Ireland 116 (6-22-14) Australia 37 (2-7-4)
Ireland stormed to a record 79-point victory over Australia to retain the Cormac McAnallen Cup after a one-sided second Test at Croke Park on Saturday night.
After their 22-point win in Cavan last week, Ireland took the series with an aggregate winning margin of 101, which is the highest in the 29-year history of the International Rules Series.
Ireland led 27-8 at the end of the first quarter after goals from Conor McManus, who finished the game as Ireland’s top scorer with 24 points, fisted to the back of the net. McManus set up Ireland’s second seven minutes later, hand passing neatly for Dublin’s Jack McCaffrey to finish past Ash McGrath, the visitors’ goalkeeper.
When Ciarán Kilkenny – after some super soccer skills from Seán Cavanagh – added a third goal at the start of the second quarter, the game was as good as over as a contest. When McManus, the Player of the Series, chipped in with a fine over to increase Ireland’s lead to 32 minutes before half-time, Ireland had both hands on the Cormac McAnallen Cup.
Ireland led 53-16 at the break, and the intensity, increased tackle count and desire the Aussies had promised was nowhere to be seen. Ireland simply had far too many excellent footballers and for long periods the All-Indigenous visitors couldn’t lay a glove on them.
After the impressive Ciarán Sheehan and Michael Murphy landed further overs, McManus moved Ireland 71-19 ahead in the third quarter when he finished after good work from Carlton-bound Louth native Ciarán Byrne.
Ireland were 78 to 25 to the good at the three-quarter mark, but were 65 ahead soon after the resumption of play when Paddy McBrearty hit their fifth goal.
Australia restored some pride with goals from Eddie Betts and Jake Neade, but Ireland added a sixth right at the end when Paul Conroy’s effort evaded Australian goalkeeper McGrath and snuck in at the far post.
The 79-point winning margin easily eclipsed the previous best (44), which Ireland recorded in the first Test in 2011.
Ireland scorers: C McManus 24 (2-4-0); R Munnelly 13 (0-4-1) ; M Murphy 12 (0-4-0); P McBrearty 10 (1-1-1); C Sheehan 10 (0-3-1); C Kilkenny 9 (1-1-0); L Keegan 8 (0-2-2); P Conroy 7 (1-0-1); J McCaffrey 6 (1-0-0); P Flynn 5 (0-1-2); S Cavanagh 4 (0-1-1); C McKaigue 3 (0-1-0); J Doyle 2 (0-0-2); Aidan Walsh 1 (0-0-1); Colm Begley 1 (0-0-1); M Shields 1 (0-0-1).