Ireland manager Joe Kernan celebrates with Jack McCaffrey after the game. Cathal Noonan/INPHO
No Show Like a Joe Show

Kernan says International Rules series is 'alive and well' after 'one of the best wins' yet

Ireland defeated Australia last night at Croke Park.

IRELAND MANAGER JOE Kernan believes the country’s 10th International Rules series win over Australia could very well be the best yet.

The 40th test played between the two countries in the 31-year history of the competition ultimately went down to the wire, with Ireland showing enough resilience and game intelligence to hold on.

That was a particularly impressive feat, given the AFL’s present policy of only selecting players who have won an All-Australian award, not to mention their professional advantage.

Legendary Armagh figure Kernan suggested that Australia are taking the series ‘to a different level’ because of the teams they are fielding, though his team still had enough to account for the hotly-fancied visitors, a historic achievement.

“It probably was one of the best wins because of the team they sent and the quality of their management,” said Kernan.

“Alastair Clarkson, we all know what he has done, three AFLs in a row. He’s a smart cookie and he took his best players from his own club with him; five Hawthorn players and, in fairness to them, when the going got tough, they did stand up.

“For ourselves, when you’re playing against the best like that, you have to rise up to that level and, for most of the game, we did that.”

Both Kernan and his opposite number, Clarkson, spoke strongly in favour of returning the series to a two-test footing and playing one of those tests in the US, possibly next year.

Paul Cribbin and Bernard Brogan celebrate with The Cormac McAnallen Cup Ireland's Bernard Brogan and Paul Cribbin with the Cormac McAnallen Cup. Ryan Byrne / INPHO Ryan Byrne / INPHO / INPHO

Clarkson won’t be involved, though, as he’s stepping down after two seasons in charge, a low note to go out upon. He lamented Australia’s slow start which saw them fall 20 points behind after two quarters.

“We didn’t handle the ball anywhere near to where we usually do, in the first-half,” said Clarkson. “Some of the turnovers gave the Irish side open opportunities. They capitalised on those chances.

“In the second-half, we were a little bit cleaner with the ball. Some turnovers in the first-half had made it easier for them to score but we at least corrected that.”

Clarkson claimed that Australia dominated Ireland in the possession stakes but were hamstrung by poor distribution and errant shooting.

Ireland were much more clinical in attack, even if things tailed off a little after roaring into a 43-23 half-time lead. Kernan pointed out that losing Paddy McBrearty to a mixture of shoulder and kidney injuries after slamming into a goal post didn’t help for the vital third and fourth quarters.

Alastair Clarkson Australian head coach Alastair Clarkson. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

“Looking back, there are a load of things we could work on and say we could do better but, most importantly, did we play well?” asked 2002 All-Ireland winning Armagh manager Kernan. “Did we take the game to them? We did do all of those things.

“The first 20 minutes we played fantastic football; the passing, the accuracy, the finishing, everything was good. The second quarter was fairly good, the third quarter was laboured and the same with the last quarter.

“Our boys are after having a long year as well, that was bound to have been part of it but we never talked about that before. We didn’t want to put that idea in anyone’s head. What we set out to do, we achieved. We won, we played good football and we showed the series is alive and well.”

5 talking points as Ireland claim International Rules glory with victory over Australia

Brogan leads the way as Ireland hold on to record Rules win over Australia

Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.