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Dublin: 5 °C Thursday 20 February, 2020
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'It's still half-time' insists Earley as Ireland leave Aussies in their wake

The Irish manager is calling on supporters to get out to Croke Park next week to cheer their country over the line.

Zach Touhy of Ireland celebrates scoring his side's first goal with Ross Munnelly.
Zach Touhy of Ireland celebrates scoring his side's first goal with Ross Munnelly.
Image: INPHO/Donall Farmer

IRELAND COACH PAUL EARLEY has refused to accept that the International Rules series is effectively over.

His side hold a 22-point lead heading into next Saturday’s decisive test at Croke Park with Australia after their 57-35 win at Kingspan Breffni Park last night. With 66 minutes on the clock in Cavan, Ireland led by just eight points after a strong Aussie fight-back.

A burst of late scoring that included three Ireland overs and a crucial Kevin McLoughlin goal, worth six points, has left significant daylight between the teams.

“Whether we won or lost, it is still half-time,” insisted Earley. “There is another game to go and it will be a big challenge next weekend, especially when you see the way they improved in the third quarter.

“That will give them a lot of confidence and we can’t underestimate them or take anything for granted.” Earley added:

It is a good position to be in, absolutely. But a goal, a couple of six pointers turns it around very quickly and we will be leaving nothing to chance.”

Earley rejected the suggestion that the second test will be a tough sell to fans now. Just 17,657 turned up at Breffni Park and with Ireland now so far ahead, they may feel the contest is over.

“I hope not,” he said. “I think a lot of people have bought tickets already for Croke Park. A lot of people I’ve spoken to over the last couple of weeks said they have put it in their calendar for next weekend so I certainly hope not.”

Dublin’s Paul Flynn noted the Australian’s strong form in the third quarter and claimed the result flattered Ireland in the end.

“Even in the final quarter they hit the cross bar,” said Flynn. “I don’t know how they did it. It was nearly harder to do that than score. That could have been a big swing if they’d got that goal.

“I was surprised at how well they did. Some of the shots they kicked were really, really good. They just didn’t create as much as I thought they would.”

Ireland easily overcome Australia to win first test

As it happened: Ireland v Australia, International Rules

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Paul Keane

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