Saturday 24 February 2018

Tohill worried at how quickly improving Aussies have got ball rolling

Jackie Cahill

IRELAND International Rules boss Anthony Tohill is worried by Australia's ever-improving use of the round ball.

The Australians play with an oval ball in their native AFL, but the transition for Mick Malthouse's visitors was effortless as they walloped a Cork colleges selection 105-12 during a midweek warm-up match.

Over 2,000 spectators witnessed a masterclass from the Australians and Tohill, speaking at a Limerick press conference yesterday, fears that ominous form could be evident in this evening's first Test at Limerick's Gaelic Grounds.

Tohill admitted: "It is a concern for us that the Aussies were so adept on Wednesday night in that game, albeit against a fairly young UCC/CIT side.

"But to play any game of football and put up a score of 105 points and hold your opposition to 12 is a phenomenal result. It has always been our biggest advantage, the round ball, and in games gone by, you could almost allow Australia to have 70pc of the ball, knowing that they would not translate that into scores.

Pressure

"The continued improvement of the Australian players with the round ball is a worry for us, but it is something that we will be working on to put them under a little bit more pressure than they were on Wednesday night."

Australia boss Mick Malthouse wasn't buying into Tohill's mind games and countered: "I can tell you right now, the Irish use the ball better than us because we've only kicked the thing two or three times in the space of two weeks.

"And from what I've seen of the Irish side, they're very quick and superbly fit, so there's going to be an even competition."

Malthouse has also vowed that the Australians will keep it clean following the violence that marred the 2005 and 2006 series.

A pall hung over the hybrid game, which was suspended for a year, but sanctions introduced where players stepping out of line can be suspended in their native sports helped to ensure a trouble-free revival in 2008. Malthouse insisted that a repeat of the violent scenes of the past would be a "total surprise" and spoke of a mutual respect between both camps. Malthouse added: "We don't want to walk away from this series without that respect intact."

"I don't think we gave up a single free for a tackle on Wednesday, so I think we're jumping a long way back to draw some sort of conclusion that it would repeat itself (past trouble).

"If it does, it will be a total surprise to me, a total surprise to our captain Adam (Goodes) and a total surprise to the rest of the playing group."

Irish Independent

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