Australia draw first blood Saturday, October 23, 2010

Ireland 40 (1-8-10) Australia 47 (0-14-5)
Ireland were beaten 47-40 in the first Test of the 2010 Irish Daily Mail International Rules Series at the Gaelic Grounds, Limerick on Saturday night.

Anthony Tohill's side will take a seven-point deficit into next Saturday's second Test at Croke Park, where they will need a vastly improved display if they want to hold onto the Cormac McAnallen Cup. Given that the Australians have tended to improve between Tests in the past, with the benefit of additional playing time with the round ball, Ireland face a mammoth task to turn the Series around.
Ireland trailed by 47-29 with six minutes left on the clock, but a spirited comeback, sparked by a brilliant solo goal by Bernard Brogan, saved their blushes and gave the 30,000-strong crowd something to cheer about at the end of a one-sided game.
"The goal might just have saved the series. I think if we hadn't got it we were in a pretty bad position," said Tohill, the Ireland manager.
"We really needed that goal, I think we were 18 points down at the time playing not the way we wanted to play to put it mildly.
"It brought us into it, it brought the crowd into it and it led to us getting a bit of a strong run at it at the end of the game to leave the series alive."
Tohill's men were outplayed for much of the game and struggled to cope with the speed and athleticism of the visitors. Australia looked comfortable with the ball in hand and mastered the art of winning marks in front of the irish goal, which they converted with ease.
The Australian skipper, Adam Goodes, was the chief scoring threat for the Aussies, scoring 12 points (four overs) in a sublime display from full-forward. Dane Swan and Bryce Gibbs were the visitors' other stand-out performers.
The home side struggled from the off, playing soccer with the ball, when it proved tricky to handle in the wet conditions. The ploy backfired and Ireland conceded the ball frequently.
Ireland trailed by 21-16 after a first half in which the visitors, as expected, showed they were more than capable of playing with the round ball.Tohill's men had a surfeit of possession, but their use of the ball lacked the clinical edge of the visitors.
Bt half-time, the Australians had kicked seven overs; Ireland, by contrast, were significantly more profligate, with Seán Cavanagh alone wasting three opportunities for overs, kicking one-point behinds on each occasion.
Brogan pointed the way for Ireland, guiding a seventh minute shot over the bar before Steven McDonnell finally found his range just before the first quarter hooter. By that stage Ireland were already 12-9 down, as Daniel Cross and Todd Banfield had added to an early three-pointer from Adam Goodes, the Australia captain.
The athletic Sydney Swans man, marked by Graham Canty at full-forward, scored his second over of the game with a spectacular leap and catch in the second quarter, leveling the game at 15-15.
Mick Malthouse's side were starting to hum. Goodes cajoled his charges from full-forward and their lightning-quick inside forward men did the damage just before the half-time hooter. Betts and Todd Banfield obliged with an over each just before the long break to leave Australia 21-16 ahead.
Remarkably, 10 minutes passed before the first score of the third quarter arrived, Matthew Boyd skewing his shot when he probably should have registered three points. Tommy Walsh, who has spent the last 12 months in the AFL with St Kilda, showed him how it's done, ‘marking' the ball and slotting over with ease to register Ireland's first over in nearly 20 minutes' play.
Then, the recurring theme of the game; Australia came good in the second half of the quarter, dominating play and showing their strength up front. They rattled off 10 points without reply as Leigh Montagna, a team-mate of Walsh at the Saints, kicked two brilliant overs, the first the score of the game. In between, Betts bagged his third over of the night and the Aussies had streaked into a 13-point lead.
Leighton Glynn, a star of the 2008 Series win Down Under, pegged the visitors back just before the hooter, tapping over the bar after he had won space and gathered a clean mark in the inside forward line.
The final quarter saw the Aussies move into a commanding lead, with Goodes grabbing his fourth over, before Dangerfield gave them an 18-point with just nine minutes left.
But Ireland fought back, with Brogan ramming home a superb shot for the only goal of the game with five minutes left. Kevin McKernan added another three-pointer to reduce the gap to just seven at the death.
It was scarcely what Ireland deserved, but the Series remain well and truly alive ahead of the second Test at Croke Park next week.
Ireland: S Cluxton; C McKeever, F Hanley, B Donaghy; S McDermott, G Canty, K Reilly; C Begley, T Kennelly; L Glynn, S McDonnell (captain), S Cavanagh; B Brogan, T Walsh, M Clarke.
Scorers for Ireland (40): S Cluxton 1 (0-0-1) Reilly 1 (0-0-1), Brogan 9 (1-1-0), Cavanagh 6 (1-0-3), McDonnell 8 (0-2-2), Kennelly 1 (0-0-1), M Clarke 1 (0-0-1), Goulding 3 (0-1-0), Walsh 4 (0-1-1), McKernan 3 (0-1-0), McKeever 1 (0-1-0), Glynn 3 (0-1-0).
Interchange: D Goulding, J Kavanagh, N McNamee, K McKernan, B Murphy, M Murphy, E Bolton, P Keenan.
Australia: D Fletcher; B Gibbs, J McVeigh, M Boyd, K Simpson, J Frawley, J Riewoldt, G Ibbotson, T Goldsack, B Green, E Betts, D Swan, A Goodes (captain), P Duffield, L Picken.
Scorers for Australia: Goode 12 (0-4-0), Frawley 3 (0-1-0), Banfield 6 (0-2-0), Cross 6 (0-2-0), E Betts 6 (0-2-0), Boyd 1 (0-0-1), Montagna 6 (0-2-0), Simpson 2 (0-0-2), Dangerfield 3 (0-1-0), Jack 1 (0-0-1).
Referees: David Coldrick (Ireland), B Rosebury (Australia).