Ireland reign supreme to lift McAnallen Cup

October 25, 2004
Padraic Joyce raises the Cormac McAnallen Cup Final Test Ireland 54 (1-13-10) Australia 41 (0-13-2) A classy Padraic Joyce goal immersed in a red-letter third-quarter display served to catapult Ireland to a second International Rules test victory and the capture of the Cormac McAnallen Cup (132-82 aggregate victory)after a real passion play at Croke Park in front of 60,515 fans. A pre-match brawl, a dog on the loose and a double sending off inside the opening three minutes set the tone for what was a much more exciting and passionate test than the opener last week. But once again, Peter McGrath's Irish side looked the more accomplished, more skilful squad as they overcame a Nathan Brown (21) - inspired Aussie squad to capture the latest series and slip into a 6-5 series lead overall. Ireland took the best that their opponents could dish out to them and stood firm while showing their superior marksmanship to record a rare home victory over their professional opponents. The expected Aussie backlash showed signs of materialising in the opening quarter as star man Brown, with three overs, and the influential Nick Riewoldt eased the men from down under into a 12-8 lead after 12 minutes. Earlier Joe Bergin and Aussie captain James Hird were both yellow-carded as the visitors laid down their marker in a frenetic opening spell. But apart from Brown, the Aussies presented a limited threat as Ireland's fitness and cohesion must have surprised the fired-up visitors. And, as was their wont, the home side showed great stamina and will-to-win to finish the quarter the stronger and a Tom Kelly point and Tadgh Kennelly with an over levelled matters at 12 points apiece. The sides were still tied at 16-16 with seven minutes played but then a great save by Cluxton from a Ball piledriver underpinned the resolute Irish display. Australia's most prolific scorer Nathan Brown upped the ante again in the 13th minute when notching yet another over as his side edged into a 25-19 lead. Ireland held their nerve though and despite Mayo's David Heaney being dismissed for 15 minutes, the Aussies' lead was pegged back leaving Ireland very much in the driver's seat in the race to capture the inaugural McAnallen Cup. Ireland started the 3rd quarter 23-26 behind and a man down with the yellow carded Heaney still off the field. But the homesters had the better start with Tom Kelly and Ciaran McManus on the end of a six man move to put Coulter through for a fine over. And the tide continued to flow towards the Canal End with team-captain Padraic Joyce notching an over to put Ireland into a three point lead, 29-26, for the first time in the match. The Aussies had a let-off just a minute later when Tadgh Kennelly's scrambled 'goal' was ruled out by referee Michael Collins for a 'square ball'. However Ireland's third over in a row, scored by Dessie Dolan, and then a fourth from Joyce helped keep the visitors on the backfoot. Now leading by 35-26 with seven minutes played in the third quarter, Ireland continued to dictate the pace and while Ossie Jones fired over the Aussie's first score, an over, in the 8th minute, the Irish hit back with the first goal of the game by Padraic Joyce in the 9th minute to extend Ireland's lead to 12 points on the day, 41-29. Australia tried to counter in double-quick time but Cluxton moved sharply off his line to get to the ball before the advancing McVeigh could toe the ball into the net. Brown was on target then in the 12th minute with a badly needed over for his side to cut Ireland's aggregate lead to 121-73. The expected Aussie major push for parity never materialised in the third quarter and at the hooter Ireland were sitting pretty on the back of a 44-35 lead (aggregate 121-76) Ireland concentrated on retaining possession as the the final quarter gathered pace. Some exquisite pieces of skill by Kieran McDonald and Benny Coulter and two expert fetches by 'keeper Cluxton helped to frustrate the Aussies and keep Ireland in pole position. Brown was majestic though and his 7th over kept his side in touch, but only just. The impressive Brosnan and the elusive Alan Brogan were both on target however as Ireland went about copper-fastening their cup win. With eight minutes left to play, Brosnan tore through the middle but his shot from 22 metres flew just wide of the goal for a one pointer. Another one pointer by the Kerryman stretched Ireland's lead to nine points, 47-38, and left the destination of the Cormac McAnallen Cup done and dusted. Sean Kavanagh almost put the icing on the cake in the 17th minute but Michael spread himself to save with his feet only for Alan Brogan to follow up and nick a three-pointer. Then a brillant block by Graham Canty on Nathan Brown's goal-bound shot one minute from time served to underpin Ireland's grity, determined and skilful match-winning display. The Aussies showed surprisingly little fight in the dying embers of the final quarter and Ireland easily ran down the clock, thus leaving inspirational team-captain Joyce to hold aloft the glittering prize to the delight of the big crowd. Ireland: Stephen Cluxton; Sean Martin Lockhart, Graham Canty, Sean Og O'hAilpin; Ciaran McManus (1), Tom Kelly (2), Joe Bergin; Ciaran McDonald, Sean Cavanagh (6); Padraic Joyce (13), Benny Coulter (5), Tadgh Kennelly (9); Paul Galvin (3), Brian Cullen, Dessie Dolan (15). Interchange players:Brian McGuigan, Mattie Forde (3), Eoin Brosnan (3), David Heaney (1), James Nallen, Declan Browne, Martin McGrath, Alan Brogan (6) Australia: Mal Michael; Joel Bolton, Nick Del Santo (1), Dean Soloman; Luke Ball (3), Michael Braun, Brady Rawlings; Mark McVeigh, James Hird ; Cameron Bruce, Brett Kirk, Andrew Emberly; Ossie