Aussie Rules success for Irish
August 30, 2011
The Ireland Warriors staged a remarkable comeback to defeat favourites Papua New Guinea in the 2011 Australian Rules International Cup Grand Final in Melbourne last weekend.
The Irish team, which was backboned by GAA players who are based Down Under, came from 24 points down to claim a 53-35 victory in the world famous MCG for a second time - their previous success having come in 2002.
The Warriors played six matches in all, beating Timor-Leste, Great Britain, Sweden and Denmark in that order in Sydney before moving on to Melbourne where they enjoyed a 46-13 victory over the New Zealand Hawks in the semi-final.
Holders Papua New Guinea Mosquitoes provided the opposition for the Irish in the Grand Final, which was played as a curtain-raiser to the AFL clash between Hawthorn and Western Bulldogs. In what proved to be a magnificent contest, the underdogs recovered from a four-goal deficit in the second quarter to triumph by all of 18 points.
Michael Finn inspired the Irish comeback with two goals which reduced the deficit to 16 points at half-time. The Warriors continued to eat into the Mosquitoes' lead in the third quarter and had the margin down to the minimum at the end of the third quarter. Sensing victory, they pushed on and sealed an unforgettable win thanks to further goals from Fergal Purcell and 'Best on Ground' award winner Finn.
The victory capped a wonderful tournament for the Irish who also won the inaugural women's International Cup. The Ireland Banshees were victorious over Canada Northern Lights in their decider last Friday.
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