Duffield admits late fightback from gutsy Irish put Australia on back foot
AUSTRALIAN defender Paul Duffield has admitted surprise at Ireland's late rally in Limerick that kept the International Rules series alive heading into Saturday's decisive Croke Park Test.
The Fremantle club man expected the Australians' fitness to prove telling in the final quarter and agreed that they were on the defensive late on when Anthony Tohill's side adopted a more attacking approach.
"We were well up on the scoreboard and they threw caution to the wind and attacked and really put us on the back foot. I think we'd usually back our fitness late in the game but that's full credit to the Irish, they put some real pressure on late in the game."
Bernard Brogan's goal means Ireland trail by a manageable seven points, but at a training session at Croke Park, the Aussies demonstrated their ever-increasing comfort with the round ball, meaning the home side face an uphill task.
"We probably won't take (the lead) into account at all," said Duffield. "It's not something we're used to obviously, the aggregate point difference.
"We'll play each game on its merits -- it's zero-zero at the moment and we'll start again and try to do our very best to win the next Test. That's an advantage late in the game, but it's not something we'll be thinking about from the very start. We just aim to do our best and win the test.
"Kicking a round ball is something we have to practice and work hard on.
"I think we found if we continue to improve in that area, it will go a long way for us to winning the Test."
Duffield will play in front of the biggest crowd of his career on Saturday provided, as expected, the GAA shift more than 42,000 tickets and he insisted there is considerable interest in the series back in Australia.
"I was in Perth when they played the Test in 2008 and the atmosphere there was really good," he said. "I think it generates a lot of interest at home and for the guys playing it's the only chance we get to represent our country, so we're quite passionate about it.
"We know this is a great series. We're not proud of what went on in the past, and it's not something we wanted to resurrect.
"We just made sure that we played at our passionate, hardest best. That meant playing within the rules as well. It's something that we talked about, but not necessarily focused on.
"We just want to make it a great contest. Maybe it has been reported that the last game lacked a bit of spark and flair, but it was a great contest and we're really looking forward to this one."