley (0-1-0) 3 each, Michael Meehan (0-0-2) 2, Bryan Cullen (0-0-1), Kevin Reilly (0-0-1), Joe McMahon (0-0-1) 1 each.

AUSTRALIA: Nathan Bock; Michael Firrito, Brad Sewell, Campbell Brown; Ryan Crowley, Drew Petrie, Adam Selwood; Brent Harvey (capt), Scott Thompson; Scott Pendlebury, Daniel Motlop, David Rodan; Michael Osborne, Shaun Burgoyne, Matt Campbell.

Interchange players: Matthew Boyd, Jared Brennan, Nathan Foley, Roger Hayden, Leigh Montagna, Marc Murphy, Max Rooke, Kade Simpson, Dale Thomas, Daniel Wells.

IRELAND: David Gallagher; Aidan O'Mahony, Finian Hanley, John Keane; Bryan Cullen, Kevin Reilly, Ciaran McKeever; Graham Canty, Colm Begley; Enda McGinley, Sean Cavanagh (capt), Joe McMahon; Steven McDonnell, Kieran Donaghy, Benny Coulter.

Interchange players: Aaron Kernan, Tom Parsons, Michael Meehan, John Miskella, Pearse O'Neill, Paddy Bradley, Justin McMahon, Leighton Glynn, Ciaran Lyng.

Referees: Steve McBurney (Australia), Pat McEnaney (Monaghan)

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