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Culture clash: the long and colourful history of the International Rules Series

This year’s meeting is set for Dublin this weekend.

THE LAST FEW Tests in the International Rules series have been marred by ill discipline, hammerings on both sides, and a reduction to a stand alone fixture.

However, despite all the controversy the series is alive and well for its 19th outing this Saturday.

2014 – Ireland 46-56 Australia  

The series was changed to a one-off event last year. Despite fears over the future of the series, 2014 was its return on an annual basis. Australia had suffered a record 101 point loss the year before after fielding a team made up of only indigenous players. Paul Early named a squad consisting of players from 15 different counties.

The largest contingent came from Mayo with five players, including Pearse Hanley of Brisbane Lions. Meanwhile the Aussies returned to fielding their best available players. Nearly 40,000 people turned up to Paterson’s Stadium in Perth and they were treated to a much improved encounter.

Ireland’s poor start saw them 33 points adrift in the third quarter. A Darren Hughes goal and an Australian own goal inspired an Irish comeback but the margin proved too big to overcome.

Source: AFL/YouTube

2013 - Ireland 173- Australia 72

Ireland took a 22 point lead after a 57-35 win in Breffni Park, Cavan. The first tie had actually remained relatively close, Ireland led by eight points going into the final minutes. A flurry of late scores including a Kevin McLoughlin goal put the icing on the cake though leading up to the decider in Croke Park.

The second test proved to be a mismatch as Ireland won easily by a score of 116-37. Conor McManus of Monaghan led the scoring with two goals and four overs. This was Ireland’s second series win in a row but the emphatic victory led to fears over the future of the series. As expected hundreds of seats were left empty in Croke Park.

Source: Carlton Football Club/YouTube

2011 - Ireland 130- 65 Australia

Australia capitulated in the first test in Brisbane in front of a crowd of just under 23,000. Ireland record a comfortable 80-36 scoreline. The second test was marred by a succession of violent confrontations and Irish manager Anthony Tohill admitted he was concerned for the safety of his players. The second test finished 50-29 to Ireland in front of a crowd of less than 13,000 in Queensland. The Australian media reacted extremely negatively to the series as a whole, unsurprisingly given the 65 point deficit was the largest ever recorded.

Source: Rubai Amin/YouTube

2010 – Ireland 92-102 Australia 

The 2009 series was cancelled due to financial concerns in the AFL, this was also the first series to be hosted in Ireland since two games marred by ill discipline four years previously. Anthony Tohill picked a squad consisting of players from 18 different counties. The first leg was held in the Gaelic Grounds in Limerick, the game saw a lot less stoppages than previous years.

Bernard Brogan scored the only goal of the game, but Australia’s 14 overs proved to be the difference as they ran out 47-40 winners. James Kavanagh of Kildare scored the only goal in the second test in Croke Park. Again though Australia registered 14 overs while Ireland notched up 11. Ireland lost by 3 points this time resulting in an overall deficit of 10.

About the author:

James Cox

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