At Thursday's media briefing Ireland manager Joe Kernan announced that he is to investigate the size of the playing area in Perth's Domain Stadium when the teams get a run-out ahead of Saturday's second International Rules Test.
Amid suspicions that the pitch in Adelaide might have been smaller that the regulation 145m by 90m, Kernan said he and his selectors would check on this.
“I’m sorry we didn’t get the measurements but we’ll certainly be measuring it tomorrow evening [Friday] when we go out to the stadium. Whatever the rules say they [dimensions] are it’s up to both groups to check and see that the rules are being followed. If it was okay so be it, but I just got a feeling that it looked a bit narrow.”
Since Ireland’s defeat in Adelaide last weekend the travelling panel have been regretting the manner in which the Australians got control in the third quarter. The damage was actually done either side of half time, with the visitors fading after Michael Murphy’s early goal in the second quarter.
Kernan added that the two players ruled out by illness last week, Enda Smith and Niall Murphy, were recovering, but that a decision on their fitness had yet to be made.
“We’re giving the two lads as much time as we can to see if they are okay. They’re getting stronger. There’s a big improvement in the two of them.”
Kernan said the biggest disappointment of the first test defeat was the reaction just after half time. “Third quarter. You prepare yourself to go and do things, but they don’t always work.”
But as Ireland and Geelong defender Zach Tuohy said, "you can't afford any blow-outs in any quarter".
In fact, neither Ireland nor Australia have any established superiority in the third quarter. Over the past 10 series the countries have broken even as to who wins that phase , but such is the reputation of those minutes – "the championship quarter" – that losing it appears to impact more on teams.
Nine of the 18 third quarters in that time have been won by the team that goes on to win the test, so it is not a wholly reliable predictor either.
Kernan also announced that the team would be having a de-brief with match officials to sort out any anomalies after the first test in which some Irish players said the varying interpretations of the GAA's Maurice Deegan and the AFL's Matt Stevic had created confusion.
“In fairness to the rules, you’re able to meet the referees, and we’ll be doing that tomorrow. We’ll be showing a few clips from the video of what was right and what was wrong.
“Two years ago we scored a goal and they gave us a penalty. The advantage was that the goal stood and we could have missed the penalty, but we asked them here and they said, no, that was their mistake. So I hope they make the mistakes the right way!”
Move the ball quicker
Meanwhile, Ireland selector Pádraic Joyce, who is a veteran of the international series both as a player and in 2005 as captain, reflected that the team might need to vary its approach.
“We need to play a little more GAA – move the ball quicker. We found it very hard to transfer the ball from the half backs to half forwards quickly. And we left too much of a gap between that and the full forward line. We left Australia a lot of room in the middle of the field, allowing them to handball the ball away and create an overlap.”
He was asked had the international series changed at all since his playing days over a decade ago.
“It has changed a lot. It’s not as physical as it was. Skill levels of the Australians are much better. They are picking a more medium-type speedy player. They only have a few really big lads. Back in my day they would have seven or eight.”