Sport Gaelic Football

Sunday 17 December 2017

Irish boss disappointed huge effort reaped no reward

Martin Breheny

Martin Breheny

ANTHONY Tohill looked as exhausted as if he'd played all 72 minutes with an Australian strapped to his back.

He served his time well in Derry and Ireland jerseys, but this was different. Now, he was confined to the sideline, watching his squad go through every possible emotion as they attempted to reel in the Australians after allowing them a substantial headstart.

"They gave everything out there. They came from a long way back to lead, but just came up short in the end. It's disappointing to come away with nothing after putting in such a great effort, but that's life, that's football," he said.

When it came to assessing the details of a game that took a dramatic turn in the final quarter, Tohill admitted that the Australians were more efficient up to then, but he still felt Ireland deserved to take something from the series.

"We put them under enormous pressure in the final quarter. The lads were exhausted, but they still pressed forward. It was a great effort, but just not enough in the end," he said.

Irish captain Steven McDonnell rued the fact that Ireland really didn't get going until the final quarter when they powered up to a level that had the Australians on the verge of panic.

"It's a pity we didn't get more of that into our game earlier on. We showed what we could do in the final quarter, but it wasn't quite enough in the end," he said.

Ireland's recovery was all about momentum, said Australia's man-of-the-series Dane Swan.

"They stormed home hard. In our game, it's probably a bit easier to stop momentum. Luckily we stopped their momentum with an 'over' which was very important because they were going really well in that final quarter," he said.

Australian manager Mick Malthouse also talked of Ireland's final-quarter momentum and was understandably delighted with the manner in which his squad coped after falling behind. "We settled and got ourselves back into the game. We always expected that Ireland would come back at us, which they did, but we managed to come through in the end," he said.

Malthouse, who has completed his second series as manager, expressed regret that it wasn't an annual affair. Ireland go to Australia next year, after which there will be a break until 2013.

"The players would welcome playing it every year and when you get a crowd like tonight (61,842) it shows the public love it too," he said.

Tohill, who will be Irish manager again next year, has plenty to reflect on from the series. Clearly, there must be an improvement in Ireland's finishing skills and in their ability to create goal-scoring opportunities.

Still, the manner in which they fought back in the final quarter of both tests shows that they have no problems matching the Australians for resilience.

"When we ran at them we caused problems. Trouble was we left ourselves with an awful lot to do going into the final quarter," said Tohill.

Irish Independent

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