McEniff irked by the endgame
It is no consolation to Irish manager Brian McEniff when you suggest that this result will at least make it interesting for next week. "It does give us something big to play for next week, but I'm not really enamoured by that kind of talk," he says. "And I appreciate that we didn't have our squad fully together, but I wouldn't even be reasonably happy with that performance. There were all good players out there, but we just didn't play well at the finish and that cost us. I always felt we needed a bit of a lead going into the last quarter because of the levels of fitness they have. We hadn't anywhere near the sort of lead we needed and we paid the penalty."
Still, the eight-point margin that needs to be recovered when the sides meet again next Sunday is far from unbridgeable. "We have another full match to play and of course we'll have to improve many aspects of our game. There's no point in saying we're going to get any fitter between now and then but we can tidy up our act and make more marks in front of goal.
"We had some problems as well in that Darren Fay took a bad knock in the second quarter and it got worse and worse. We conceded three overs at that stage which allowed them to get back in the game at a time when we had them on the rack."
Irish team captain Trevor Giles sums up the mood of the players when he talks of the disappointment in being able to sustain their lead. "Some of our guys haven't seen championship football in a long time, hadn't had a game of that intensity, and that made it difficult in the last quarter. But hopefully this will get us more up to pace with the game and with a goal worth six points, we're not too far away. We'll look at the video now and find areas where we can improve. We can take this defeat and just work for a bigger lead the next day."
His Australian counterpart, James Hird, expects a more fiery battle next time out. "This gives us a lot more confidence in our ability to play the game. But I know the Irish are going to be a lot stronger the next day when they get the six players back and we're going have to play even better."
For Australian coach Dermott Brereton, the victory was as important to his team as it was for the International Rules series as a whole. "We're relieved now and we want to celebrate the win, but we will be better next week. And I expect the Irish to be better as well.
"But I think it was the same as most other series in that we started off very slowly. Until we get pressure from the Irish, and realise how to use the ball properly, that's when we acclimatise and that's when we start to excel. But I was always confident that we would out-score Ireland in the last quarter."