Ireland have it all to do if they're to retain the Cormac McAnallen Cup after they suffered a 10-point defeat to Australia in the first International Rules Test in Adelaide.
A dominant third quarter from the hosts leaves Joe Kernan's men with a significant hill to climb in next Saturday's second and final Test in Perth. Donegal captain Michael Murphy scored Ireland's only goal in the second quarter, while they passed up on a number of other goal-scoring opportunities. Monaghan's Conor McManus was the visitors' scorer-in-chief with seven overs and four behinds, with Murphy, Conor Sweeney, Paul Geaney, Niall Sludden and Shane Walsh also getting on the scoresheet.
A crowd of 25,502 watched on as the teams battled it out in 31 degrees heat.
With Murphy and McManus prominent, the visitors started brightly and, aided by Murphy's goal at the start of the second quarter, led by 24-14. But that was as good as it got as Australia replied with 11 unanswered points, including two excellent Nat Fyfe efforts, to take a slender 28-27 lead into the interval. Pearce Hanley suffered a suspected broken hand in the second quarter which is likely to rule him out of the second Test.
The Aussies drove home their advantage in the third quarter when Fyfe rattled the net and Eddie Betts and Paddy Ryder scored overs. McManus and Conor Sweeney replied with overs for the Irish, but they still trailed by 50-35 at the end of the quarter.
Murphy, McManus and Paul Geaney narrowed the gap before a palmed goal from Luke Shuey helped the Australians to a 61-47 lead.
The series looked to be as good as over at this juncture, but Ireland rallied late on to reduce the hosts' advantage from 15 to 10 points, and give themselves a fighting chance next weekend.
Australia - B Goddard, Z Merrett (2), E Betts (5), R Laird, R Sloane (2), D Zorko (6), K Simpson (3), N Fyfe (16), P Dangerfield (3), J Selwood, S Burgoyne, J Gunston (1), M Hibberd (1), N Jetta, R Tarrant, B Brown (6), T Boak (1), P Ryder (3), C Wingard (8), L Shuey (6).
Ireland - N Morgan, C Barrett, K Clarke, E Cadogan, P Crowley, P Hanley, B Harrison, K Feely, K O'Connell, P Murphy, A O'Shea, Z Tuohy, G Brennan, N Grimley, S Powter, N Sludden (1), C Sweeney (3), S Walsh (1), P Geaney (3), C McManus (25), M Murphy (20).
Referees - M Stevic, M Deegan.