Australia win 116-103 on aggregate
AFTER A BRIGHT start, Ireland wilted in Perth as Australia regained the Cormac McAnallen Cup.
It was a deserved victory for Australia, who controlled the second-half after trailing by 30-17 at the end of the second quarter. They had a better spread of scorers and their superiority in tackling was evident as the game went on.
Ireland needed to overturn a 10-point deficit from the first test but Australia finished stronger to claim the overall victory by 13 points in front of 30,116 at the last ever game in the Subiaco Oval. It was an entertaining second test but sloppy mistakes from Ireland in possession ultimately cost them as they allowed Australia back into the game.
The home team were slow starters as goals from Gary Brennan and Chris Barrett hit early six-pointers to give Ireland a dream start. Aussie coach Chris Scott moved dangerman Nat Fyfe out to midfield after he was kept quiet by Peter Crowley on the half-forward line in the opening two quarters.
Fyfe began to rule the skies in the middle third, while Eddie Betts, Chad Wingard and Ben Brown were extremely dangerous in the full-forward line.
Among Ireland’s best were Galway’s Shane Walsh and Niall Morgan of Tyrone. The game is very suited to Walsh’s lightning pace and ability to kick off either side, while Morgan’s kick-outs were outstanding, he was reliable in the air and made an important second-half stop on Wingard.
Ireland led by 30-17 at half-time, largely thanks to those first-quarter goals from Brennan and Barrett. McManus and Murphy kicked 15 points between them in the opening 36 minutes, but outside of them Ireland struggled for scores – like the first test.
Australia sleepwalked into the beginning of this affair and the game only began to ratchet up in the physicality stakes at the end of the second-quarter. Joel Selwood nailed Barrett with a late hit and was black-carded, and Australia sparked off a brawl just after the half-time whistle.
Ireland were well able to match Australia’s aggression, with Aidan O’Shea in particular standing up to the home side.
Fyfe had a quiet opening half, but he started to dominate in the ‘championship quarter’ and pulled down one phenomenal mark from midfield as Australia began to turn the screw.
Ireland were caught in possession on a number of occasions during the third quarter – with Morgan and Enda Smith both caught – but they led by 41-34 after a brilliant curling effort from McManus from the touchline.
Wingard, Rory Sloane and Dane Zorko chipped in with overs, while McManus kicked one at the far end for Ireland. The Aussies looked comfortable late on, despite having only three replacements, and a final over from Betts sealed the win.
Scorers for Australia: Eddie Betts (0-2-3), Dayne Zorko (0-3-0) 9 each; Chad Wingard (0-2-0), Rory Sloane (0-2-0) 6 each; Luke Shuey (0-1-2) 5; Zach Merrett (0-1-1), Ben Brown (0-1-1) 4 each; Rory Laird (0-1-0), Nathan Fyfe (0-1-0), Shaun Burgoyne 3 each; Jack Gunston (0-0-1) 1.
Scorers for Ireland: Conor McManus (0-5-1) 16; Gary Brennan (1-0-1) 7; Chris Barrett (1-0-0), Michael Murphy (0-2-0) 6 each; Shane Walsh (0-1-3) 6; Ciarán Sheehan (0-1-0), Niall Murphy (0-1-0) 3 each; Darren Hughes (0-0-1), Paul Murphy (0-0-1), Niall Murphy (0-0-1) 1 each.
Brendan Goddard (Essendon)
Shaun Burgoyne (captain, Hawthorn)
Robbie Tarrant (North Melbourne)
Kade Simpson (Carlton)
Rory Laird (Adelaide Crows)
Luke Shuey (West Coast Eagles)
Dayne Zorko (Brisbane Lions)
Shaun Higgins (North Melbourne)
Patrick Dangerfield (Geelong Cats)
Rory Sloane (Adelaide Crows)
Eddie Betts (Adelaide Crows)
Nathan Fyfe (Fremantle)
Chad Wingard (Port Adelaide)
Ben Brown (North Melbourne)
Neville Jetta (Melbourne).
Travis Boak (Port Adelaide)
Jack Gunston (Hawthorn)
Zac Merrett (Essendon)
Joel Selwood (Geelong Cats).
Black card: Joel Selwood (second quarter, 17th minute).
Niall Morgan (Edendork, Tyrone)
Brendan Harrison (Aghamore, Mayo)
Eoin Cadogan (Douglas, Cork)
Seán Powter (Douglas, Cork)
Ciarán Sheehan (Éire Óg, Cork)
Zach Tuohy (Portlaoise/Geelong Cats, Laois)
Chris Barrett (Belmullet, Mayo)
Kevin Feely (Athy, Kildare)
Aidan O’Shea (captain, Breaffy)
Shane Walsh (Kilkerrin-Clonberne, Galway)
Darren Hughes (Scotstown, Monaghan)
Niall Sludden (Dromore, Tyrone)
Paul Geaney (Dingle, Kerry)
Michael Murphy (Glenswilly, Donegal)
Conor McManus (Clontibret, Monaghan)
Peter Crowley (Laune Rangers, Kerry)
Killian Clarke (Shercock, Cavan)
Paul Murphy (Rathmore, Kerry)
Gary Brennan (Clondegad, Clare)
Niall Sludden (Rapparees, Armagh)
Enda Smith (Boyle, Roscommon)
Niall Murphy (Coolera-Strandhill, Sligo)
Conor Sweeney (Ballyporeen, Tipperary).
Referees: Maurice Deegan (Laois), Matt Stevic (Victoria).
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