Ireland win match and Rules series - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Ireland win match and Rules series

By Roger Vaughan 01/11/2008 12:25:31 AM Comments (0)

Ireland have withstood a late charge from Australia to win the second International Rules Test by four points at the MCG.

The tourists also reclaimed the Cormac McAnellen Cup for the first time since 2004 after winning last Friday night's Test in Perth by a point.

Drew Petrie scored a six-point goal with two minutes left to bring the home side within reach of an unlikely win, but the Irish held on to win 4.8.9 (57) to 3.8.11 (53).

There is little doubt the series will continue next year in Ireland, with no major physical clashes during the game.

On-field violence during the 2005 and '06 series meant a cancellation last year and the matches only resumed after a series of negotiations between the AFL and Gaelic Athletic Association.

The two sides went out of their way to play the series in the right spirit.

Ireland's triumph on this tour meant the series are tied at five-all since resuming in 1998.

Petrie also scored two three-point overs at the start of the final quarter before a goal to Shaun Burgoyne as the Australians made their late charge, but the Irish deserved to win.

Benny Coulter's second goal late in the last term steadied Ireland, giving them a crucial buffer.

Australian Kade Simpson and Ireland's Graham Canty were judged the series' top players.

Irish captain Sean Cavanagh, the top scorer with four goals, and big forward Kieran Donaghy were also outstanding.

The match was played in wet conditions and the weather undoubtedly affected the crowd size.

The AFL had hoped for 50,000-plus, but only 42,823 attended after the rain came a couple of hours before the start of play.

Australia did most of the attacking early and kicked four of the first five overs to lead by nine points.

But Cavanagh kicked two overs late, giving him three for the quarter and reducing the margin to three points.

The Irish then smashed the home side in the second term as Donaghy and Enda McGinley scored goals.

Ireland blew the margin out to 18 points before Michael Osborne scored Australia's only over of the quarter, reducing the deficit to 15 at half-time.

After Paddy Bradley's over at the start of the third term again took the margin out to 18, Australia pressed as they sensed the game was almost out of their reach.

Australia created a two-on-one scramble deep in attack and Marc Murphy knocked through the home side's first goal of the series.

That brought Australia back to within six points and the game was alive again.

Coulter then scored a controversial goal, as Australian Matthew Boyd was dragged off the ball just before the score and should have received a free.

An over to Donaghy meant the Irish again led by 17 at the last change.

Simpson won the Jim Stynes Medal for the player of the series and Canty was voted the top Irish player.

After Nathan Bock had the crucial goalkeeping role for Australia in game one, Michael Firrito took the thankless job, with mixed results.

While he made a couple of saves, Firrito certainly looked like a man who was in the role for the first time.

It was a particularly-emotional series win for the Irish, given the cup is named after McAnallen.

He played for Ireland from 2001-03 but died unexpectedly in early 2004 and was a good friend of Cavanagh's.

Overall, the two sides were most pleased that the series' future is assured.

Campbell Brown's yellow card in the first Test was the only player send-off.

"(The series was) played thankfully within the spirit of what sport should be, when you have two international sides who are in what we call a strange, I suppose, competition," said Australian coach Mick Malthouse.

"You only have to look at the way the Irish celebrated to know what it meant.

"If you're talking about the game itself, we tended to make too many errors with the slippery ball.

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