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Australia vs Ireland
2017 AFL International Rules Series - First Test
Australia have won the first International Rules Test against Ireland by a margin of ten points, but it has come at a cost to the Collingwood Football Club with Scott Pendlebury breaking a finger.
Australia 2.13.12 (63)
Ireland 1.13.8 (53)
The International Rules Series returns to Australia for the first time since 2014 as a who’s who of the country’s greatest players takes on Ireland at the Adelaide Oval. Join The Roar for live coverage and all the action from 4:10pm (AEDT).
The hybrid game seemed to be dead in the water after a 2013 tour to Ireland saw a substandard Aussie line-up hammered from pillar to post in a humiliating defeat, but since changing the squad criteria, the series has seen a resurgence.
One-off games in 2014 and 2015, with Australia only choosing players who had been nominated for the All-Australian squad at some point in their careers, saw a pair of skillful, hard-fought contests, with the Aussies triumphing in Perth before the Irish took back the Cormac McAnallen Cup one year later.
The initial squad of 23 has been cut back to 21 following GWS star Toby Greene being ruled out with a broken toe and Gary Ablett’s withdrawal due to personal reasons, but with the likes of Eddie Betts, Patrick Dangerfield and Nat Fyfe still in the mix, there’s no question that the side is armed to the teeth with ability.
For most casual Australian fans, the names Zach Tuohy and Pearce Hanley will look familiar in the Ireland line-up, but while the rest are relatively unknown down under, they are still a formidable force.
Vice-captain and multiple All-Star recipient (the Gaelic football equivalent of an All-Australian gong) Conor McManus spearheads a strong squad of some of the code’s best and brightest, and while the Aussie players will all have one eye on the 2017 AFL season, the amateur status of the Irish game means this is the biggest day in their sporting careers for many of the Irish players.
And with nearly all of them holding a job outside of football due to the abysmally poor pay (many earn less than AUD$12,000 per year from the sport) the players receive, it’s just another reason to root for this band of bricklaying, welding and real estate-selling Davids against the Goliaths of Australian footy.
Ireland’s record in these matches is very impressive, but Australia’s fortunes have greatly improved since they started actually taking selection policy seriously, and fans at the Adelaide Oval should be treated to a series-opening win for the hosts.
Australia to triumph by 21 points.
However, even a win for Ireland won’t necessarily be enough for them to retain the trophy, with the result being decided by the points tally at the end of the two games- so even if the result is beyond doubt in Game 1, every point will still count.
Can Australia take one step towards returning the Cormac McAnallen trophy to the southern hemisphere? Or will the Irish take down their more fancied opponents with a stirring win in enemy territory?
Tune into The Roar’s live coverage of the match from 4:10pm (AEDT), and don’t forget to leave us your thoughts in the comments section below.