Fitness is key to Aussie message

 

It has been a good series for Dermott Brereton, the Australia coach. He has learned from last year's defeat, devised his plans and picked his players accordingly. One of his firmest beliefs is that Australian fitness levels hold the key to the outcome over 80 minutes and this was central to his message for the opposition.

"It will be very healthy for Ireland to get a loss like this, because I believe you become the competition you're playing. If they were to win this series, they could almost become complacent that skills could do it for them.

"Skills didn't do it for them this time, and their fitness needs to come up, and until a coach gets hold of a Gaelic team and revolutionises, and they run through an entire match without a drop-off in the execution of skills because of the fatigue factor, they're going to stay where they are, which is pretty good. "But once every two years or three years, now that the Australians have learned how to play this, they'll probably roll them."

His exuberant confidence had already been communicated to his Ireland counterpart, Brian McEniff. "I heard it from their coach coming up the steps after half-time. He said they were going to bury us. That was a bit of motivation for us but we weren't good.

"We had to go for goals in the third and fourth quarter and didn't convert those chances. We got two or three and they could have given us a lift, but we never got close enough to make a meaningful challenge. I was proud of how we performed in the second half because the Australians thought they'd tear us asunder in the second half."

Among the many things which went wrong for Ireland was the sending-off of Peter Canavan. Both he and nemesis Jason Akermanis had been warned previously, and when they became entangled after the halftime whistle, both were dismissed.

"Peter was a great loss," said McEniff. "He's a general up front and it's unfortunate that sort of carry-on goes on. Not only this match but the previous two matches. And unfortunately Canavan got the line over it today. I'm sorry, because he's a wonderful player."

Ultimately Brereton put his finger on the difference between this and last year. "We're a much better kicking side than we were last year when we'd basically one bloke who could kick the round ball, Nathan Buckley, and he didn't make the trip. We're 15 points a better team."