Like his team-mates, Seán Cavanagh would have dearly loved another crack at Australia. For that reason, among others, he believes the two-test format must return.
“Probably the most disappointing thing is that in previous series, we would have had another chance to go to Melbourne and compete. We probably would have improved in the second test, the travelling team usually do.
“It’s just disappointing that it all ends here.”
They may not have won the game but Ireland certainly played no small part in saving the series with their second-half fightback. “It’s nice to know that future players will have the chance to represent their country. If you ask every Irish player in the changing room, they will say it is one of their top achievements in GAA, particularly some of the guys from the lesser counties. It is an opportunity to showcase themselves and play with the very best.
“Everybody enjoyed the experience, especially with the comeback in the second half but the result is disappointing. A second test in three or four days would have been another great contest.”
Cavanagh, one of Ireland’s better players, with the most disposals, admitted the opening two quarters were embarrassing for Ireland when he believed his side panicked.
“At least we resumed some pride in GAA because at half-time, we were 30 points down and playing like we had never seen a round ball before. It didn’t look good. It brought me back to 2005 out here, it just looked like we were going to get whitewashed. We went out in the first quarter with a game plan to try and compete but we were panicky in possession. We almost looked fearful at times of playing our own game. I think at times we tried to compete with the Aussies in their game.
“At half-time we said: ‘There’s nothing to lose here, we’ll throw caution to the wind, we’ll play Gaelic football, we’ll play what we’re good at.’ We supported the ball, we settled down in our kicking and things started to work.”
Paddy O’Rourke succinctly summed up where the players’ mindsets was after a defeat which ironically saved the hybrid game.
“It’ll probably be a consolation for the GAA that the series has a future. For us, the what ifs and if only, it’s no good in a one-off series. A pat on the back is only three or four inches from a kick up the hole and that’s what we got.”
Like Cavanagh, he is adamant the two-test format must return. “For it to succeed and for players to come along and get this great opportunity, it has to go back to two games. There has to be a buy-in. The Ireland team always put out their best players who always want to play for Ireland because it’s our only chance as GAA players to pull on an Ireland jersey.
“We’re never going to be a Robbie Keane or a Paul O’Connell. To represent your country is a huge honour at any level so every GAA player wants to play in the International Rules. You can see tonight that when the Aussies put out a good team, they’re a match for us, they were better than us.”
He wouldn’t mind it being staged in the US either. “I think to promote the game, the Aussies are on about promoting their game across the world. So if we got a chance to go to New York or Hong Kong or somewhere, we’d definitely take it.”
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