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Australia denies Ireland

By Jennifer Witham 8:47 AM Sun 24 Oct, 2010

Australian players celebrate Todd Banfield's over in the first International Rules Test against Ireland


AUSTRALIA took a step towards regaining the Cormac McAnallen Cup defeating Ireland by seven points at Limerick's Pairc Na nGael Stadium in the first Test of the 2010 International Rules Series on Sunday morning.

The Australians pushed 20 points clear in the final quarter as a result of some accurate kicking but the Irish hit back with the only goal for the game through Bernard Brogan.

The six-pointer got the Irish well back in the contest but they were beaten by the clock with the Australians holding their nerve and withstanding a late surge, with Dustin Fletcher saving several attacks on goal as the crowd of over 30,000 got behind the home side.

Adam Goodes was brilliant for the visitors with four overs, Matthew Boyd exploded out of the blocks in the second quarter to end with 16 important touches while Paul Duffield, Garrick Ibbotson and Daniel Cross were significant.

Dane Swan recovered from his quiet practice match to lead the field with 33 touches while Liam Picken was hugely important in halting the effectiveness of Marty Clarke.

For Ireland, Sean Cavanagh was busy in attack and former Brisbane Lions and St Kilda player Colm Begley had 21 touches while Steven McDonnell booted three overs.

The game was all but over before Bernard Brogan booted the only goal for the game in the last quarter to get Ireland back within a respectable margin and with a chance of retaining the Cup in the decider next week.

The scores had been close for most of the first half but Australia managed to steal two overs with Eddie Betts and Todd Banfield converting as the second quarter ended. The combined six points gave the Australians an important five-point lead going into the second half.

Dustin Fletcher
made a few errors in the first half but settled to become Australia's most important player in the last quarter when he withstood an Irish bombardment.

Stephen Cluxton showed his confidence with several forays up the field. His attacking nature gave the Irish drive out of defence and he ended with 25 touches.

Mick Malthouse used to coach Marty Clarke and he clearly values Clarke's ability with the round ball given his decision to stick the defensive Liam Picken on his back all night. The young Bulldog locked Clarke up and kept the former Magpie to just 13 touches.

1 - the number of streakers that invaded the pitch.
10 - the number of marks the tireless Daniel Cross took.
10,738 - the number of crazed fans that swamped both sides after the final hooter.
29,738 - the number of free hats with red fuzzy hair that were given out before the game and worn across the evening.

A man dressed as a leprechaun, a small dog wearing a jacket, two huge Australian flags in a sea of green and white, a giant man wearing a Wallabies guernsey and eating a pie, four giant Gaelic balls, an opera singer performing the anthems and a pair of supersized giant mascots. This one had it all.

"Once the under was scored, the crowd got involved. I still thought we had enough control of the ball so we could win the game. It was terrific victory because we haven't been together terribly long." - Australian coach Mick Malthouse.

"[The goal] might just have saved the series. If we hadn't have got it, we were in a pretty bad position. We really needed that goal, we were 20 points down at the time and not playing the way we wanted to play. The goal brought us into it." - Irish team manager Anthony Tohill.

Ireland    0.2.3 (9) 0.3.7 (16) 0.5.7 (22) 1.8.10 (40)    
Australia    0.4.0 (12) 0.7.0 (21) 0.10.2 (32) 0.14.5 (47)   

GOALS (6 points)
Australia: Nil

OVERS (3 points)
McDonnell 2, Brogan, Goulding, Cavanagh, Glynn, McKernan, Walsh
Australia: Goodes 4, Banfield 2, Betts 2, Montagna 2, Cross 2, Frawley, Dangerfield

Cavanagh, Begley, McDonnell, Kennelly, Brogan, Cluxton
Boyd, Cross, Swan, Duffield, Banfield, Ibbotson, Picken, Goodes

Australia: Nil

Reports: Nil

Umpires: David Coldrick, Brett Rosebury

Official crowd: 30,117 at Pairc Na nGael Stadium

Get behind the 2010 International Rules Series with Jennifer Witham’s complete coverage from Limerick and Dublin. Join the conversation on Twitter: use #IR2010 in your tweets.

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the clubs or the AFL.
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