Australians win 'physical' Rules game

Australia comfortably claimed the 2005 International Rules Series and the Cormac McAnallen Cup today as Pete McGrath's Ireland side were soundly beaten 63-42 in a hard-edged second Test in Melbourne.

Australia 63 (0-18-9) (163) Ireland 42 (0-11-9) (106), Telstra Dome, Melbourne

Australia comfortably claimed the 2005 International Rules Series and the Cormac McAnallen Cup today as Pete McGrath's Ireland side were soundly beaten 63-42 in a hard-edged second Test in Melbourne.

Some 45,428 spectators paid into the Telstra Dome to watch Kevin Sheedy's side earn a 163-106 aggregate victory which completely turned the tables on the Irish - the landslide 50-point winners of twelve months ago.

With the Series effectively decided by last Friday's 36-point Perth pummelling, Ireland had only pride to play for and winning on the night was manager McGrath's only "objective".

The Australians adopted an overtly-physical approach, which bordered on thuggery at times, and it came to a head in the second quarter when the hosts' co-captain Chris Johnson was red-carded for an appalling high-arm tackle on Tyrone's Philip Jordan.

Cork referee Michael Collins was left with little option but to send off the burly Brisbane Lion, who laid punches on Matty Forde and Ciaran McManus while Jordan checked if his head was still attached.

The Aussies' top scorer Ryan O'Keefe, who landed four overs, was fortunate to stay on the field when he instigated a punch-up in the early minutes of the third quarter.

Hawthorn's Trent Croad was singled out for a yellow card but O'Keefe, a team mate of Tadhg Kennelly's at Sydney, was let off the hook.

The football never hit the heights of the first Test as an ugly, physical encounter, which harked back to the dark days of the 1980s dust-ups Down Under, ensued.

Team captain Padraic Joyce, Sean Cavanagh and newcomers Dessie Dolan and Ross Munnelly bagged overs in the first quarter for a 13-11 lead for the Irish, who started Cork defender Graham Canty at midfield.

Goals were vital for the visitors but they never came as Aussie 'keeper Dustin Fletcher saved twice from Cavanagh in the first and third quarters.

Sheedy's men cranked it up a gear in the second quarter. Nick Davis (2), O'Keefe and Aaron Davey landed overs before Johnson was sent-off, 12 minutes in. It made little difference as in the hybrid game, teams can bring on another player for a red card offence.

The Aussies pushed on with three-pointers from O'Keefe and Andrew Lovett to stretch into a 31-14 lead before Munnelly struck an over - Ireland's only one of the second quarter - and a late behind to reduce the gap to 13 points.

Three-pointers from Ronan Clarke, Cavanagh and McManus helped squeeze that down to nine - 40-31 - by the third quarter's hooter, but three overs in the space of two minutes in the third quarter really decided the Test.

The elusive Lovett bagged two of them with Daniel Giansiracusa getting the other for a 52-36 buffer. At that stage, Ireland had thrown caution to the wind with Dublin wing-back Bryan Cullen put in goal and he reacted well on 75 minutes to deny an Aaron Davey shot.

At the other end, Mayo's Ciaran McDonald sliced a wonderful score off the outside of his boot and Offaly midfielder Ciaran McManus struck from a long range free but the night and the Series was always Australia's.

Laois defender Tom Kelly, who put in another tireless display in his sixth International Rules game, was named Irish player of the Series at the trophy presentation afterwards.

More in this section

Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
Home Delivery
logo-ie

HOME DELIVERY SERVICE

Have the Irish Examiner delivered to your door. No delivery charge. Just pay the cover price.