They proved far too strong for a UCC/CIT combination before 2,867 patrons who attended, curious to witness a novel occasion under floodlights on the Boreenmanna Road.
They experienced a lopsided encounter, but it was a useful exercise for Mick Malthouse’s charges in growing accustomed to playing with a round ball ahead of their tussles with Anthony Tohill’s men over the coming weekends.
The game marked the first International Rules tie to be played on Leeside soil since the first test in 1984.
That day was marred by scenes of violence, but a repeat of that was never on the cards last night as the gulf between the teams removed the intensity from the exchanges.
Australia’s familiarity with executing the tackle gave them a definite edge over the UCC-CIT players, who were adjusting to the hybrid game for the first time.
Australia’s mobility and fitness levels were also superior but that wasn’t a fair comparison considering the hectic schedule some of the college’s players have had to endure recently.
For example three days after assisting Dr Crokes to Kerry county championship glory, Johnny Buckley and Daithí Casey were facing into an onslaught of motivated AFL players.
The UCC/CIT teamlist contained one player with experience of the sport, no. 29 Sean Óg O hAilpín, but they were bereft of his presence on the pitch as he was unavailable on the night.
The initial signs were encouraging for the home side as Australia’s early shooting was erratic but they quickly attuned their radar in front of goal. Travis Varcoe had the honour of claiming the first score on the night with an over in the 2nd minute and Brad Greene followed up by picking off a couple of neat overs.
UCC/CIT struggled to work the ball upfield but in a rare foray forward Mark Collins was alert enough to intercept a pass to grab a behind.
Yet Australia’s dominance was expressed in the form of a 19-1 lead at the close of the first quarter.
The visitors stepped up the tempo in the second quarter with Richmond player Jack Riewoldt in sterling form and he billowed the net for the first goal of the night in the 28th minute. Greene, Sam Gilbert and captain Adam Goodes kept the scoreboard ticking over and by the interval, Australia were out of sight with a 54-1 advantage.
The third-level combination admirably ploughed on and enjoyed their best spell in the third quarter. Paul Honohan split the post for their first over of the night in the 41st minute, and Ciaran Sheehan, Hugh Curran, Colm O’Neill and Andrew O’Brien inked their names on the scoresheet thereafter. UCC/CIT’s play was achieving greater fluency at this juncture and the supporters chilling in the night air had something to cheer about.
But by the close of the third quarter, Australia were still in control as they possessed a 76-12 advantage. The closing stages saw Australia reassert their authority, yet CIT goalkeeper Brian Walsh did repel them with a series of super saves.
The waves of Australian attacks finally told late on as Brad Greene raised two green flags in the dying embers to leave him as top scorer on the night with a personal total of 22.
Scorers for Australia: B Greene 22; J Riewoldt 16; A Goodes 14; E Betts 11; T Varcoe, S Gilbert, B Gibbs, T Banfield 6 each; K Jack, P Dangerfield 4 each; L Pickam, K Simpson, 3 each; L Montagna 2; D Swan, M Boyd 1 each.
UCC/CIT: C Sheehan, P Honohan, H Curran 3 each; M Collins, A O’Brien, C Sheehan 1 each.
AUSTRALIA: T Banfield, E Betts, M Boyd, D Cross, P Dangerfield, P Duffield, J Frawley, B Gibbs, S Gilbert, T Goldsack, A Goodes, L Montagna, J Riewoldt, K Simpson, D Swan, T Varcoe, D Wojcinski, J McVeigh, G Ibbotson, K Jack, B Greene, L Pickam.
UCC/CIT: K O’Halloran, B Walsh, D Óg O’Donovan, J O’Sullivan, P Crowley, A Greaney, S O’Donoghue, C O’Driscoll, R Power, K O’Driscoll, A Walsh, P O’Flynn, S O’Hare, A O’Sullivan, BJ Walsh, C O’Neill, M Collins, P Honohan, L Jennings, J Buckley, D Casey, S Kiely, J Fitzpatrick, C Sheehan, H Curran, A O’Brien, JB Spillane.
Referees: D Coldrick (Ireland), P McEnaney (Ireland), B Rosebury (Australia).