Jones (6), Nathan Brown (21), Rick Reboult (6). Interchange players: Dean Corey (1), Craig Bolton (3), Michael Braun, Simon Hughton, Grant Huxton. FIRST TEST Irish hold all the aces against Aussies Sunday, October 17, 2004 Ireland 77 (3-17-8) Australia 41 (1-9-8) Classy Ireland give Australia a rare and salutory lesson in the art of the International Rules game as they clocked up an impressive opening test victory to take the first step in claiming the Cormac McAnallen Cup in front of 46,370 fans at Croke Park. The fast-moving, more skilful Irish led from pillar to post and dominated the match for all but fleeting minutes against visitors who lacked the cohesion, passing ability and finishing touch needed to test their hosts. The Aussies were outclassed in practically every facet of the game and they now have a mountain to climb if they are to overcome Ireland on aggregate over the two test series. Ireland were spring-heeled in the opening quarter of the match and the pattern of the game largely remained unaltered thereafter. A hat-trick of splendid overs from the highly impressive Dessie Dolan and one from Down's Benny Coulter in the opening 11 minutes had Ireland on easy street as the men from the Antipodes trailed by 1-19. It was all so easy for the hosts as the Aussies' passing, movement off the ball and handling of the round ball left an awful lot to be desired. Nathan Brown's 8th minute behind and another similar score from former Man. United triallist Brad Green in the 13th represented a sad return for the out of sorts visitors who strangely lacked a physical presence throughout the game. In contrast, the Irish were confident, hungry and played without fear of intimidation as they carried the game to their professional opponents. The Aussies, traditionally slow-starters, weren't even awoken from their slumber after Stephen McDonnell took advantage of a brillant pass from Benny Coulter to find the net after 14 minutes. Belatedly, the Aussies began to show more urgency in their play and a fine over from the experienced Nathan Brown in the 16th minute helped cut the visitors' deficit to a much more manageable 20 points, 5-25. But the fact that Ireland notched seven overs in the first quarter to the Aussies' single reply was to prove ominous in the extreme. And, predictably, Ireland remained in control though as the second quarter gathered pace even if an over from Luke Ball (26th) and a point from the hard-working Brown served to give the men from down under renewed hope of a comeback. However Ireland responded to their opponents' re-awakening with gusto with overs from Mattie Forde (29) and Stephen McDonnell (31) opening up a 36-10 lead for Pete McGrath's men. Australia clearly looked shell-shocked and they went even further behind in the 32nd minute when Mattie Forde cut through the middle like knife through butter before skilfully slipping the ball along the ground past the diving Mal Michael in the Australia goal. Trailing by 13-43 at the start of the third-quarter, Australia desperately needed some sustenance and they got just that two minutes after the restart when Nathan Brown made good some fine work by Rick Reboult to find the Irish net. Ireland refused to panic though in the face of a more spirited and vastly improved Australian challenge even though the impressive James Heard notched an over in the 51st minute to cut Ireland's lead to 20 points once again, 47-27. Indeed, Ireland showed a great capacity to hit back with interest after a brief Aussie flourish and so it was that Padraic Joyce netted after a truly brillant ball was flighted to him by livewire Dolan in the 53rd minute. Australia kept chipping away at Ireland's lead though and a three-pointer from Nathan Brown helped keep them in touch, if only just. With a 36 point advantage going into the final quarter, it was clear that Ireland could only really throw the game away. However the hosts remained disciplined, focussed and, just as importantly, in control as the game wind down to a finish which was essentially a real anti-climax. Save a Nathan Brown over in the 64th minute which made it a 64-34 game, Ireland had things very much their own way in the opening minutes. Earlier an over from Alan Brogan just one minute into the final quarter and a similar score from Alan Brogan plus one-pointers from Ciaran McManus and Mattie Forde had Ireland on the cusp of easy street (68-34) with 11 minutes of the final quarter played. Jason Johnston did pull an over back (72) and another one from Joel Bowden (73) helped the Aussie cause but they, in truth, merely helped to take some of the bad look off the scoreboard as far as the men from down under were concerned. Unusually, it was Ireland who proved they had the greater kick down the final straight with an over each from Dessie Dolan (74th), Tadgh Kennelly (75) and Padraig Joyce (77th) helping to put the proverbial polish on a quite outstanding Irish display. Ireland: Stephen Cluxton; Sean Martin Lockhart, Graham Canty, Sean Og O'hAilpin; Ciaran McManus (3), Tom Kelly (3), Joe Bergin (3); Ciaran McDonald, Sean Cavanagh (3); Padraic Joyce (9), Benny Coulter (3), Tadgh Kennelly (11); Paul Galvin, Stephen McDonnell (12), Dessie Dolan (15). Interchange players: Setanta O hAilpin (1), Alan Brogan (3), Mattie Forde (10), Brian McGuigan (1), David Heaney, James Nallen, Brian Cullen. Australia: Mal Michael; Joel Bowden (4), Nick Del Santo, Dean Soloman; Robert Hardrill, Steven Kirk, Brady Rawlings; Adam McVeigh, James Heard (6); Cameron Bruce, Brett Kirk, Brad Green (4) Gerard Crouch, Nathan Brown (17), Rick Reboult (2). Interchange players: Luke Ball (4) Dean Corey (1), Austin Jones, Jason Johnston (3) Craig Bolton.

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