Easy for Ireland as Aussies throw in towel

IRELAND series victories are usually greeted with more fanfare but sadly their excellence has to share the billing with just how wretched their opponents were.

This second Test saw an improvement from the hosts on what they mustered in Melbourne but then anything would have been better than that turgid display.

But then, following on from last week, more records were smashed yesterday, and for all the wrong reasons on Australia’s part.

Anthony Tohill’s side will fly back next week having inflicted the biggest series drubbing in the two-Test history of the hybrid game.

The 12,545 attendance at the Metricon Stadium — which appeared generous when looking at the vast amount of vacant seats in the venue — was the worst since the series recommenced after a 14-year gap in 1998.

The Australians’ 29 points was two points less than the previous worst Test score and also the first time a side failed to break the 30-point mark.

Those damning statistics mightn’t have been fasted around their necks had they actually attempted to play some football in the third quarter and not gone about throwing their weight.

Instead, they finished that 18-minute period with just one behind and three yellow cards to their name.

Seemingly resigned to losing the Test after Leighton Glynn’s second quarter goal put Ireland 12 points ahead, they resorted to some base tactics.

Ireland also had three men sin-binned for 10 minutes, Finian Hanley and Ciarán McKeever’s yellow cards coming in the second quarter, but both looked excessive calls by the officials.

On several occasions, it was the Australians who were the aggressors with Ireland, as McKeever forecasted earlier in the week, refusing to back down.

Australia’s intentions to intimidate were obvious from the outset with captain Brad Green pulling down his opposite number Stephen Cluxton to the ground in the first quarter after the goalkeeper had cleared his lines.

It was unnecessary and it was futile but then so many of the incidents in the ugly third quarter were as well.

Like last week, Green finished Australia’s top scorers with 10 — two overs and four behinds — but aside from Zac Smith, he had little in the way of help in attack.

Ireland, on the other hand, had a much better spread, and after a slow start when they trailed by seven points (8-1) after eight minutes, they found their scoring boots again.

Totting up just five behinds for the second week in a row, they again won all four quarters, finishing the opening one with four unanswered overs to lead 12-8.

The last two of those three-pointers came from Steven McDonnell who, in his last Test appearance, was making the most of some foolish Australian tackling without the ball.

He made them pay again in the second quarter as Ireland opened up a 10-point gap before a Green behind and a Smith over pegged it back to six.

But then came Glynn’s goal, following Michael Murphy’s palm down to McDonnell who spotted the Wicklow forward behind the Australian cover.

Glynn appeared to have taken too much out of it but he still had the wherewithal to solo around Matt Suckling and trickle the ball into the net.

The goal pushed Ireland 12 points ahead and they went in at the break one less better (34-23) with Tadhg Kennelly floating an over after Smith had limited some of the damage with a couple of overs himself.

A forgettable third quarter followed in which, after Murphy had been yellow-carded just before half-time, another five players were sin-binned and a measly eight points were scored.

A Green behind was Australia’s only response to scores from Kerry’s Kieran Donaghy and Tommy Walsh, which extended Ireland’s lead to 17 points (41-24).

Football returned in the fourth quarter but Ireland contributed most of it. Murphy, Walsh with his third over in another fine display and Eamonn Callaghan rounded off the scoring for the visitors.

Ben McGlynn’s three-pointer with four minutes left to play was Australia’s first over in 35 minutes, a damning statistic of their scoring capabilities. And so it was left to Cluxton and McKeever to accept the Cormac McAnallen trophy with the latter fulfilling the acceptance speech due to the goalkeeper’s spotlight shyness.

A bizarre sight indeed, but then this was a series that had just about everything from an Ireland perspective and nothing from an Australian one.

Scorers for Ireland: S McDonnell, T Walsh 9 each (0-3-0); L Glynn (1-0-1), K Donaghy, M Murphy 7 (0-2-1) each; T Kennelly, J McMahon, E Callaghan 3 each (0-1-0); Z Tuohy, K McKernan 1 each (0-0-1).

Inter-changes: 3. E Bolton, 4. E Cadogan, 5. E Callaghan, 8. F Hanley, 11. D Hughes, 13. P Kelly, 22. B Murphy, 30. A Walsh.

Yellow cards: M Murphy, F Hanley, C McKeever.

Scorers for Australia: B Green 10 (0-2-4); Z Smith 9 (0-3-0); M Robinson 4 (0-1-1); B McGlynn 3 (0-1-0); S Milne, A Swallow, J Trengrove 1 each (0-0-1).

Inter-changes: 3. L Shiels, 10. J Trengrove, 13. T McKenzie, 14. C Ward, 15. R Gray, 16 R Nahas, 26 R Douglas, 29 E Wood.

Yellow cards: A Monfries, M Nicoski, R Gray.

Referees: David Coldrick (Meath), Ray Chamberlain (Australia).

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