Ireland 52-55 Australia (92-102 on agg)

Ireland came up short in Croke Park as Australia claimed another success in the series
Ireland came up short in Croke Park as Australia claimed another success in the series

Ireland's heroic effort fell short at Croke Park, where they lost the 2010 International Rules series to Australia.

Anthony Tohill's side trailed by 17 points at one stage, and appeared to be on their way to a heavy defeat in front of a crowd of 61,842, but they staged a storming final quarter display and went four points ahead at one stage.

However, a disciplined Australia stood firm, refused to panic, and closed out the game confidently for a three-point win on the night and a series aggregate margin of 10.

Ireland's bright start saw them go four points clear, with Bernard Brogan landing an over.

But the Australians, clearly having worked heavily on their handling of the round ball in midweek, pressed strongly, and had three-pointers from Brad Green, Leigh Montagna, Adam Goodes and Dane Swan.

Ireland struggled to get any momentum going, but did narrow the gap with an over from skipper Steven McDonnell as they trailed by 16-9 at the end of the opening quarter.

Australia, who won an abundance of possession around the middle of the field through Liam Picken and Leigh Montagna, stretched their lead through Dane Swan and Jarrad McVeigh.

The introduction of Benny Coulter, who missed the first Test through injury, helped Ireland gain a cutting edge up front, and they almost got in for a three-pointer, when the Down man's precision pass sent Daniel Goulding in, but goalkeeper Dustin Fletcher raced off his line to cut out the danger superbly.

Coulter and Kevin McKernan fired over three-pointers to keep the home nation in the hunt, but by the halfway stage Australia had extended their lead to 11 points and were 18 clear in the series.

Ireland made a bright start to the second half, with scores from Aussie Rules exports Tadhg Kennelly and Colm Begley, but Australia responded with three-pointer from Todd Banfield (2) and Eddie Betts to go 17 points clear.

Fresh hope swept through the stands at Croke Park when Kildare's James Kavanagh slid home a 50th minute goal.

Coulter banged in another over, but still the momentum lay very much with the tourists, who led 48-38 going into the final quarter.

And with Colm Begley of Laois, later voted Ireland's player of the series, driving his colleagues on Ireland performed with passion and pride in the final quarter.

They hit 12 points without reply, including two wonderful marks and three-pointers from Michael Murphy, to go 52-48 ahead.

But Australia finished the game in the most professional way possible, with Swan and Green sealing the series with late overs.

Ireland: S Cluxton, C McKeever, F Hanley, B Donaghy, K McKernan (0-1-2), G Canty, K Reilly, T Walsh (0-0-3), C Begley (0-1-1), L Glynn, S McDonnell (0-1-2), T Kennelly (0-1-0), M Clarke, S Cavanagh (0-1-2), B Brogan (0-1-2).

Interchange: D Goulding, P Keenan, S McDermott, B Murphy (0-1-1), M Murphy (0-2-0), M Shields, J Kavanagh (1-0-0), B Coulter (0-2-0).

Australia: D Fletcher, J Frawley, J Goldsack, G Ibbitson, P Duffield, L Picken, B Gibbs, D Cross, D Swan (0-3-1), T Varcoe, B Green (0-3-4), P Dangerfield (0-0-1), L Montagna (0-1-1), A Goodes (0-2-1), T Banfield (0-2-2).

Interchange: J McVeigh, M Boyd, K Simpson, J Riewoldt, S Gilbert, K Jack (0-1-2), E Betts (0-1-1), D Wojcinski.

Referees: P McEnaney (Ireland), B Rosebury (Australia).

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