Ireland hammered a very poor Australian side in the opening test of the International Rules series in Melbourne on Friday morning. A forty-four point victory must surely have wrapped up the series for the visitors, and it will be disappointing if they fail to press on in the second test.
The home team were very slow getting used to handling the oval ball and it appeared as if they hadn’t had alot of work done prior to the game. Ireland got off to a flying start and scores from Tommy Walsh and Leighton Glynn had them ahead after only five minutes. Donegal star Michael Murphy increased the lead to 9-0 and it was evident even at that early stage that the visitors were far superior. Tadgh Kennelly was playing very well and he added a further point, before Murphy hit the opening goal of the match. Stephen Milne scored Australia’s only point of the quarter and aside from this, all they could muster was one behind. Stephen McDonnell added Ireland’s final score of the first period,to leave it 22-4 at the break.
The second quarter was slow to kick into life, as both sides missed chances and could only add behinds to their score tallys. Former Kerry star Kennelly continued to impress, as he popped up in both defence and attack. Eamonn Callaghan from Kildare scored a second goal for Ireland on 29 minutes and an over from McDonnell left the visitors ahead by thirty-three points. Australia needed a goal before half-time if they were to keep the game alive,and it arrived courtesy of Brad Green. However, it still left them trailing by twenty-four points at the halfway point.
Michael Murphy and Tommy Walsh were both impressing and the duo added further points to increase the Irish lead early in the third quarter. Brad Green was the only Aussie who adapted to the oval ball and he added another score to his tally to keep his country in the tie. A late tackle on Kildare’s Emmet Bolten then led to a mass brawl involving most of the thirty players. When the play eventually resumed, Kieran Donaghy made a fine catch and kicked an over to stretch the gap even further. Leighton Glynn scored another over and Robbie Gray finally got the Aussies first three pointer of the quarter just before the siren. Ireland led 59-26 at the end of the penultimate quarter.
Stephen Milne scored the first points of the final quarter and at twenty points, the series was still there to be won. However, the excellent Leighton Glynn finished the test and the series with a fine goal a minute later. There was to be no way back from there and the Aussies looked a beaten outfit. Kieran Donaghy added his second over to make it a thirty-nine point game. As the hosts began to drop their heads Ireland went in for the kill. Stephen McDonnell scored another Irish goal and the visitors were already celebrating victory. Led by the Kerry trio of Walsh, Donaghy and Kennelly, and the impressive Glynn from Wicklow, Ireland were worthy winners of this game. Even though we are only at the halfway stage,there seems no way back for the Australians.