Aussies hand Ireland a roasting

Australia 100 (2-27-7) Ireland 64 (3-11-13)

Australia 100 (2-27-7) Ireland 64 (3-11-13)

Pete McGrath's Ireland side were served up an International Rules roasting by Australia in today's first Test as the hosts tallied up a record win at Perth's Subiaco Oval.

The pumped-up Aussies gained full revenge for last year's 50-point aggregate Series loss in Dublin, scoring two goals, 27 overs and 11 behinds in a sizzling display of accurate shooting and strong running.

The Irish, who managed goals from Benny Coulter (2) and Sean Cavanagh, allied to 11 overs and 13 behinds, have the unenviable task of overhauling a 36-point margin in Melbourne next week thanks to today's rudderless performance in front of 39,098 spectators.

It was a record-breaking victory for Kevin Sheedy's men - they notched the highest score in a single Test since Ireland mustered 80 back in 1984, their biggest winning margin in a Test since 1987 (25 points) and handed Ireland their heaviest Test defeat since the hybrid game came into being.

From the off, McGrath's side, which included a full-forward line of Owen Mulligan, team captain Padraic Joyce and Matty Forde, were up against it.

The Aussies landed eight overs - just one less than their tally at the end of the first Test twelve months ago - in the opening quarter to lead 25-15.

Stephen O'Neill, Forde, Ciaran McDonald and Coulter chipped in for Ireland's overs, while Down goalkeeper Mickey McVeigh was forced to save well from Aaron Davey when a three-man break on 18 minutes created the game's first goal chance.

Armagh's Ronan Clarke, a Series debutant, kept the visitors in the hunt in the second quarter as he came on to slot over a hat-trick of overs, but still Australia's potency in front of goal had them 46-29 in front at half-time.

Davey and Luke Hodge struck overs before Essendon's Andrew Lovett latched onto a centre from the left wing to fist and goal low past McVeigh on 32 minutes.

The Irish could muster little in response as they looked rudderless - debutants Colm Cooper and Michael Meehan had little impact and skipper Joyce, so often the men in green's top scorer, was being held at bay.

Only Coulter and Clarke offered inspiration up front and Tyrone midfielder Sean Cavanagh too in the latter stages.

The Aussies thundered even further ahead in the third quarter, in which they outscored the Cormac McAnallen Cup holders by 30 points to seven.

Ireland's only joy in what is traditionally known as "the championship quarter" came 12 minutes in when Coulter beat beanpole 'keeper Dustin Fletcher to punch a high Brian Dooher centre to the Aussie net.

The Aussies had lost Russell Robertson to a yellow card before that but they kept the scoreboard ticking over. They ended the quarter on a high after an over from Tadhg Kennelly's Sydney team mate Amon Buchanan, Aussie co-captain Chris Johnson managed to convert a 60th-minute penalty, awarded for a foul by Anthony Lynch on Kepler Bradley.

It did not seem to matter to referee Matthew James that by the Rules rulebook, the fouled player Bradley should have taken the spot kick.

Now 40 points adrift at 76-36, and with the Series looking increasingly out of reach, Ireland were left just playing for pride and there were ironic cheers when, early on in the fourth quarter, Cavanagh swept over Ireland's first three-pointer since the second quarter.

Cavanagh tagged on a free and Clarke a brace of behinds as the Irish at least won the final quarter 28-24 - but not before Cork's Graham Canty was yellow-carded for getting involved in some fisticuffs.

The Irish goals in the final quarter came from Mourne man Coulter, who finished off a clever Clarke handpass high to the net 12 minutes in, and Cavanagh, a target recently for the Brisbane Lions, who rounded off the scoring in the closing seconds with a well-taken goal and behind.

Irish manager McGrath admitted afterwards: "Over the eighty minutes, it was a very harrowing experience to watch. I suppose it's been my worst night in football.

"The series may be out of our reach, but we've at least got to get our heads right and morale back up for next week in Melbourne."

FIRST TEST SCORERS -

Ireland: Mickey McVeigh (Down); Sean Og O hAilipin (Cork), Graham Canty (Cork), Tomas O Se (Kerry); Ciaran McManus (Offaly), Tom Kelly (Laois), Bryan Cullen (Dublin); Ciaran McDonald (Mayo) (4), Sean Cavanagh (Tyrone) (13); Stephen O’Neill (Tyrone) (9), Benny Coulter (Down) (18), Brian Dooher (Tyrone); Owen Mulligan (Tyrone), Padraic Joyce (Galway) (capt) (1), Matty Forde (Wexford) (3).

Subs used - Michael Meehan (Galway), Brian McGuigan (Tyrone), Eoin Brosnan (Kerry) (1), Anthony Lynch (Cork), David Heaney (Mayo), Ronan Clarke (Armagh) (14), Colm Cooper (Kerry) (1), Sean Martin Lockart (Derry).

Australia: D Fletcher; L Gilbee (4) D Millburn, B Delideo; D Morris, C Newman (3), M Lappin (3); B Harvey (3), N Davis (9); L Hodge (9), C Ciaracusa (3), N Eagleton (3); A Davey (6), C Johnson (co-capt) (9) R O’Keefe (8). Subs used - A Lovett (15), R Robertson (2), K Bradley, S Grant (10), T Croad (9), K Black, A McLeod (co-capt), E Buchanan (4).

Referees: M James (Aus), D Coldrick (Ire)

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