by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago
Ireland got off to a slow start and, according to their coach, opted to kick the ball more than use their hands. Australian players ran in groups to stymie the Irish. Small forwards Eddie Betts and Todd Banfield applied plenty of defensive pressure while veteran Dustin Fletcher repelled a number of Irish attacks to help put the game in Australia's keeping. Adam Goodes starred with four overs. Australia led by just three points at the first break. Ireland continued their attacks in the second term and briefly stole the lead, but Betts and Banfield both scored overs late in the term to give Australia a five point lead lead at half time.
Leigh Montagna and Betts scored three overs in quick succession in the third term to give Australia an 18 point lead. With Irish forward Cavenagh off target, former Magpie Marty Clarke (now playing for Ireland) being well-contained by Liam Picken and Dane Swan collecting the ball seemingly at will, Australia was 20 points in the lead at the final break. The Irish hit back hard in the final term after Australia pushed their lead out to 20 points. The only goal of the match was kicked by Brogan for Ireland late in the term. It kept Ireland in the contest as they kicked three overs to Australia's four for the term. Fletcher made several important saves in defense to help Australia hang on for a seven point win as the clock beat the fast-finishing Irish.
The second match will be played next weekend. Australia hopes to regain David Wojincski (ankle) and Travis Varcoe (shoulder). Both were injured in a warm-up game last week. The winner will be decided by aggregate points of both games which means the Irish must win by at least eight points to take the series. A draw will leave the teams level while a win of seven points or less by Ireland will see Australia win the series.
Australia's team consisted of:
Dustin Fletcher (ESS - goalkeeper), Paul Duffield (FRE), James Frawley (MELB), Kade Simpson (CARL), Bryce Gibbs (CARL), Garrick Ibbotson (FRE), Tyson Goldsack (COL), Matthew Boyd (WB), Dane Swan (COL), Liam Picken (WB), Adam Goodes (SYD), Jarrad McVeigh (SYD), Eddie Betts (CARL), Jack Riewoldt (RICH), Brad Green (MELB) and Interchange players Todd Banfield (BRIS), Daniel Cross (WB), Patrick Dangerfield (COL), Sam Gilbert (STK), Kieren Jack (SYD), Leigh Montagna (STK), Travis Varcoe (GEEL), David Wojcinski (GEEL)
Scoreboard Australia 0.4.0 0.7.0 0.10.2 0.14.5 (47) Ireland 0.2.3 0.3.7 0.5.7 1.8.10 (40) Goals (6 points) IRE Brogan Overs (3 points) Australia Goodes 4, Banfield 2, Betts 2, Montagna 2, Cross 2, Frawley, Dangerfield Ireland McDonnell 2, Brogan, Goulding, Cavanagh, Glynn, McKernan, Walsh Best players Australia Boyd, Cross, Swan, Duffield, Banfield, Ibbotson, Picken, Goodes Ireland Cavanagh, Begley, McDonnell, Kennelly, Brogan, Cluxton Umpires: David Coldrick, Brett Rosebury Crowd: 30,117 at Pairc Na nGael Stadium, County Limerick
Source: theage.com.au, heraldsun.com.au, afl.com.au
Article last changed on Wednesday, October 27, 2010 - 12:26 PM EDT