The TV promos before the second International Rules Test at Carrara on the Gold Coast were about ‘intensity’, an Australian team needing to ‘settle the score’. They would do it by pressure, tackling and hitting harder, within the rules.
They also tagged key players, including Tadhg Kennelly who was tagged by Sydney Swans teammate Ben McGlynn.
That reality led to numerous spot fires in the third quarter with three Australians and two Irish yellow carded and off the bench for a time.
In fact, it was Irish skill which still trumped the Australians - better high marking! (as when Kieran Donaghy outmarked Ben Griggs near the Irish goal), astonishing evasive skills, lay-offs of the ball under pressure with the speed of the Harlem Globetrotters, and precise kicking.
Although the Irish did not race away in a scoreless first few minutes, they inched towards a slight lead at the time. Steven McDonnell, the highest scorer in the history of the series, kicked an Over (above the cross bar) from the boundary line in the last minute of the quarter, Ireland taking a 12-8 lead into the break.
As an Irish commentator said, the Irish were handling the tackle better than in the past, particularly important for players who normally play a non-tackling game. In contrast, from early in the game Australia’s Mitch Robinson looked like he was angling for a prize fight next year with Barry Hall.
Ireland won the football, Australia narrowly won the niggle, but depite plenty of the latter there were no real fireworks.
After a fairly listless performance by Australia in the first International Rules test before a small crowd in Melbourne the main talking points going into the second match were whether the Aussies would lift their intensity in general but including at the man, whether they could regain some respect, whether anyone would turn up to watch, and whether the series has a future.
Certainly the intensity was there, with a match under their belts helping the Australians, many of whom were returning from holidays for the series. Their skills with the round ball were improved, even managing to take a few good marks, although as always none of the high flying sort seen in the AFL.
For Ireland, who were reportedly banned by management from visiting the Gold Coast's beaches, it was all about winning game two to sweep the series, not just winning on aggregate.
International Rules has always been a clash of cultures, which I wrote about regarding the sporting exchange's first three decades (later republished on WFN). Old and new versions of cultural differences were on display at Docklands Stadium on Friday night.
Some past and present events might explain why the first of the two Tests (the second is at Carrara on the Gold Coast, aka Metricon Stadium, on Friday 4 November) resulted in a 44 point victory to Ireland in a one sided game and three Mexican waves from a crowd in search of entertainment.
In this opinion piece, I want to begin by considering the past. Australians have three misunderstandings about the series and its history over a quarter century since 1984 and over four decades since 1967.
First, they tend to assume the professional VFL/AFL players will be superior to the Irish amateurs, which is not true. In fact, most series have been won by the away team due to greater team bonding, team skill and application. The matches have often been exciting and passionate as when 1980s VFL President Allen Aylett was excited by this ‘space age football’.
Australia's AFL players have been humiliated as Ireland ran rampant in Game 1 of the two part 2011 International Rules series.
The Irish now have virtually both hands on the Cormac McAnallen Cup with the series decided on aggregate margin and Australia starting the second match an unprecedented 44 point behind. Ireland didn't let the AFL selection into the game and were never threatened.
The hybrid sport brings together aspects of Australian football and Gaelic football so that the elite players from each code can represent their countries. Over the years the concept of a mostly All-Australian side has been diluted due to some elite players making themselves unavailable and also in recognition that some players in the All-Australian side are not well suited to IR. For their part this year the Irish were disrupted by some county matches continuing so some players been torn between club and country.
Dublin, OH - This past Saturday, Oct. 22, the Aussie Rules and Gaelic Clubs of Ohio joined forces to throw the Inaugural Ohio International Rules Football Challenge. The picture-perfect pitch at Darree Park in Dublin - the future home of the 2012 49th Parallel Cup, and '13 or '14 USAFL National Championships - was an ideal setting on a beaut fall day to kick-off this soon to be regular post-season (and perhaps preseason) contest.
Ohio is heavily concentrated in both of these foreign games. The Australian footy-ballers were represented by the Cincinnati Dockers, the upstart Cleveland Cannons, hopeful Dayton ARFC and in-state powerhouse and hosts, the Columbus Jackaroos. The Gaelic lads pulled from past and current players of the Cleveland St. Ignatius, Cleveland St. Pat's, and the first year local Columbus Naghten Street.
The AFL today announced the squad for the 2011 International Rules Series, to be played in Melbourne and on the Gold Coast. International Rules mixes Australian football and Gaelic football so that elite squads can represent Australia (from the AFL) and Ireland (from the GAA). As is now the trend, the Aussies have selected a side featuring few stars but rather younger players deemed suited to the game.
The Australia team, to be led by former Sydney Swans and Western Bulldogs coach Rodney Eade, is defending the Cormac McAnallen trophy, which was won 2-0 in Ireland last year under the leadership of captain Adam Goodes and coach Mick Malthouse.
Eade said the Australian party is suited to the demands of the hybrid game, with an emphasis around players with particularly strong kicking skills, pace and the ability to move the ball quickly, as well as being able to defend against the well-skilled Irish side.
Ireland has named a preliminary 31 man squad for the upcoming Cormac McAnallen trophy squad. The squad includes current AFL listed players Tommy Walsh, Michael Quinn, Chrissy McKaigue, Zach Touhy, Tadhg Kennelly and Pearse Hanley and former listed players Colm Begley and Brendan Murphy. Martin Clake who has been linked to an AFL comeback with both Collingwood and Carlton was not available for selection. A final 23 man squad will be named on October 23rd.
The Australian squad is expected to named after a meeting today to discuss who is avaialble from Saturday's Grand Final teams. The Australian team will be coached by Rodney Eade who has just joined the Collingwood coaching staff and the team will train in Torquay near Geelong prior to the first match in Melbourne at Etihad Stadium.
Queensland will host its first International Rules series match between Ireland and Australia at Metricon Stadium on the Gold Coast in November. The event is set to deliver a boost to the local tourism industry and reinforce the city's reputation as a world-class sporting events destination.
Sports Minister Phil Reeves made the announcement this morning with key AFL players and representatives from the Gold Coast Suns. "This means the second match in the two-match International Rules Series for the Cormac McAnallen trophy will be played right here at Metricon Stadium on November 4.
AFL Chief Executive Officer Andrew Demetriou yesterday said Australia would host Ireland in a two-match International Rules Series for the Cormac McAnallen trophy in October / November this year.
Australia currently holds the McAnallen trophy after winning both matches under former coach Mick Malthouse in Ireland last year. The opening Test of the 2011 series will be played on Friday October 28 with the second Test set down for Friday November 4.
Editor: The International Rules series between Australia and Ireland sees the two nations adopt a hybrid set of rules that combines Australian football and Gaelic football to form a new sport that allows the two countries to compete internationally against similar quality opposition. The series has had many ups and downs but has a surprisingly long history.
The following article is an interesting reflection on that history with an emphasis on the cultural aspects of globalisation and opposition to change. It's by one our writers, Professor Stephen Alomes. Please note it was first published in 2000, and has not been updated so should be read in that context.