Ireland score easy victory in opening International Rules clash
Ireland...............57 (2-12-9) Australia............35 (1-7-8)
IRELAND virtually assured retention of the Cormac McAnallen Cup and only a third international rules win on home soil with an easy success at Kingspan Breffni Park.
The credibility of the series however is hanging in the balance once more after a dull encounter lacking entertainment and any real bite for the 17,567 crowd.
Ireland were far too comfortable against a highly inexperienced Australian Indigenous team who only really mounted a challenge in the third quarter which they won 18-11 to reduce the gap to 11 points (39-28).
But the home side pulled away with ease in the second half of the last quarter to record a 22 point success.
Irish captain Michael Murphy, who has the Donegal county final with Glenswilly tomorrow, was used sparingly but got his side some early momentum with two overs and with Ross Munnelly taking a steady stream of marks in the full forward line Ireland coasted into 17-4 lead at the end of the first quarter.
There was little improvement from the visitors in the second quarter but AFL star Lance Franklin showed some signs of adaptability with a four point haul but they still trailed by 28-9 at the interval.
The highlight of the third quarter and indeed the game was a powerful burst through the middle and goal from Zac Tuohy on 48 minutes to push Ireland even further clear, 38-14.
But Australia did respond with a goal from Jake Neade after Eddie Betts, one of only three players with previous international rules experience on the Australian Indigenous side, robbed Derry's Eddie Betts to reduce the deficit to 39-20 on the 50 minute mark.
Australia kept pressing and might have been rewarded with a second goal in the final quarter but Steven Mortlop struck an upright with Irish goalkeeper Paddy O'Rourke beaten.
A Mathew Stokes over early in the fourth quarter reduced the gap to eight points and briefly the series looked like it remained alive.
But Ireland took control again and, inspired by their best player Tuohy, pulled away easily with with Mayo's Kevin McLoughlin adding a second goal.
Tuohy was Ireland's best player with strong performances from Paul Flynn, Aidan O'Shea and Jack McCaffrey.
Scorers: Ireland: 9 R Munnelly (0-2-3), 7 M Murphy (0-2-1), 6 Z Tuohy (1-0-0), K McLoughlin (1-0-0), 5 C McManus (0-1-2) 4 C Byrne, C Sheehan (0-1-1 each), 3 S Cavanagh, C Begley, P Flynn, A O'Shea, C Boyle all (0-1-0) 1 J McCaffrey, (0-0-1)
Australia: 8 S Motlop (0-2-2), 6 J Neade (1-0-0) L Franlkin (0-1-3) Lewis Jetta (0-2-0), 3 Alwyn Davey Matthew Stokes (0-1-0 each) 1 D Wells, Aaron Davey, D Barry (0-0-1 each)
Ireland: P O'Rourke; N McGee, F Hanley, C McKaigue; L Keegan, Z Tuohy, J McCaffrey; A Walsh, S Cavanagh; P Flynn, C Byrne, C Sheehan; P McBrearty, M Murphy, R Munnelly.
Interchange: C Boyle, P Conroy, C Kilkenny, K McLoughlin, C McManus, A O'Shea, C Sheehan, M Shields.
Australia: A McGrath; J Harbrow, C Yarran, T Armstrong; C Ellis-Yolmen, N Lovett-Murray, A Davey; L Franklin, D Wells; S Motlop, L Thomas, Leroy Jetta; E Betts, M Stokes, J Hill.
Interchange: Lewis Jetta, Alywn Davey, Aaron Davey, M Stokes, D Barry, S Edwards, S Wellingham, J Neade.