Mistakes in the Ireland defence in the fourth quarter cost them dearly as Australia claimed both the second test as well as the International Rules series in the Subiaco Oval, writes John Fogarty.
Watching by a slightly disappointing 30,116 attendance, Ireland’s hopes of claiming the series looked good even after the third quarter when the Australians finally came alive.
Ireland lead by seven points going into the last period but went behind in the 11th minute just after Morgan had to stop Chad Wingard from finding the net.
Ireland, who enjoyed some fortuitous refereeing decisions, regained the lead in the 16th minute thanks to a Niall Grimley over but that had been preceded by a couple of behinds as Ireland struggled to create the goal chances they carved out in the first quarter.
Eddie Betts took a great over to level the sides at 50 points apiece in the final minute but a Morgan error allowed Dayne Zorko in for an over to confirm the Australians’ second successive victory.
Michael Murphy reacts after a missed chance. Picture: INPHO/Tommy Dickson
An insipid start to the game, which saw the teams level 1-1 up to the eighth minute, was greatly improved by Ireland’s first goal, a well-worked move after Darren Hughes has turned over the ball with a free-winning tackle.
He passed to Zach Tuohy who sent the ball to Paul Geaney on the wing. Geaney found O’Shea in a central position and he laid the ball off for Gary Brennan to sprint and kicked the ball past Brendan Goddard.
Ireland found themselves ahead in the series a minute late when O’Shea and Brennan were again involved. Michael Murphy then put the ball on a tee for the advancing Chris Barrett and the visitors were celebrating another six-pointer.
Ireland will have regretted their three wides in the opening 18 minutes and Australia eventually got things going with a few overs by the end of the quarter although Conor McManus was also on the mark again with an over after his fine Adelaide showing and the score-line read 17-11 in Ireland’s favour.
That six-point advantage was more than doubled after the second quarter (30-17), which finished with a row as the Australians seemed upset by the dominance of the Irish.
Prior to it Joel Selwood was black carded and removed from the rest of the game for his late and high tackle on Barrett, McManus penalising that infringement with his second over.
Australia managed just one over in the second quarter via Ben Brown as they struggled to make the ball stick in their full-forward line as they did in the first test.
Peter Crowley was excellent in negating Nathan Fyfe, the star of the first match. Ireland’s defenders were also getting forward a lot more, as evidenced by Barrett and Seán Powter’s forays while Darren Hughes was everywhere and Goddard had to make himself big to prevent him from claiming a third Ireland goal.
McManus and Murphy each claimed a brace of overs in another strong quarter and Ireland went 16 up after the interval when Shane Walsh slotted an over but the third quarter was once more the Australians as they cut into the Ireland advantage.
By the end of it, there were seven between the sides as the home team scored 14 points without reply in an eight-minute spell. Four overs and one behind demonstrated how they were getting on top in the middle.
A Ciarán Sheehan over gave Ireland some relief and McManus finished out the quarter with his fourth quarter but it could have been so much better had Goddard not stopped a Walsh shot in the 16th minute.
Scorers for Australia: Eddie Betts (0-2-3), Dayne Zorko (0-3-0) 9 each; Chad Wingard (0-2-0), Rory Sloane (0-2-0) 6 each; Luke Shuey (0-1-2) 5; Zach Merrett (0-1-1), Ben Brown (0-1-1) 4 each; Rory Laird (0-1-0), Nathan Fyfe (0-1-0), Shaun Burgoyne 3 each; Jack Gunston (0-0-1) 1.
Scorers for Ireland: Conor McManus (0-5-1) 16; Gary Brennan (1-0-1) 7; Chris Barrett (1-0-0), Michael Murphy (0-2-0) 6 each; Shane Walsh (0-1-3) 6; Ciarán Sheehan (0-1-0), Niall Murphy (0-1-0) 3 each; Darren Hughes (0-0-1), Paul Murphy (0-0-1), Niall Murphy (0-0-1) 1 each.
AUSTRALIA: Brendan Goddard (Essendon); Shaun Burgoyne (captain, Hawthorn), Robbie Tarrant (North Melbourne); Kade Simpson (Carlton); Rory Laird (Adelaide Crows), Luke Shuey (West Coast Eagles); Dayne Zorko (Brisbane Lions), Shaun Higgins (North Melbourne); Patrick Dangerfield (Geelong Cats), Rory Sloane (Adelaide Crows), Eddie Betts (Adelaide Crows), Nathan Fyfe (Fremantle), Chad Wingard (Port Adelaide), Ben Brown (North Melbourne), Neville Jetta (Melbourne).
Interchanges: Travis Boak (Port Adelaide), Jack Gunston (Hawthorn), Zac Merrett (Essendon), Joel Selwood (Geelong Cats).
Black card: Joel Selwood (second quarter, 17th minute).
IRELAND: Niall Morgan (Edendork, Tyrone); Brendan Harrison (Aghamore, Mayo), Eoin Cadogan (Douglas, Cork), Seán Powter (Douglas, Cork); Ciarán Sheehan (Éire Óg, Cork), Zach Tuohy (Portlaoise/Geelong Cats, Laois), Chris Barrett (Belmullet, Mayo); Kevin Feely (Athy, Kildare), Aidan O’Shea (captain, Breaffy); Shane Walsh (Kilkerrin-Clonberne, Galway), Darren Hughes (Scotstown, Monaghan), Niall Sludden (Dromore, Tyrone); Paul Geaney (Dingle, Kerry), Michael Murphy (Glenswilly, Donegal), Conor McManus (Clontibret, Monaghan).
Interchanges: Peter Crowley (Laune Rangers, Kerry), Killian Clarke (Shercock, Cavan), Paul Murphy (Rathmore, Kerry), Gary Brennan (Clondegad, Clare), Niall Sludden (Rapparees, Armagh), Enda Smith (Boyle, Roscommon), Niall Murphy (Coolera-Strandhill, Sligo), Conor Sweeney (Ballyporeen, Tipperary).
Referees: Maurice Deegan (Laois), Matt Stevic (Victoria).