Final score: Ireland: 2-12-9-57 Australia: 1-7-8-35
Australia had been urged to bring a "razzle dazzle" style to its opening international rules Test, but it was Ireland who shone after a 22-point victory at Breffni Park on Saturday night.
The indigenous tourists were in trouble from the opening minute when imposing Irish skipper Michael Murphy was awarded a free kick and converted a three-point over.
Ireland led 28-9 at half-time and it wasn't until midway through the third term that the tourists found some groove with the unfamiliar round ball.
After Carlton’s Zach Tuohy, later adjudged best afield, helped extend Ireland’s lead to 25 points with the first goal (six points) of the match at the 12-minute mark of the third term, the Australians started to control the round ball better and lifted their pressure.
Jake Neade responded with Australia’s first goal, and when Lewis Jetta and Alwyn Davey added an over each, capped off by a Lance Franklin point, the Australians had scored the final 13 points of the term.
The intensity of both teams escalated in the final term, prompting a scuffle on the outer wing, with Franklin involved. While happy to wrestle, the Australians quickly regained their composure, with Mathew Stokes providing an important over.
However, Ireland responded quickly, with an over to Ciaran Sheehan and a goal to Kevin McLoughlin icing the victory in front of 17,000 supporters.
After a sluggish start, Franklin, used in the ruck and up forward, became more involved but, ultimately, could not deliver the win he had wanted in his only match before returning home.
Franklin, whose off-field attitude did not impress in his short stay with the team, was due to fly out just hours after the game and will miss next Saturday’s Croke Park rematch as he is attending the wedding of former Hawthorn teammate, Brent Guerra.
Steve Motlop was clearly Australia’s best player. His dash, willingness to take the game on and create and ability to score ensured the Australians remained in contact in the first half but he would later botch what would have been a crucial goal.
Goalkeeper Ashley McGrath was regularly under pressure but battled hard and completed a great smother early in the third term saving a certain goal.
As has been generally the case throughout the series' history, the Australians began slowly as they adjusted to the round ball. They also struggled with the rules and failed to execute a game-plan based on leading into space. Their defensive pressure, something coach Michael O'Loughlin had stressed, was also poor.
Irish officials had hoped this series would help reinvigorate the format, but it was debatable whether they would have been happy with the overall standard of play.
The future of the series will be officially discussed on Wednesday when AFL deputy chief executive Gillon McLachlan meets his GAA counterparts.
Ireland: Tuohy, McLoughlin
Ireland: Murphy 2, Munnelly 2, Begley, O’Shea, Byrne, Cavanagh, Flynn, Sheehan, Boyle, McManus
Australia: Motlop 2, Franklin, Lewis Jetta, Alwyn Davey, Leroy Jetta, Stokes
Ireland: Tuohy, Murphy, MunnellyAustralia: Motlop, McGrath, Betts