By John Fogarty
VFL Selection 27 (1-5-6) Ireland 100 (9-11-13)
Colm O'Neill was Ireland's top scorer with 30 points as Ireland warmed up for their test against Australia next Saturday with a facile victory over a Victorian Football League selection in Sandringham Football Ground, Melbourne earlier today.
O'Neill found the net three times in the first quarter and added another three minutes after half-time. There were also goals for captain Michael Murphy (two), Sean Cavanagh, Pearse Hanley and Aidan O'Shea.
The only concerns for Paul Earley were a dead leg received by Darren Hughes in the third quarter after colliding with team-mate Colm Begley, and there was also the matter of losing the fourth quarter to the VFL selection, 11 points to 13.
Ireland led by a massive 25 points after the first quarter (31-6), O'Neill and Murphy running riot in the full-forward line with Ross Munnelly impressing as a link player with them.
On several occasions, Earley's men elected to run the mark and caught their opponents unawares.
Hanley bagged his goal in the fifth minute of the second quarter to push the visitors into a 30-point lead while Roscommon's Cathal Cregg added two excellent overs to add to his opening three-pointer in the opening 18 minute period.
The VFL outfit could only muster two points in the second quarter and Ireland were 51 points to the good at the break, 59-8, after O'Shea, having moved into full-forward, claimed a mark but elected to run it and beat the goalkeeper.
Another 30 points were posted by Ireland in the third quarter. The first three of their scores were goals - Cavanagh, O'Neill and then Murphy punishing a defence that was all at sea.
Ahead 89 to 14 at the end of the quarter, the question was whether they would reach the 100-point mark. They eventually did in the last minute of action in the form of an O'Neill behind although it was the VFL men who outscored them at that stage largely thanks to an Adam Cockie goal.
Ireland will remain in Melbourne until Tuesday morning when they leave for Perth where their one-off test takes place in Patersons Stadium next Saturday.
Among the onlookers at the seaside venue was Tadhg Kennelly, who is an assistant coach to the Australians this year. They met up for the first time in Sydney today.
Scorers for Ireland: C O'Neill (4-1-3) 30; M Murphy (2-1-4) 19; A O'Shea (1-3-1) 16; C Cregg (0-3-1) 10; S Cavanagh (1-1-0) 9; P Hanley (1-0-0) 6; R Munnelly (0-1-2) 5; C Boyle (0-1-0) 3; D Hughes (0-0-1) 1; D Moran (0-0-1) 1.
Scorers for VFL: A Cockie (1-1-0) 9; L Featherstone (0-1-1) 4; S Clouston (0-1-1) 4; J Bolton (0-1-0) 3; T Pinwill (0-1-0) 3; N Rippon (0-0-1) 1, T O'Sullivan (0-0-1) 1, J Owen (0-0-1) 1, B Davies (0-0-1) 1.
IRELAND: 18. N Morgan (Tyrone); 11. C McDonald (Tipperary), 12. N McGee (Donegal), 2. C Boyle (Mayo); 9. L Keegan (Mayo), 10. J McCarthy (Dublin), 14. K McKernan (Down); 25. A Walsh (Cork), 3. S Cavanagh (Tyrone); 4. C Cregg (Roscommon), 1. C Begley (Laois), 7. P Hanley (Mayo, Brisbane Lions); 21. C O'Neill (Cork), 20. M Murphy (Donegal), 19. R Munnelly (Laois).
Interchanges: 5. M Donnelly (Tyrone), 6. F Hanley (Galway), 8. D Hughes (Monaghan), 15. K McLoughlin (Mayo), 17. D Moran (Kerry), 22. P O'Neill (Kildare), 23. P O'Rourke (Meath), 24. A O'Shea (Mayo).
VFL SELECTION (from): S Sherlock, B Cavarra, A Saad, T O'Sullivan, C Lockwood, N Rippon, T Paule, B Smithwick, T Gribble, A Marcon, B Mahon, L Tynan, J Bolton, J Geary, B Jolley, A Cockie, M Cook, N Newman, S Clouston, L Featherstone, J Magner, B Davies, J Owen, T Pinwill, E Panozza.