irishtimes.com - Last Updated: Saturday, October 30, 2010, 22:30

Irish effort comes up just short

SEÁN MORAN at Croke Park

Ireland 52 Australia 55 (Australia won 102-92 on aggregate): Ireland came desperately close to a morale boosting win in the second Test of the International Rules series in Croke Park tonight. In the end it was the visitors who came through narrowly in an exciting final quarter to seal a deserved series victory.

The match for long stretches reflected last week’s in Limerick with the AFL team looking sharper and better able to create attacks and finish them.

Trailing by 10 going into the fourth quarter Ireland looked to have only pride to play for but they produced a stirring fight back to turn the Test on its head, and at one stage threaten the series and the seven-point lead the visitors had taken into second Test.

Even at that Anthony Tohill’s team were fortunate to be within sight but a third-quarter six pointer, bundled into the net by James Kavanagh, set up the match for its furious finale.

Again Ireland will be frustrated at their inaccuracies and a series of ‘behinds’ in the last period undid their chances of winning the match. Kevin McKernan, raiding from half back, gave the team impetus and Michael Murphy kicked two excellent overs. Bernard Brogan was nearly in for a goal as Australia wilted.

The home recovery was spirited and created a crescendo of noise and excitement amongst a good crowd of 61,842, who had been subdued for long stretches before bursting into vocal life as Ireland pulled ahead 52-48 with just eight minutes left.

The return of Benny Coulter after injury last week gave Ireland more of an attacking edge and the defence coped manfully with the hard running and accurate Australians.

Once again captain Adam Goodes was prominent in attack with seven points but the top scorer on this occasion was Brad Green of the Melbourne Demons, who shot 16 points.

So Australia regained the Cormac McAnallen Cup for the first time in four years and will defend it next year in Australia. The players of the series awards went to Laois’ Colm Begley for an energetic contribution over both tests and Dane Swan of premiership champions Collingwood took the Jim Stynes medal for the AFL.

IRELAND : 1. S Cluxton (Dublin); 16. C McKeever (Armagh), 10. F Hanley (Galway), 7. B Donaghy (Armagh); 14. S McDermott (Roscommon), 4. G Canty (Cork), 20. K Reilly (Meath); 22. T Walsh (Kerry and St Kilda), 2. C Begley (Laois); 8. L Glynn (Wicklow), 15. S McDonnell (Armagh) (capt), 13. T Kennelly (Kerry and Sydney Swans); 6. M Clarke (Down), 5. S Cavanagh, 3. B Brogan (Dublin).
Interchange
 : 9. D Goulding (Cork), 11. J Kavanagh (Kildare), 12. P Keenan (Louth), 18. B Murphy (Carlow), 19. M Murphy (Donegal), 21. M Shields (Cork), 26. B Coulter (Down).
Scorers
 : Kavanagh 6 (1-0-0), Coulter 6 (0-2-0), M Murphy 6 (0-2-0), Brogan 5 (0-1-2), McDonnell 5 (0-1-2), Cavanagh 5 (0-1-2), McKernan 5 (0-1-2), Begley 4 (0-1-1), B Murphy 4 (0-1-1), Walsh 3 (0-0-3), Kennelly 3 (0-1-0).

AUSTRALIA : 31. D Fletcher (Essendon); 7. J Frawley (Melbourne), 12. T Goldsack (Collingwood) 9. G Ibbotson (Fremantle); 41. P Duffield (Fremantle), 42. L Picken (Western Bulldogs), 2. Bryce Gibbs (Carlton); 4. D Cross (Western Bulldogs), 36. D Swan (Collingwood); 1. T Varcoe (Geelong Cats), 18. B Green (Melbourne), 32. P Dangerfield (Adelaide Crows); 11. L Montagna (St Kilda), 37. A Goodes (Sydney Swans) (capt), 17. T Banfield (Brisbane Lions).
Interchange
 : 3. J McVeigh (Sydney Swans), 5. M Boyd (Western Bulldogs), 6. K Simpson (Carlton), 8. J Riewoldt (Richmond), 14. S Gilbert (St Kilda), 15. K Jack (Sydney Swans), 19. E Betts (Carlton), 40. D Wojcinski (Geelong).
Scorers
 : Green 16 (0-4-4), Swan 10 (0-3-1), Banfield 8 (0-2-2), Goodes 7 (0-2-1), McVeigh 4 (0-1-1), Montagna 4 (0-1-1), Betts 3 (0-1-0), Frawley 1 (0-0-1), Dangerfield 1 (0-0-1), Jack 1 (0-0-1).

Referees : P McEnaney (GAA) and B Rosebury (AFL).

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