Contributed by: Brett Northey Saturday, October 29 2011 @ 10:27 pm ACDT
Australia's AFL players have been humiliated as Ireland ran rampant in Game 1 of the two part 2011 International Rules series.
The Irish now have virtually both hands on the Cormac McAnallen Cup with the series decided on aggregate margin and Australia starting the second match an unprecedented 44 point behind. Ireland didn't let the AFL selection into the game and were never threatened.
The hybrid sport brings together aspects of Australian football and Gaelic football so that the elite players from each code can represent their countries. Over the years the concept of a mostly All-Australian side has been diluted due to some elite players making themselves unavailable and also in recognition that some players in the All-Australian side are not well suited to IR. For their part this year the Irish were disrupted by some county matches continuing so some players been torn between club and country.
Unfortunately the downgrading of Aussie availability has gone even further in 2011 and the Australian side is now almost devoid of star players. Add to that a paltry 6 day preparation and the home team were sitting ducks.
The much vaunted superior fitness of the professional AFL players never materialised, lack of familiarity with the round ball was all too obvious, and the Irish players showed a perfect balance of aggression in tackling, surprisingly being superior in that aspect as well.
The game far more resembles Gaelic football than Aussie Rules and so Australia needs everything going its way to win these series. Again, it is only the professional aspect of the AFL that gives Australia an edge, and it seems that the GAA squad has eroded that advantage over the years. With Ireland well prepared including with a number of ex or current AFL players the visitors dominated like never before. The final margin of 44 points was Australia's biggest loss ever.
There are always calls to dump the series due to the hybrid nature, small crowds in Australia or on field violence, but now Australia's non-competitiveness adds to the threat. Of course it would be poor form to walk away just because they are not good enough. Certainly a much better performance can be expected come Game 2 on the Gold Coast, but the huge deficit surely couldn't be overcome, so the Aussies will be playing for pride - a win, or at least a competitive match.
Ireland 4.17.5 (80)
Australia 1.8.6 (36)
For those unfamiliar with the hybrid sport, goals (into the soccer-style net) are worth 6, overs (like a conventional Aussie Rules goal) are worth 3 and behinds worth 1.
GOALS (6 points)
Ireland: M. Murphy, Glynn, Callaghan, McDonnell
OVERS (3 points)
Australia: Milne 2, Douglas, Nahas, Robinson, Gray, Monfries, Green
Ireland: McDonnell 4, T. Walsh 3, Donaghy 2, McKernan 2, M. Murphy 2, Glynn 2, Kennelly, B. Murphy
Australia: Milne, Vince, Douglas, Kelly, Green
Ireland: McDonnell, Cluxton, Hanley, Donaghy, T. Walsh, Kennelly
Australia: Shiels (corked thigh), King (jarred knee)
Ireland: Bolton (concussion), Donaghy (calf)
Umpires: Chamberlain (Aus), Coldrick (Ire)
Official crowd: 22,921 at Etihad Stadium, Melbourne