DONEGAL’S PATRICK MCBREARTY played a part as Ireland regained the Cormac McAnallen Cup after a tense win over Australia at Croke Park in the International Rules Test.
Ireland 56 Australia 52
Ireland built up a big lead in the first half and it was just as well for Joe Kernan’s team had to cling on for the win after Australia launched a stirring comeback that fell just short of snatching the prize.
Spurred on by Conor McManus, Aidan O’Shea and Bernard Brogan – the trio accounted for 45 of the Ireland points – the Irish team reclaimed the Cup they lost in Perth a year ago.
38,386 turned up for the game and they saw Ireland roar into a 21-13 lead by the end of the first quarter with Mayo’s O’Shea getting a goal.
O’Shea netted a second goal when he finished well after Brogan’s initial attempt was saved.
McBrearty was denied a goal when he slapped home only to find that play had been called back and a penalty award. McManus duly converted the penalty and Ireland led 43-23 at the break with McBrearty thankful that the Hill 16 post was padded after he collided awkwardly.
By the end of the third period, Ireland’s lead was cut to eleven points and when Jarryd Roughead beat Niall Morgan for a goal, there was the growing sense that the Aussies could sneak it.
Robbie Gray reduced the arrears further, but Brogan’s behind sealed a win and Kernan could thank a determined effort by his defence for securing a hard-earned victory.
Ireland scorers: C McManus 17, A O’Shea 15, B Brogan 13, D Connolly 4, L Keegan, D Hughes 3 each, P Kerrigan 1.
Australia scorers: E Betts 14, N Riewoldt, R Gray 10 each, L Breust 4, D Mundy, A Gaff, J Roughead, L Montagna 3 each, J Stringer, T Rockliff 1 each.